Piamenta performing at a concert in Jerusalem's Old City in 2009
|Birth name||Yoseph Piamenta|
|Also known as||Yosi Piamenta|
29 November 1951|
23 August 2015 (aged 63)|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Genres||Jewish rock, blues rock, psychedelic rock, hard rock, nigunim|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, guitarist, singer-songwriter, artist|
|Instruments||Vocals, Fender Stratocaster guitar|
|Associated acts||The Piamenta Band, Yosi Piamenta and the Heavenly Jams Band, Piamenta Brothers|
Yosi Piamenta (November 29, 1951 – August 23, 2015) was an Orthodox Jewish singer-songwriter and guitarist, known for introducing the electric guitar to Jewish music. Piamenta played rock and roll tunes, often infused with heavy rock licks and extended guitar solos – all while dressed in Orthodox Jewish religious clothing and singing Biblical Hebrew lyrics. Piamenta was widely acknowledged by rock critics as a guitar virtuoso.
In addition to being an original songwriter, Piamenta covered others' music in the religious Jewish music category – his album Songs of the Rebbes includes various Lubavitch, Belz, and Sephardi nigunim and zemirot – as well as secular American music, such as Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, and Jimi Hendrix. Piamenta described his music style saying, "I do klezmer with electric guitar".
Piamenta was born in Jerusalem in 1951 to Yehuda and Genia Piamenta. In 1962, when he was 12 years old, Piamenta moved with his family to Tel Aviv. There, he received his first guitar from his uncle, Albert Piamenta, an Israeli saxophonist. Growing up, he practiced traditional Judaism.
In his 20s, Piamenta moved to New York together with his brother, Avi Piamenta, with the intention of working on a joint album with American saxophone player Stan Getz. The album was a success, but Piamenta disapproved of the entertainment industry lifestyle and turned to religion, joining the Orthodox Jewish community. He married his 16-year-old cousin, Vivian, and they raised six children together; the couple separated in 2005.
Piamenta lived in Flatbush, Brooklyn, for over 20 years before moving back to Israel to reside near his father. Piamenta said that he moved back to Israel permanently. He said, "My father, who is 80, called me in New York and said, 'Come back to Israel, be with me a little'. He never talked in that tone before, and I decided to come back. All my life I have played and made music and I won't stop. Now I will play in Israel and form a band and go abroad for gigs wherever I am invited. My base from today on is Tel Aviv". His father, Yehuda, has since died.
In August 2014, Piamenta, together with Avi Piamenta and Naftali Kalfa, released a single, "Yaancha," calling it a "prayer for Piamenta's recovery". On April 14, 2015, Piamenta's Facebook page disclosed that "Yosi is not doing well" and asked fans to "Please pray your hearts out". On April 17, 2015 Piamenta fell into a coma; he woke up from the coma two days later. Piamenta underwent surgery for cancer at the Sheba Medical Center. He died in New York on August 23, 2015.
In 1974, Piamenta formed a band with his brother Avi, a flutist. By 1976, the brothers had been discovered by Getz, who invited them to record with him in New York. Piamenta was 26 years old when he arrived in New York and embarked on a tour with Getz throughout the United States. After the tour, the Piamentas joined Getz on tour in Israel. After recording an album with Getz, Piamenta became a baal teshuva (observant Orthodox Jew).
Piamenta's fan base was bifurcated. A majority of Piamenta's large fan base appreciated him as an iconic Jewish musician and attended his live performances at religious events and Jewish concerts and weddings. Piamenta has also attracted a fan base subculture following of his music that particularly enjoyed his take on rock, blues and his lengthy guitar solos that he usually plays only at smaller concerts held in bars and clubs.
In addition to his live performances, Piamenta released a series of widely received studio albums that can be found in many Jewish home in the US and Israel. The Piamenta Band was one of the most-requested groups of musicians for Jewish weddings over the last century. Most, but not all, of Piamenta's concerts and albums were performed or recorded in conjunction with his brother, Avi.
- Let's Dance with the Piamentas (1981)
- A Medley of Chassidic Hits (1982)
- Mitzvah (1984)
- Tismach (1988)
- Piamenta 1990 (1989)
- Songs of the Rebbes (1992)
- The Way You Like It! (1995)
- Strings of My Heart (1998)
- Big Time (with Avi Piamenta) (2000)
- Piamenta Live NYC Performance
- Sason Vesimcha – a Piamenta Wedding (with Avi Piamenta) (2003)
- Live at Crash Mansion (with the Heavenly Jams Band)
- Sameach (with Avi Piamenta and Shlomo Haviv) (2004)
- Yihiyu Leratzon (with Naftali Kalfa) (2007)
- Yosi's Niggun by Avi Piamenta & Achiya Asher Cohen-Alloro) (2016)
- "Hasidic Musician Yosi Piamenta Dies at 64". Arutz Sheva. 24 August 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
- "Famed Musician Yosi Piamenta Releases Song Yaancha as a Prayer for his Recovery". Yeshiva World News. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- Ramirez, Chris. "Rocking All Night, in Hebrew". New York Times. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- Gehr, Richard. "Yosi Piamenta". The Village Voice. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- Pareles, Jon. "Reviews/Music; Introducing Hasid Rock". New York Times. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- Wieder, Paul. "A blast from the electric shofar". Jewish World Review.
- Ben Bresky. "Interview with Jewish Guitar Hero Yossi Piamenta". Israel National News. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
- Baruch Dayan Haemes. "Boruch Dayan Hoemes: Yehuda Piamenta OBM". Crown Heights Info.
- Bresky, Binyamin; Turner, Tzvi. "Interview with Yossi Piamenta". Cleveland Jewish Radio. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- "Yosi Piamenta Info". Facebook. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- Col Live. "Piamenta Strung out". Chabad Lubavitch Community News Service. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- "Song is Prayer for Singers Recovery". Chabad Lubavitch Community News Service. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- "Yosi Piamenta". Facebook. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- "Yosi Piamenta, 'Hasidic Hendrix,' in Coma". Tablet. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- "Yosi Piamenta Wakes From Coma". COLLIVE Community News Service. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- "Guitarist Aims to be Original". Lawrence Journal World. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- "Yosi Piamenta". Facebook. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- "Yosi Piamenta Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 November 2014.