Guitarist Rick Vito was born in Darby, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. Though very young, Rick distinctly remembers the impact of the early years of Rock & Roll and the effect it had on his interest in playing the guitar. Rick tried lessons a few times around this time but soon abandoned them preferring instead to work things out by ear.
From this point, Rick picked up bits and pieces from the likes of DUANE EDDY, CHUCK BERRY, THE VENTURES, and whatever else could be seen and heard on radio and TV.
Rick, at this point, became immersed in learning to perfect his Blues playing by studying the styles of the great Blues masters. At the top of this list was the great B.B. KING, and also included such stellar musicians as ELMORE JAMES, MAGIC SAM, SLIM HARPO, OTIS RUSH, FREDDIE and ALBERT KING, EARL HOOKER and many others. Vito also took much inspiration from second generation interpreters of the music, such as JOHN HAMMOND, PAUL BUTTERFIELD with MIKE BLOOMFIELD, TAJ MAHAL with JESSE ED DAVIS, and PETER GREEN. Rick recalls: “I went to see the original FLEETWOOD MAC with Peter Green at The Electric Factory in Philadelphia around 1968, and thirty years later, I’m still in awe of his performance that night. Peter was a master of taste and tone, sang great songs amazingly well, and was obviously the guiding force behind his band. He was just about everything I wanted to be as a musician. I’m still working on it!”
In the early 70’s, Rick had an experience that was to change the course of his professional life. Having heard and loving their first two records, Rick decided to introduce himself to the musical duo DELANEY and BONNIE BRAMLETT, and play them the tapes he had made in New York. The three hit it off and Rick was invited to sit in at their show. This experience both blew the roof off the joint, and left Rick with the undeniable realization that there would be no other course in life for him other than music. He decided then to take Delaney’s advice and move to the heart of the music business, Los Angeles, California.
Moving to the Hollywood Hills in the summer of 1971, Rick did his first pro work on tour with Delaney & Bonnie. Soon after, he began to establish himself as a respected recording session player first appearing on Todd Rundgren’s classic album, “SOMETHING ANYTHING”. At this time Rick also worked with such artists as LITTLE RICHARD, BOBBY WHITLOCK, JOHN PRINE, and DOBIE GRAY among many others.
Late in 1974 Rick received an invitation to join a new band being formed by British Blues pioneer, JOHN MAYALL, with whom Rick worked with subsequently on four albums. In the following years, Rick was a member of ex-BYRD ROGER MCGUINN’s group, THUNDERBYRD, and also a founding member of Los Angeles club favorites, the ANGEL CITY RHYTHM BAND. With the ACRB, Rick had a unique opportunity to back many of the Blues greats he had been influenced by. Performing regularly at the Topanga Canyon Corral club on Monday Blues nights, they regularly held court with ALBERT COLLINS, LOWELL FULSON, BIG JOE TURNER, and GEORGE ‘HARMONICA’ SMITH, among many others.
In between solo recording and live shows in the LA area, Rick continued session dates with many artists including RITA COOLIDGE, MARIA MULDAUR, and DOLLY PARTON, when he came to the attention of legendary rocker, BOB SEGER. Looking for a rootsy guitar sound to add to his work in progress, Bob enlisted Rick to try his hand at a solo over two long passages in a song entitled, “LIKE A ROCK”. The result of Vito’s efforts is now considered something of a classic in expressive slide guitar bravura. Of the experience Seger says in his “GREATEST HITS” liner notes: “My fondest memory of this recording is of (co-producer) DAVID COLE and I listening to Rick Vito play the slide guitar solo late one night at Rumbo Studios in LA. It was the single most spectacular overdub I’d ever heard
“I got a call one day from MICK FLEETWOOD. We’d played together a couple of times on a BILLY BURNETTE session and at one of my gigs, and he liked the fact that I was a fan of Peter Green. LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM had just been let go and Mick wanted Billy and I to learn some Mac tunes and come over to play with the band. I had been feeling lately that something was brewing with my career anyway, so when I hung up the phone I turned to my wife Aimee and said, “that’s it, I’m going to join FLEETWOOD MAC”!”
Rick did join the band as a member in July, 1987 and began rehearsing for the “TANGO IN THE NIGHT” world tour. The excitement and excellence of Fleetwood Mac during this period was captured live in a full-length concert video of the same name, released by Warner Brothers in 1988. Vito’s playing and singing is especially well represented in a faithlul version of Peter Green’s “I LOVED ANOTHER WOMAN”. Soon after, the group released it’s “GREATEST HITS” album which featured two new cuts on which feature Rick. In 1989 Fleetwood Mac began work on what would become “BEHIND THE MASK”, a solid collection of songs by CHRISTINE MCVIE, STEVIE NICKS, and Billy Burnette, as well as four original tunes written and performed by Rick Vito. Again the Mac followed with an incredible world tour.
During 1998 and 1999, Rick also participated in a highly visible world tour with singer/guitarist BONNIE RAITT in support of her CD, “FUNDAMENTAL”. During this time he appeared on “OPRAH”, “DAVID LETTERMAN”, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”, “ROSIE O’DONNEL”, “CONAN O’BRIEN”, VHI STORYTELLERS, as well as the LILLITH FAIR TOUR and the ERIC CLAPTON EUROPEAN TOUR.
In 2002 Rick was the recipient of the W.C. HANDY award for “BLUES SONG OF THE YEAR 2001” for his composition, “IT’S 2 A.M.”, as performed by the incredible blues shouter, SHEMEKIA COPELAND.
In 2007 and 2008 Rick began forging new ground with old friend and bandmate MICK FLEETWOOD. The two have partnered in two ensembles, the ISLAND RUMOURS BAND, and the MICK FLEETWOOD BLUES BAND.
“Soulful singer, brilliant guitar player, you got to check out Rick Vito, for sure!” – Keb Mo’
In 2009-2010, “Blue Again,” the live DVD from the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band featuring Rick Vito was released in the US, Europe and Australia. This exciting video was captured on the band’s European tour in Canterbury, England, and features seven Vito compositions. Shortly after its release, it was honored by being nominated for a 2010 Grammy Award in the “Best Traditional Blues” category.
Rick’s most recent activities have included a much heralded live appearances at the NAMM Show where he demonstrated the latest Rick Vito Signature guitar (now the best-selling model in the Reverend Guitars lineup), and a show-stealing set at Deke Dickerson’s Annual Guitar Fest in Anaheim, CA. Rick also appears on “Memphis,” the 2013 recording from the great Boz Scaggs.
Rick Vito is not to be missed and he makes his Edmonton Blues Festival debut Friday evening!