March 16, 1919 - June 12, 2017
Peter J. Arnone, a singer and instrumentalist who entertained in nightclubs and at special events for more than 70 years, died Monday in his Buffalo home. He was 98.
Born in Rochester, he grew up in Pittston, Pa., where he tap-danced and played harmonica for nickels and dimes as a boy. When he was 10, he was a Pennsylvania harmonica champion.
After an uncle gave him a mandolin, he taught himself to play it.
“He was a natural,” his son, Peter Jr., said. “He practiced and practiced and drove everyone crazy.”
An honor student in high school, he went to work as a coal miner after graduation and played music at night and on weekends, adopting the stage name of Peter Gramercy, taken from New York City’s Gramercy Park. When the coal mines closed, he moved to Buffalo’s West Side in 1942. He was a charter member of the Pittston Social Club here.
In Buffalo, he played with a small combo and was a strolling guitar player and singer in King Arthur’s, Snowball’s, the Royal Pheasant, the Continental Inn, the Buffalo Trap and Field Club, the Glen Casino and Salvatore’s Italian Gardens.
His signature tune: “The Girl on the Magazine Cover.”
He also performed annually at Buffalo’s Italian Festival and serenaded crowds strolling with his mandolin every Mother’s Day at Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant. He retired in 2013.
Mr. Arnone also was a steward with Laborers Local 210 from 1942 to 1980. He served as the union representative to the John W. Cowper Co. for 30 years on major downtown construction projects such as the main branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, One M&T Plaza and the Marine Midland Center, now One Seneca Tower.
Survivors include his wife of 76 years, the former Estelle Patyk; two sons, Peter Jr. and Richard; a daughter, Francine Ogilvie; a brother, Sam; 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in Lombardo Funeral Home, 885 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst.
Story topics: Italian Festival