Vincent Peruzzi; Kept disco's flames lit
By Emma Stickgold, Globe Correspondent August 15, 2004
During his live shows for Kiss 108 FM radio broadcast live from The Rack on Saturday nights in the 1990s,
Vincent R. Peruzzi would pluck listeners from the line for the ladies room and put them on the air.
The Quincy native was well known for the antics he added to his show as he spun the disco tunes for three
decades at Kiss 108 FM, WNTN, and most recently Star 93.7 FM.
On Friday, Mr. Peruzzi died after a yearlong battle with lymphoma. He was 51.
Keeping close tabs on the ebb and flow of disco music's popularity, Mr. Peruzzi sneaked
disco songs onto his playlist after disco fell out of favor in the music industry, recalled Jerry
McKenna, a longtime friend and the program director at Star 93.7.
Mr. Peruzzi, known by his on-air nickname, "Disco Vinnie," ardently defended the genre when it came under attack.
"Musically, the 1970s got a bad rap, but if you really listen to it, the music from the 1970s sounds a lot
better than the stuff that's out now," Peruzzi told the Globe in 1993. "A lot of the stuff that's out now are
samples or remakes from songs of the 1970s."On the air, Mr. Peruzzi peppered his shows with references to Boston.
"Vinnie was very much a Boston person," McKenna said. "He had an understanding for the neighborhoods
and the area, and could speak the language of the listeners. "Mr. Peruzzi, who graduated from the University
of Massachusetts at Amherst in the mid-1970s with a degree in radio communication, was constantly on the
prowl for talent playing in local clubs whose songs he believed deserved a national audience.
Authorities on the radio industry credit him for boosting the profile of Candi Station, who sang the hit
"Young Hearts Run Free," and Vicki Sue Robinson, whose "Turn the Beat Around" became a hit.
Mr. Peruzzi got his start at a campus station at UMass-Amherst. He landed a job at WBZ-FM, where he was the
host of one of his first shows. He later moved to WEZE, WNTN, and Kiss 108 FM, hosting a 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. show.
When disco lost favor, Mr. Peruzzi dropped the "Disco" from his nickname, and for a while was known as
"Vinnie" or "Peruzzi. "He switched over to Star 93.7 in the mid-1990s, and hosted his last show there in July.
Just as he rode the roller coaster of disco music's popularity, he also took every opportunity he could to ride
the roller coasters of the world, taking weeks off to go to Europe or drive his blue van, with a license plate
that read "Vin Van," up and down the East Coast to amusements parks.
Mr. Peruzzi was also known for being a lobster junkie, buying four or five a week
and leaving a few live crustaceans on his counters.
Mr. Peruzzi was hardly your typical disc jockey, McKenna said. While many try to outdo one another to
land better time slots on the air, Mr. Peruzzi was not competitive in that regard. He worked nights and
weekends to create the flexibility to take off on his cross-country adventures, rather than clamor for prime
air time. Globe reviews from the late 1970s said he often would get "amiably annoyed at critics who put
down disco and is anything but elitist himself." "The name may change from disco to something else,
but danceability is the key, and we think we've got it," he told the Globe in 1978.
He often went not for the artist, but the songs themselves."But in the final analysis, it's the song, the sound,
not the artists that makes a disco hit. Sure, Donna Summer, the Trammps, the Village People, and a few
others have almost guaranteed hits, but in other cases, the arranger-producer is the important person, and
the group is just a studio group, not a group in the usual rock music sense," he told the Globe.
Mr. Peruzzi leaves his mother Gilda (Biagioni) of Quincy; his sisters Angela Cardarelli of Burlington
and Linda Zandona of Santa Barbara, Calif.; and several nieces and nephews.
A funeral Mass will be said at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. John's Church in Quincy.
Interment will be in Forest Hills Cemetery in Braintree.
© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company