Vincent Montana Jr.

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Vince Montana
Birth name Vincent Montana Jr.
Born (1928-02-12)February 12, 1928
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died April 13, 2013(2013-04-13) (aged 85)
Cherry Hill, New Jersey, United States
Genres Jazz, soul, disco
Occupation(s) Percussionist, arranger, bandleader, composer
Years active c.1950 - 2000s
Labels Salsoul, Atlantic, Philly Sound Works
Associated acts MFSB, The Salsoul Orchestra

Vincent Montana Jr. (February 12, 1928 – April 13, 2013), known as Vince Montana, was an American composer, arranger, and percussionist, best known as a member of MFSB and as the founder of the Salsoul Orchestra. He has been called "the Godfather of disco".[1]

Life and career[edit]

Montana was born in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood. He began playing drums as a child and soon took up other percussion instruments, including the glockenspiel and marimba. By the late 1940s, he regularly played in nightclubs with jazz musicians such as Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Clifford Brown and Red Garland. He then spent time as a musician in Las Vegas hotels, accompanying and arranging for Harry Belafonte, Louis Prima and others.[2] He returned to Philadelphia in the late 1950s, playing vibraphone on Frankie Avalon's 1959 hit "Venus", as well as recordings by Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell and others. Around the same time, he started to be featured regularly on the nationally syndicated TV talk show, The Mike Douglas Show.[1][3]

He helped to set up Sigma Sound Studios, owned by Joe Tarsia in Philadelphia in 1967 and began working there with record producers Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell. He was a founding member of MFSB and recorded several albums with the orchestra, including the international hit track, "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)", a Grammy award winner released in 1973. He played on and arranged many tracks by The Intruders, The Delfonics, The Spinners, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, The O'Jays, The Trammps, Eddie Kendricks, William DeVaughn, Billy Paul, Lou Rawls, The Stylistics, Teddy Pendergrass, and many others.[1][2][3]

However, he fell out with Gamble and Huff over financial issues and in 1974, after being introduced by Joe Bataan, joined with the Cayre brothers - Cayre brothers, Kenneth, Stanley, and Joseph - owners of Caytronics, a New York-based distributor of Latin music - to set up the Salsoul label. Several of the Philadelphia musicians, including Norman Harris, Ronnie Baker and Earl Young, left MFSB to join him for sessions and production work. Montana established The Salsoul Orchestra and their first record for the label, "Salsoul Hustle" was a commercial success. The orchestra recorded six albums for the label over the next three years, including a 'gold' Christmas album, with Montana producing, arranging and conducting most tracks. Ken Cayre praised Montana's skill at scoring strings, brass and diverse percussion in such a way that it all worked within a dance recording.[citation needed] The Salsoul Orchestra has been credited as "the first disco orchestra".[3] Montana also worked at Salsoul with other musicians and singers, including First Choice and Loleatta Holloway.[2]

Montana left Salsoul in 1978 to join Atlantic Records for several albums before launching his own Philly Sound Works label.[1] His recording of "Heavy Vibes", a reworking of part of MFSB's "Love Is The Message" credited to the Montana Sextet, reached no.59 on the UK singles chart in 1983.[2][4] In later years, Montana worked with house music duo Masters at Work, which rekindled interest in his work. Most recently, Montana worked on "New York City Boy" by the Pet Shop Boys.[1][5]

He died at Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on April 13, 2013, at the age of 85.[1][5]


PL = played on recording with vibraphone, percussion, timpani, marimba, orchestra bells and/or chimes.
AC = arranged musical composition and conducted recording session.
P = produced recording session and booked musicians.
WC = writer and publisher of the composition.
  • PL Frankie Avalon "Venus" 1959
  • PL The Soul Survivors "Expressway to Your Heart" 1967
  • PL Cliff Nobles' hit instrumental "The Horse" 1968
  • PL Eddie Holman "Hey There Lonely Girl" 1969
  • PL The Delfonics (LP) La-La (Means I Love You) featuring "I’m Sorry" 1969
  • PL The Intruders' first album, The Intruders Are Together including "Together" and "United" 1967
  • Cowboys to Girls album including the hit title song 1968
  • Save The Children album including the hit song "I'll Always Love My Mama" 1970
  • When We Get Married album 1973
  • The Energy of Love album 1974
  • PL Jerry Butler - You and Me, The Ice Man Cometh, Soul Goes On, The Spice of Life, Ice on Ice 1969-1972
  • PL The O’Jays The O'Jays in Philadelphia including "One Night Affair"
  • Backstabbers including: "Love Train", "992 Arguments", and the title track, "Backstabbers"
  • Family Reunion including "I Love Music" 1969-1975
  • PL Wilson Pickett Wilson Pickett In Philadelphia 1970
  • PL Dusty Springfield A Brand New Me 1970
  • PL The Assembled Multitude Overture For Tommy 1970
  • PL The Philly Ambassadors The Ambassadors 1970
  • PL/AC The Electric Indians The Electric Indians
  • PL/AC Cissy Houston Cissy Houston on Janice Records 1971
  • PL The Family (aka MFSB Family Affair
  • PL The Stylistics You are Everything 1971
  • PL The Stylistics Round 2 1972
  • PL Joe Simon Drowning in the Sea of Love 1972
  • PL Ronnie Dyson One Man Band 1972
  • PL Dick Jenson Dick Jenson 1973
  • PL/AC True Reflection "Where I’m Coming From", "Helpless Man", "Look at all the Lonely People" 1973
  • PL Johnny Mathis I'm Coming Home 1973
  • PL Billy Paul Ebony Woman, Going East, The 360 Degrees of Billy Paul, Feeling Good at the Cadillac Club 1972-73
  • PL Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes I Miss You, All Things Happen in Time, "Black and Blue"
  • AC "Is There A Place For Me", "Cabaret" and "The Love I Lost" 1973
  • PL The Spinners The Spinners 1973
  • PL/AC The First Choice Armed and Extremely Dangerous 1974 The Player
  • PL/AC The Whispers Bingo, The True Reflection 1973/74
  • PL/AC The Ebonys The Ebonys 1973
  • PL/AC The Jackson 5 Third Album 1973
  • PL/AC Brenda and The Tabulations Brenda and The Tabulations 1973
  • PL Patti LaBelle LaBelle 1973
  • PL/AC The Trammps "Disco Inferno" (single and LP) 1973
  • PL Lou Rawls Lou Rawls 1973
  • PL/AC Eddie Kendricks Eddie Kendricks 1973
  • PL/AC Vic Damone Vic Damone 1973
  • PL/AC Jean Carne Jean Carne 1973
  • PL Barbara Mason Give Me Your Love 1973
  • PL Laura Nyro and Labelle "Gonna Take A Miracle" 1973
  • PL Billy Paul War of The Gods 1973
  • PL The O’Jays Ship Ahoy 1973
  • PL The Stylistics Rock and Roll Baby 1973
  • PL/AC Blue Magic The Magic of The Blue
  • PL/AC Blue Magic Blue Magic 1974
  • PL/AC The Delfonics Alive and Kicking 1974
  • PL Billy Paul Live in Europe 1974
  • PL William DeVaughn Be Thankful For What You Got 1974
  • PL Nancy Wilson Now I'm a Woman 1974
  • PL/AC "Blue Magic, Major Harris, Margie Joseph Live". Arranged and Conducted Live on Stage Production 1975
  • PL The Three Degrees International 1975
  • PL Disco Pak Get Down With The Philly Sound 1975
  • PL/AC The Salsoul Orchestra The Salsoul Orchestra 1975
  • WC/P "Salsoul Hustle", "Chicago Bus Stop (Ooh I Love It)", "You're Just The Right Size, "Salsoul Rainbow", "Tangerine", "Love Letters"
  • PL/AC The Salsoul Orchestra The Salsoul Strings 1975-1978
  • WC/P How Deep is Your Love
  • PL/AC Salsoul Orchestra, Electric Lady
  • WC/P Carol Williams 1976
  • PL/AC The Salsoul Orchestra Christmas Jollies 1976
  • PL/AC The Salsoul Orchestra Nice N' Nasty 1976
  • WC/P "It’s Good For the Soul" "Nice N' Nasty" "Ritzy Mambo
  • PL/AC Fat Larry’s Band Feel It and "Center City" 1976
  • PL/AC Astrud Gilberto That Girl From Ipanema 1976
  • PL/AC Grace Jones "Portfolio", "Tomorrow", "Send in The Clowns", "What I Did For Love" 1977
  • PL/AC The Salsoul Orchestra album 1975
  • PL/AC The Salsoul Orchestra Magic Journey including the hit "Run Away" featuring Loleatta Holloway 1977
  • WC "Disco Boogie" "Super Hits For Nonstop Dancing" 1977
  • PL/AC The Salsoul Orchestra’s Greatest Hits
  • WC "Music For Nonstop Dancing" Re-released 1975, 1976, and 1978
  • PL/AC Charo and The Salsoul Orchestra (LP) 1977
  • WC "Dance A Little Bit Closer"
  • PL/AC The Salsoul Saturday Night Disco Party 1978
  • PL Gordon Lowe "Follow The Sound"
  • PL Monk Montgomery: Reality 1974
  • PL/AC M.F.S.B. including "M.F.S.B." "Poinciana", "My One And Only Love"
  • Freddie's Dead, Philadelphia Freedom, M.F.S.B. Summertime, M.F.S.B. Universal Love, Love is The Message
  • PL Dee Dee Sharp "Happy ‘bout The Whole Thing"
  • PL/AC The Salsoul Orchestra Anthology 1995
  • PL Teddy Pendergrass This One's For You 1980
  • PL/AC Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes All Things Happen in Time 1981
  • PL/AC Montana "I Love Music" 1978
  • WC/P "A Dance Fantasy Inspired By Close Encounters of The Third Kind" 1978
  • "Goody Goody" "#1 Dee Jay and It Looks Like Love" 1979 Featuring Denise Montana
  • PL/AC Tito Puente and India (LP) Count Basie Orchestra 1996
  • WC "To Be In Love" and "Love Me"
  • PL/AC Mondo Groso and "Closer" 1997
  • PL/AC The Braxtons The Boss 1997
  • PL/AC Randy Crawford Wishing On a Star 1997
  • PL/AC Nuyorican Soul Runaway, Nautilus
  • WC "Sweet Tears" "I Am the Black Gold of the Sun" 1997 "Its Alright"
  • PL/AC Incognito (LP) Incognito featuring Jocelyn Brown "Always There" 1997


  1. ^ a b c d e f Perrone, Pierre (30 June 2013). "Vince Montana: Musician known as 'the Godfather of Disco'". The Independent. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Needs, Kris (June 2013). "Not Forgotten: Vincent Montana". Record Collector (415): 144. 
  3. ^ a b c Hogan, Ed. "Vince Montana: Artist Biography". Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 529. ISBN 0-00-717931-6. 
  5. ^ a b Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 2013 January to June". Retrieved 2013-04-17. 

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