Richie Castellano, member of Blue Öyster Cult, in 2009
|Born||February 7, 1980|
Brooklyn, New York City, US
|Genres||Hard rock, heavy metal, psychedelic rock|
|Instruments||Bass guitar, guitar, keyboards, vocals|
|Years active||2004 – present|
|Associated acts||Blue Öyster Cult|
A fifth generation musician, Richie Castellano was born in Brooklyn, New York City on February 7, 1980. The Castellano family moved to Staten Island in 1985. He began to study guitar at the age of seven. Among his early musical influences were Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens. By the early 1990s, influenced by the Beatles, he began songwriting, as well as recording on a 16-track reel-to-reel studio he had assembled in the basement of his house. Later influences included Yes, Genesis, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. He also cites the music of Queen as an important influence on the development of his musical style.
After spending his first semester of high school at Port Richmond, Staten Island, Castellano transferred to Curtis High School in Staten Island, where he joined the Curtis High School Guitar Ensemble. At that time, Castellano met Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, who became one of his most important mentors. In 1997, inspired in part by Thal's 1995 debut solo album The Adventures of Bumblefoot, Castellano recorded a 13-song solo concept album. This album, entitled Alone in My Basement, was surprisingly successful, selling out of its initial pressing within one month of its release. He won two songwriting awards for one of the songs from Alone in My Basement. The album was also acclaimed in EQ magazine for the unusual methods employed in its recording and production. He won a competition to write a song for his high school graduation. Castellano graduated from Curtis High School in 1998.
College and graduate school:1998–2002
Castellano enrolled in the Conservatory of Music at the State University of New York at Purchase in 1998. He majored in Studio Production, studying the then-new practice of digital recording. From 1999–2001, he produced and engineered Regina Spektor's debut album, 11:11, which was self-released on CD on July 9, 2001. During the summer of 2000, Castellano studied advanced digital recording techniques and audio engineering at Wave Studio in Staten Island, under the instruction of Ron Thal. Castellano assisted Thal with the production of his album, Uncool. That year, he also began his association with Blue Öyster Cult as a substitute Front of House engineer. Also around this time, he and one of his professors, Grammy Award-nominated producer Dr. Joe Ferry, were involved in a band, "Richie & the Pocketrockets". This band released one album, entitled Touch of Blue: The Blues Tribute to the Grateful Dead, on CMH Records on August 21, 2001.
Upon earning his Bachelor's degree in music production, he embarked began post-graduate studies under Dr. Ferry, while also working as a staff producer at Ferry's record label, Larchmont Records. Castellano earned his Master's degree in Music from the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music in December 2002.
Blue Öyster Cult: 2003–present
In December 2003, Castellano served as sound engineer on Blue Öyster Cult's 13 city tour of Germany. He first performed with Blue Öyster Cult as bass guitarist in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 18, 2004, shortly after Danny Miranda left the band. He remained in that position until early 2007, when original member Allen Lanier retired from the band. At that time, Castellano filled the position of rhythm guitar and keyboards, while Danny Miranda returned briefly to fill the position of bassist. By April 2007, the bass guitar position was filled by Rudy Sarzo on a semi-permanent basis.
Awards and recognition
- 1996: Berklee College of Music soloist award
- 1998: first place award in the songwriting competition of the Songwriters Hall of Fame
- 1998: third place award in the "World of Expression" Scholarship Program competition of the Bertelsmann Foundation (now known as the Random House Creative Writing Competition)
Castellano currently uses guitars manufactured by Ernie Ball Music Man. Chief among these are the Axis, Axis Super Sport, Silhouette Special, and Sterling. He also uses the Line 6 X2 XDS Plus wireless guitar system.
In addition to performing with Blue Öyster Cult, he also plays guitar in the band Morning Starlett. He also works in his family's music store (Castellano's House of Music) in Staten Island on a private basis. In 2011, Castellano had a viral video hit with his rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" where he performed all of the vocals and instrumentals.
In May 2014, Castellano began a podcast called Band Geek with Richie Castellano.
- Nicole Inglis (June 18, 2010). "Blue Oyster Cult to play free show Saturday at Craig City Park". Craig Daily Press. Craig, Colorado: Craig Daily Press. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
- Tioga Downs Casino (May 27, 2010). "Blue Oyster Cult Ready to Rock the Downs". Nichols, New York: Tioga Downs Casino. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
- Richie Castellano (August 16, 2009). "Richie Castellano Official Website: Bio". New York, NY: Extra Ordinary Productions. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
- Richie Castellano (December 2004). "Castellano, Richie". Discoogle.com. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
- "Blue Öyster Cult Official Site: Richie Castellano". New York, NY: Extra Ordinary Productions. 2010. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
- "Touch of Blue: The Blues Tribute to the Grateful Dead". Los Angeles: CMH Records. 2010. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
- "Bobby Rondinelli and Danny Miranda leave Blue Öyster Cult". New York, NY. September 14, 2004. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
- "Richie Castellano". Staten Island, NY: Castellano's House of Music. 2010. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
- "Band Geek". riotcast.com. Retrieved 2017-01-31.