Rocco Calipari of Head Honchos talks about his son, Chuck Berry, Buddy Guy & Jameson on the rocks

Head Honchos: Big, Bluesy & Forward

In a time when American music is too often characterized by emasculated melodies, narcissistic lyrics, and hyped mediocrity - the "Head Honchos" offer up intense body moving rhythms and emotionally charged guitar expressions.

Grounded on the foundations of American blues, rock, soul, and funk the "Head Honchos" launch their improvisational excursions with an irresistible invitation to kick back, let go, and enthusiastically ENJOY!!!

Rocco Calipari's Detroit schooled vocals will leave no doubt of the unapologetic American identity we all experience. In an artistic celebration of our shared pride and joy, the "Head Honchos" cover some of our most loved standards, while introducing to an appreciative audience "roots inspired" new tunes.

Do you want a good time? Are you looking for a great party? Do you enjoy the company of people who share your love of American music? If you said yes to any of these questions, you have to come out and hear the "Head Honchos".

Rocco Calipari Sr. is a skilled teacher of guitar and since 1995 has been playing lead guitar for "Howard and The White Boys". He recorded with Buddy Guy on Howard and the White Boy's CD, "The Big Score". Additionally, he has played with Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Carl Weathersby, Son Seals, and many more famous artists. As one of Chicago's great contemporary blues guitarists, Rocco has played in 40 states and 12 countries around the world.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Rocco, when was your first desire to become involved in the blues?

In the late 70's I was watching the show Soundstage on television the rock band Journey was on and they had Albert King, Luther Allison and Jerry Portnoy(harp) as guest and they stole the show.


Who were your first idols & what have been some of your musical influences?

My first idol was Chuck Berry, also little Richard & Jerry Lee Lewis. My father was my biggest influence.


What were the first songs you learned & what was the first gig you ever went to?

Honky Tonk by: Bill Doggett & Johnny B.Goode,Chuck Berry...First gig J.Geils Band 1978 Cobo Hall Detroit,MI.


Which artists have you worked with & which of the people you have worked with do you consider the best?

I recorded with Buddy Guy on Howard & The White Boys The Big Score. Howard McCullum, Jim Christopulos & Carl Weathersby are some of the best.


Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?

Best...Long Beach Blues fest playing with Chuck Berry & Bo Diddley. Worst...Broke my knee and fell off stage when I was 19.


What does the BLUES & what does offered you? Why do you play the blues?

All of the music I love starts with the Blues, it has given me a good living and taken me to places I would not have seen otherwise. I play the Blues because it always makes me feel good it's very emotional music.


How would you describe your contact to people when you are on stage?

It's very good. People tell me I look like I'm having alot of fun while playing and I think it rubs off.


What are some of your favorite blues standards?

Down Home Blues, Sweet 16.

Are there any memories of all these GREAT BLUESMEN which you’d like to share with us?

There are many but we once opened for B.B KING one of the greatest men you will ever meet. At that time I was Playing a Fender Strat and I asked him to sign my headstock he said he could not because it was not a Gibson but later he did and told me not to tell anyone.


What experiences in your life make you a GOOD musician?

There are alot of ups & downs in life they all play a role.


What mistake of music you want to correct? Give one wish for the music.

I don't know about mistakes but I do miss the days of buying albumns with pictures and art work to look at while you listen. I wish the Blues and Rock-n-Roll were back in the mainstream.


Which of historical blues personalities would you like to meet?

Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf.


What’s that moment like just before you go on stage?What’s your energy like?

I love the feeling of walking on stage it never gets old, even if I've had no sleep the music pumps me up.


What are some of the memorable gigs you've had?

Our tours with Buddy Guy.


What do you think is the main characteristic of you personality that made you a bluesman?

Probably just my Love for the music and that this is all I will do for the rest of my life.


From whom have you have learned the most secrets about blues music?

When I moved from Detroit to Indiana I met and played with Carl Weathersby he taught me alot.

Which is the most interesting period in your life and why?

Right now playing with my son Rocco Jr. in Head Honchos'.

Tell me about the beginning of the Head Honchos. How did you get together and where did it start?

When my son started to play guitar I put the band together to help him get experience. Then he went to school at G.I.T in California and studied with some great players when he came back we reformed with drum instructor Scott Schultz and replaced bassist C.C. Copeland with Roberto Agosto.


How did you choose the name “Head Honchos”?

When I was Growing up my Grandfather used to call himself the Head Honcho of the house.


How/where do you get inspiration for your songs?



What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?

LISTEN !! Do research to find out what influenced the people you like.


What advice would you give Rocco Calipari Jr. 

Listen carefully, do your best and have fun.


Do you think the younger generations are interested in the blues?

Yes there are always some out there.


When you get back home, what do you play besides the blues when you’re kicking back at home or just to have fun?

Depending on the mood I'm in: 50's Rock-n- Roll, Motown or some heavier stuff like Deep Purple, early Van Halen.


What does GUITAR mean to you?

Everything. It has been a Huge part of my life I play everday.


What were your favorite guitars back then?

Fender Strats and Tele's, Gibson 335's.


In which song can someone hear the best of your guitar work? Three words to describe your sound & your progress..

It's hard to pick a song but I've always liked the solo on the song Judge (The Big Score..HWB). Three words...,BIG, BLUESY & FORWARD.


Is there any similarity between the blues rock today and the blues of the fifties and sixties?

You can hear the influences in some of the playing but all of the recording equipment today takes away the

rawness of what they had.


What’s you poison? What turns you on?

My poison Jameson on the rocks. My Wife Jackie turns me on.

Head Honchos - Home

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