Enrico Rosenbaum (born 1944 in Italy, died September 10, 1979) was an American songwriter, arranger, producer, guitarist and singer. 'Rico' was a founding member of Minneapolis-Saint Paul bands The Escapades (on New Year's Eve 1964-1965 the opening act for Chuck Berry) and later as The Underbeats, then renamed in 1969 as Gypsy.
Enrico was raised in St. Paul’s Highland Park, a middle to upper-middle-class neighborhood. Enrico’s mother and father were both concentration camp survivors. His mother, Ida, was musically inclined herself and performed locally as a club singer, singing songs from the 20’ and 30’s. Ida was the primary bread winner of the family. She worked as a seamstress at a local Sears Store.
Enrico’s father, Hubert was a wonderful charming man. Prior to the Nazi scourge he was a very successful businessman who lost everything during the war. The concentration camps left him in poor health but he was able to work in the United States as a real estate agent. Hubert was a very dapper man, a real old world gentleman who would tip his hat to women and offer a broad smile.
As a result of his parent’s background, Enrico was fluent in several languages. It was not unusual to hear heated discussions between Enrico and his mother in Italian or one of the other languages he could speak. Ida was able to communicate in six different languages and was very fluent in all of them.
He attended St. Paul Central high school graduating in 1962. During his high school years, he taught himself to play guitar and formed a couple of small garage bands with fellow high school friends. He was a natural singer and performer. His good looks didn’t hurt his on stage image either.
Enrico attended the University of Minnesota briefly but left to pursue a professional music career. During the Viet Nam war, Enrico enlisted in the Marine Corps as a reservist. After serving his active duty requirements he resumed his position as lead singer and writer of the very popular Minneapolis based band, The Underbeats. This group had great commercial success and were a regular at many hot local clubs. They had recorded two songs that received widespread airplay.
Seeking a higher profile and more success the band changed their name to Gypsy and moved to Los Angeles. They became the house band at the Whisky A Go Go and opened for several high profile acts including Jimi Hendrix and The Guess Who and Steppenwolf. They also were friends with Chicago and had the Chicago’s tight horn section record on their albums.
During this period they signed with record label Metromedia and released their first album. This double album is still regarded as their best and it has a high collector’s value. The album was rereleased after Enrico’s death due to high demand by a Minneapolis record company.
Metromedia was an underfunded label and did a very poor job of promoting the band. They later were signed by RCA but this label also did a poor job of promotion even though the band did well in drawing large audiences when touring.
Drugs entered the lives of some band members including Enrico who became addicted to Heroin. One of Enrico’s last performance with his band was a reunion concert in St. Louis.
Enrico’s end came by his own hand while he was trying to establish a new career in music but by then his addiction prevented any real possibility of success. He had lost nearly all of his personal possessions and was living with friends in the Los Angeles area.
Enrico is remembered by his friends as high spirited, talented, driven and with a great sense of humor.