Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tito Mambo and the Messiahs of Soul





I love reading these posts on the Somers Point Clubs. I was the sax player for Tito Mambo & the Messiahs of Soul. We worked in the mid 60's at both Bayshores & the Dunes. As with the other posters here, I remember those times as some of the best. Great life for a young guy. Played every night/after hours/wknd afternoon sessions. Weight trained with bouncer Guy Borelli from Bayshores, Slept on the beach, ate lunch at the College Grill, & worked. Our band consisted of Tito/Vocals, BJ Stone/B3, Dick Sequino/Guitar, Paul Nunes/Drums, & Diz Lee & Saul Shocket/Tenor Saxes. This group was loaded with talent & it was an honor to work with them, especially Diz.

Saul Selitetrng If anyone out there remembers any of these names, please feel free to email me @ saulselitetrng@aol.com

While Tito Mambo was a little before my time, he was described as one of the most eccentric performers to ever play the Point by everyone who saw him.

The legendary Vince Rennich, former Bay Shores bartender, said that Tito Mambo was one of the first hippies and actually before his time, dressed with long hair and looked like Jesus Christ. He even did a Jesus Chris act by trying to walk on water once, and also was carried into the bar in a coffin and rose from the dead.

At the end of one summer he bought, at discount, one of the convertibles used to ride Miss Americas down the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

Kurt Loder recalled him and actually mentioned him in a story in Rolling Stone sometime in the late 70s or early 80s. Kurt told me how he got a phone call from Tito Mambo, who said he was in a motel in the desert somewhere in the Southwest.

I had also heard that he had done time for murder, and died after he got out of jail.

Maybe Saul can fill us in on what became of Tito Mambo after he left Bay Shores and Somers Point.

30 comments:

369f0860-d68b-11e0-9bc6-000bcdca4d7a said...

I worked with Tito in Boston in 1966. I was his B3 player. Never a dull moment with Tito. The band was called "Tito Mambo and the Voodoo Men". At one time he suggested to me that he wanted to call the band "Mambo's Muffins". Ron Santosucci

Ron Santosucci said...

I have been told that Tito died in Florida some years ago. As nutty as he was, I miss him, although Tito could be "set off" like a firecracker, I always got along with him, and saw myself as " the peacemaker" between him and the other band members. Ron Santosucci

jim said...

My dad Jay Turner played drums,and I my brother Jerry played with him before he passed,songs w/dad deep deep deep in the jungle,and wonder where Wanda went was about my aunt the chow hound

jim said...

men of chantz/

Linda said...

I saw Tito Mambo at the Venus De Milo when I was 16 in 1964. He did that skit with the guy in the coffin. If my memory is correct he and 'Do the Bird'.

sarah48michael@yahoo.com

c5ceb2e2-bdcb-11e1-b9c7-000bcdcb2996 said...

31I remember Tito Mambo at Bay Shores on the weekends before the season even started in 1965. We worked at the College Grill and were asked to come down on the weekends before Memorial Day. Seems to me Tito was playing that early in the season. You could hear the music way out in the parking lot and over the bay. Very crazy guy....;o> And what a way to start the summer.....

Martin Parmer said...

MY GOD I REMEMBER THE DAY TITO DRESSED AS JESUS HAD TOLD EVERY 1 HE WOULD WALK ON WATER THIS CEARTIN DAY . BEHIND BAYSHORES UN-BENONCED 2 MANY WAS A LONG WALKWAY , AT HIGH TIDE IT WAS COVERED BY WATER . SO TITO PROCEEDS 2 THE BACK BEHIND BAYSHORES DRESSED AS JESUS ON THE HIGH TIDE FOLLOWED BY A FEW 100 FANS WATCHING THIS EVENT , AND WALKS ON THIS WALKWAY COVERED BY WATER . HIS FANS WENT CRAZY !! SCREAMING AND CLAPPING 4 WHAT SEEMED LIKE HOURS BUT REALLY 5 OR 10 MINUTES . TITO WALKED 2 THE END AND BACK GIVING THE FASOD HE TRULY WAS WALKING ON WATER . MY BAND ALSO PLAYED ALL THOSE JERSEY SHORE CLUBS , BAYSHORES , THE DUNES TILL DAWN , TONY MARTS , GABLES , THE OLD TAVERN , MANY CLUBS IN AC .OH THE GOOD OLD DAYS !! JOHNNY CASWELL I WORKED OPPOSITE AT BAYSHORES . HE WAS THE HEADLINER THERE 4 MANY YEARS AS WAS RAY SHARP AND THE SOUL SET AND MANY OTHERS I PLAYED WITH .

Bob Brock said...

B4 you all came along about1958/9 Tito came from Waterloo Iowa with his band the Upsetters I believe they were called not sure? He left that group somewhere 1959/60 and took on a band called the Cyclones from Mass. booked by the Circle Artists Agency N.Y., a mutli faceted group consisting on Brian Souza on B3/Lead Guitar, Frank Perry on Bass,Guitar, Bob Brock... TenorSax/Lead Guitar and Paul Nunes Drums. The band traveled the road circuit doing club dates, amusement parks and the likes across the country. If you knew Tito then you know what I am saying he was a crazy ahead of our times pre Beatles and Hippies. With HIS long hair he did look like Jesus! He would use his hair to crash on the drummers cymbals in some of his antics, not much of a singer he did play keyboard and trumpet sometimes, but he did have a showman style that people came to see. For all I know I might be the last survivor of our band lost track over 40 years ago... If any of you have any info any of the guys I would be glad to hear...bob_brock@yahoo.com

Fairhaven Pete said...

This is crazy ! Just thought I'd look up this guys name on Google and here I am. Lived in the Fairhaven--New Bedford, MA area all my life and I remember this guy. It was around 1963-4, I can't remember, but I and four underaged girls (including myself) snuck in a place called the Piccadilly Lounge on Union street in New Bedford. I will never forget this guy, Long, long hair and a huge comb he had in his back pocket. These girls I was with went crazy. When we walked in the place, there was no door man or bouncer, it was just solid smoke, cigarette smoke, you could hardly see in front of you. We walked to the back where we found an empty booth and got some beers. We listened to this new kind of music, and watched this crazy guy perform. He was really ahead of his time.
I also worked at a place called Fairhaven Mills, in the paint and wallpaper department, my High School job, with a real nice woman who told me she was his mother. My God, 50 years ago. I wish I could remember her name. One of the gals that I was with, Mary, is still around, I got to tell her about this.
Something I'll never forget, "Tito Mambo at the Piccadilly Lounge" Pete Phillips

Billy Hancock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Billy Hancock said...

I worked with Tito Mambo as early as 1964. He fronted a club called Tito Safari in Newport, RI. Can’t remember all of the band member’s names. I played bass and did a small amount of vocals. Mike was on guitar, a fellow by the name of Mark on Hammond organ, Ronnie on tenor sax and I believe the drummers name was Ray. At that time he called the band Tito Mambo and The Disciples. Tito was a wild and crazy guy alright. One night I was on stage with him when he clubbed a sailor over the head with an electro voice microphone. He really opened up the top of the guys head. He used to line beer bottles on the wall of the rooming house where I stayed and blast them off of my dresser with his pistol. When he wanted to, he could be very entertaining. Does anybody out there know what actually happened to Tito? I lost track of him when I left the band. Billy Hancock

Ken said...

I remember Tito at the pic 1965 when he sang the novelty song "Malasadas." I've tried to find someone who remembers that song without luck thus far. Do any of you remember that song?

Ronald Santosucci said...

As mentioned in earlier posts, I worked with Tito in 1966 at the Echo Lounge in Brighton, as well as other places. I wish I knew what happened to his wife Margie. As I recall, she was from Concord, Ma.. I also would like to know where he is buried.

michael c Arruda said...

I would like to know more about tito. I believe he is a family member. I don't have a lot to go on, but maybe with enough info from you folks maybe we can piece together the whole story. thanks

John L. said...


James Fonseca was Tito Mambo:

DARTMOUTH ..•..
James R. "Fonsy"
Fonseca, 77, of
Dartmouth passed
away Sunday,
October 11,2015
after a long illness .
.Born a son of
the late Frank and
Jovita (Duarte)
Fonseca, he lived
most his life in the area and
briefly in California.
Fonsy was a well- known
local musician who played
with various bands such as
Tito Mambo, The Cyclones,
The Graduates and The Mickie
Lee Marshall Band. Fonsy was
lucky enough to open for acts
such as Barbara Mandrell and
r Tanya Tucker. He was also a
popular bus driver for the New
Bedford and Fairhaven area
schools as well as Tremblay's
Bus Company.
He is survived by his
children, Kristin
Fonseca of St.
Louis, Robin st.
Jean of Fairhaven,
Eric Reeves and
his wife Cathy of
Summerville, SC,
James O'leary,
Ronald Gauthier of
CA; a sister, Virginia
Lindahol of
Sylvia, NC; a brother, John
Fonseca and his wife Kathleen
of Fairhaven; step siblings,
Barbara Carreau and her
husband Roland, and Patricia,
Janet and Richard Moniz; an
aunt, Helen Wilson; several
grandchildren; numerous
great -grandchildren; and several
nieces and nephews.
His services are private and
in the care ofW ARING-SULLIVAN
atFAlRLAWN, 180
Washington St. ,Fairhaven,
MA. www.waring-sullivan.
com for online tribute.

Bob Hughes said...

R.I,P, Tito. Our bands used to play at some of the same places and I occasionally got to see you perform. Truly a wild entertainer.
Bob Hughes from Bob Hughes & the Galaxies.

John L. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John L. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John L. said...

To read Tito Mambo's Obituary copy & Paste the link below into a browser's URL.

http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=James-Fonseca&lc=4666&pid=176121361&mid=6634990&locale=en_US

michael c Arruda said...

the obituary says he played with tito mambo. but what about the real tito mambo? what ever happened to him? does anyone know for sure?

John L. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John L. said...

Look at the obituary picture & the pictures (above) in this post. James R. Fonseca was Tito Mombo. The 'nose' & ' eyes'gives him away. I believe the obit picture was taken when James/Tito was in his 50's. But you have many relatives, listed in his obit, whom you could contact to find out more about him.

michael c Arruda said...

thanks john l.
I'm doing research because tito, and I may be related. it's very hard finding info from so long ago. any help from anyone would be greatly appreciated.

michael c Arruda said...

the way it looks james fonseca couldn't be tito... tito's past is far to crazy to match up with jims past.someone somewhere has to have more info on tito.https://www.newspapers.com/clip/3749892// I did find this from Saugus ma july, 1966

Jules LaBonte said...

I saw Tito in Revere Beach MA. In the coffin routine, when he jumped out he sang "I couldn't Sleep At All Last Night"

michael c Arruda said...

Hi Pete, this woman you worked with said she was his mother? I thought he came from somewhere out west?

michael c Arruda said...

Sounds like you knew him well...I have some updated info on him.if you'd like to email me I could fill you in...marruda162@yahoo.com

michael c Arruda said...

Email me Bob. I have some info.

Saul Shocket said...

Mike A, Saul here. Just re-reading the Tito comments and remembered several things he told me in the mid 60's.
1) He came from Cuba
2) He did some time on a Fla chain-gang. Hope you find that useful.
3) Matt Howland was Tito's bodyguard
4) John Zell was his sax player
Matt H lives in RI
Zell lives in Ma. Maybe near you...Saul

michael c Arruda said...

Hello Saul, I have spoke with John zell. Really nice guy. I did hear about Florida,but they have no record of him.
I will try to find Matt...thanks for the info...