Nobody in John Paul Bongiorno’s family is named Keith or Mick. The Paradigm agent was named after John Lennon and Paul McCartney – and there was a strict ‘No Rolling Stones’ policy in his parents’ household.
“My parents thought the Rolling Stones were the competition for the Beatles and therefore had no place in our house,” Bongiorno told Amplify. “They were among the people who thought if you liked The Beatles you could not like the Rolling Stones. My parents taught me to hate on the Rolling Stones.”
Bongiorno explained that he still doesn’t get the Stones, but his love for Paul McCartney is never-ending.
“I’m in this very small group of people that would say that I’m a bigger fan of Wings than I am of the Beatles,” said Bongiorno. “Wings were a huge band when I was growing up in the 70s and my parents were listening to Wings records as much or more than the Beatles records. Wings ended up being more a part of my DNA than the Beatles because they were more current when I was young.”
His love for music landed him in a prog-punk band in his 20s with a lead singer who wanted to be Prince. Bongiorno said he realized that wasn’t going to work out when he was 25 and still living with his parents. He chose to curve his path into music by picking up a popular book.
“I read Donald Passman’s ‘All You Need to Know About the Music Business’ and in there he was weighing the different jobs and the different roles for people in the music business,” he said. “He wrote something along the lines of being an agent is the best of all the world’s combined. So I said, ‘Okay. That’s what I want to be. I want to be an agent.'”
Bongiorno got a job in the mailroom at Associated Booking Corporation. Three weeks later he was an agent – and hasn’t looked back since. Amplify caught up him to discuss his five most memorable shows.
Pink Floyd at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey
July 17, 1994
I haven’t been to many stadium shows, but this one was my first. I remember walking from one level to another in the hallways and seeing two girls face down, passed out in their own vomit. I wondered if they were dead or just really high as I walked by. I might have been high myself. I hope they ended up okay. Show was great!
Queens Of The Stone Age at Paradise in Boston
June 1, 2002
This was the tour where Dave Grohl played drums. We followed them around, seeing them in DC, Philly, New York and Boston. We got there early and stood right in the very front. I didn’t have earplugs (huge mistake) and at one point was jamming pieces of the Boston Phoenix (newspaper) in my ears and Dave Grohl looked at me and mouthed “What’s it, too loud for ya?”
Vulfpeck at Brooklyn Steel in New York
Sept. 8, 2017
This show just happened. I am a huge fan, but my 12 year-old daughter is also a huge fan, and this is the first artist we have totally bonded over together. She came with me to this show (even though it was 16-plus, shhhh) and she was so happy to hear all her favorite songs. It was a truly unforgettable night for dad and daughter. She also asked me about the smell of weed for the first time at this show, too.
King Crimson at Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, New Jersey
Nov. 10, 2000
King Crimson was my favorite band for many years and this was my first time seeing them. I remember asking (promoter) Tony Pallagrosi if I could get comp tickets for me and two friends, and he told me “Bring a busload of friends” which I soon learned meant the show was a stiff. Anyway, the place sounded like crap and I couldn’t catch all the proggy, jazzy ghost notes. And I remember the lobby being full of older men and thinking, “This is what an AA meeting probably looks like.”
Metallica at Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York
Nov. 28, 1986
This was the obligatory “first show” ever. I remember my mother being seriously worried about where I was headed around this time. The defining moment of the show was during ‘Creeping Death’ when the band was getting the audience to chant “DIE! DIE! DIE!” and I decided that was stupid and sat down in my chair. I didn’t really like Metallica much after that. They started to go downhill fast right around this time, in my opinion.