Guitarist Con Astone, 79, died on May 26. He had been a member of Local 802 since 1955.
Local 802 received the following tribute from Con Astone’s son Erik: “Now appearing in Heaven, Con Astone, fresh from his club date on Earth, and finally reunited and whole with his beautiful wife Dorothy. They are no longer two but one again. Death has been vanquished; they won’t ever be apart. God gives His eternal rest and His eternal bliss to His servant Con Astone. There is so much to write about this amazing human being. Words could do no justice to his life. He lives on in the lives of his family. This includes his brother Elias (Al), an accordionist who is also a member of Local 802 (see his tribute at top). My dad is also survived by his children Scott, Marc and myself, grandchildren Alexander, Adam, Nicole, Zachary, Nicholas, Christopher, Matthew and Oliver, great-granddaughter Shealynn Eloise, niece Patricia (as well as other nieces), all his friends, and last but not least, his dog Elvis. The leader of the band has passed,and his instrument is at rest; we are all the living legacy of the leader of the band.”
REMEMBERING CON ASTONE
As a young boy, my brother Con loved guitar music and major league baseball. He wanted both careers! Our father said to choose one and do it well. Music won him over and Papa gave him his blessing. Con started playing while working at the Gretsch guitar company in Brooklyn. He admired Johnny Smith, Tal Farlow, Tony Mottola and Bucky Pizzarelli, who inspired him greatly. Within a short time, he became a magnificent guitarist just from constructing and tuning guitars.
One day, my friend Teddy Randazzo asked me if I could recommend a guitarist. I told him about Con, and he agreed to hear him play. Teddy loved him! Con ended up playing with Teddy at the Copacabana in NYC and also at Alan Freed’s R&R Extravaganza at the Paramount Theatre. They also played together at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas. Some time later, Teddy retired from performing and went into songwriting and producing. Con, Teddy, and Tony Mottola made many recordings with producer-conductor Don Costa. Con then decided he wanted more freedom in his playing and decided to join me as a duo. (I play accordion.) Thus, the “Alcons” were born. We won contracts with the Brunswick and Coral labels, which were subsidiaries of Decca Records. We played many engagements around New York as well as at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, where we appeared with Red Skelton and Lionel Hampton. One composition which Con wrote, called “Blackjack,” did quite well on the charts, which netted us an appearance on Dick Clark’s TV show.
But Con was very restless, always wanting to evolve in different areas. So we decided to go our separate ways into freelance work. Con then recorded on his own independent labels as a soloist as well as with Pat Cooper and Jimmy Roselli. He continued playing until he moved to Florida.
Con will be greatly missed by his children and grandchildren. As his brother, I have a myriad of very, very happy memories. May he rest in peace.
–Elias (AL) Astone
A TRIBUTE TO MY FRIEND CON
I was in a little high school band. One of the guys said, “You won’t believe who’s coming tonight to sit in with us.” And Con Astone came in. I know the year because he drove a brand-new 1957 Ford Fairlane. It was like a movie star coming in. From then on, I worked with him. He was amazing. He was the type of person that if he came into the room, he would take it over. He had a magnetic personality. He became like a big brother to me. He even taught me how to dress! He was charming, funny and a great guitar player, but he even showed me more about drums than other drummers. Con was the most dynamic guy I ever was around and the most beautiful guy who I ever was associated all these years, without a doubt. The best, absolutely the best. I loved him.