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A Pittsburgh Guitar Great Passes
August 11, 2010 - Jim Price
One of the marquee names of the Pittsburgh area music scene lost his 3-year battle against cancer this past Monday night, August 9. Glenn Pavone was 52.
A native of Alexandria, Virginia, Pavone relocated to the Pittsburgh area in 1982, and soon became known to Pennsylvania audiences as the lead guitarist for Billy Price and the Keystone Rhythm Band. After a 9-year run with that group, Pavone left to form his own band, The Cyclones, and continued to generate blues-rocking excitement on regional stages up until his passing.
Pavone graced Altoona area stages several times during his time with both bands. His last performance in the Altoona area happened on September 9, 2006 at Burgi’s Roundhouse in Greenwood; when he and the Cyclones did a memorable double-bill with local favorites Felix & the Hurricanes. During the Cyclones’ final set, lead Hurricane Felix Kos joined the Cyclones onstage, and the two guitarists blended their talents to create some dazzling guitar fireworks for the remainder of the night.
The Hurricanes greatly admired and respected Glenn and the Cyclones, and have even covered one of the group’s songs, “Postal Jack,” during their performances.
On Thanksgiving Eve last year, Pavone and the Cyclones opened for The Billy Price Band during the annual “Night of Rock, Rhythm & Blues” benefit at Ace’s Lounge in Johnstown. A big highlight from this night was Pavone rejoining Price onstage for the first time in 20 years; in what would be the final time the two performers graced a stage together.
My final time seeing Glenn Pavone in action was during Johnstown’s Thunder In The Valley motorcycle rally in late June. Although Pavone looked frail from his ordeal with cancer, his guitar playing was as fiery and inspired as ever. He took a moment near the end of his performance to thank all the fans for their support of him and his wife over the past two years.
Pavone’s final performance occurred on July 24 during the annual Pittsburgh Blues Festival, as he appeared with the Pittsburgh Blues All-Stars, a blues jam session hosted by fellow Pittsburgh music luminary Norman Nardini. Nardini turned the session into a tribute to Pavone, allowing his talents to shine front and center for much of the performance.
Off the stage, Pavone was down to earth, humble and gracious. In the few opportunities I had to speak with him, he was humble about his talents, and always appreciated that people enjoyed his playing. He genuinely loved making music.
Pavone is survived by his wife of 21 years, Nancy.
Glenn Pavone during his last Altoona appearance, at Burgi's Roundhouse on September 9, 2006.