Johanan Vigoda – Who knew?

Johanan_VigodaFirst of all I must apologize for this blog coming to an abrupt halt a few years ago; we here at Hi-Fi Central just became pre-occupied in our lives and finding time to write for the blog, well…ok, that’s a bunch of bullshit.  We just didn’t take the time to keep it going, myself included, so now that that’s been said, let’s get back into writing about all things related to music in some form or another, shall we?

Recently I was thinking back about being a kid growing up in the suburbs of Schenectady, New York and all the hippie type characters my parents would run into during the mid-1970’s.  One unique individual was this guy named Johanan Vigoda.  I don’t remember Johanan very well, but from what I do recall he was a very kind man, who was incredibly soft spoken and ate frozen peas from a satchel bag.  My father father always remembered the frozen peas when recalling his initial meeting with Johanan.  I only met  him once when I was about 7 or 8; my father was selling either a BMW RT75 or RT100, it was metallic cherry red, many fond memories of my father taking me out for night rides when I was young.

My father had put the motorcycle up for sale, but after a few weeks had taken the bike out of the listings since he didn’t have any bites of interest, and then one day at random this guy and woman come riding down the driveway on a motorcycle interested in the bike.  My father came down and chatted for a bit; somewhere during the conversation it was discovered that Johanan was an entertainment attorney living downstate; he didn’t really elaborate, nor did my parent pry.  It was just a cool feeling out process, and clearly my parents and Johanan felt comfortable with one another.  After a bit of chatting Johanan asked if he could take the bike out for a test ride to see if it was what he wanted, my father obliged and off Johanan went down the road.  A short while later, Johanan returned with what appeared to be some minor scratches and damage to the bike.  The fairing was cracked and the left mirror and turn signals were gone;  apparently due to some slick conditions on bridge up the road he dropped the bike but was luckily Johanan unhurt.

My mother recalls that Johanan was incredibly apologetic and offered my father to pay all expenses incurred from the damage, and that he would purchase the bike once repaired, just give him the bill.  The bike was fixed a week later and Johanan asked if my father could bring the bike down to his house in Woodstock, New York, my father was more than willing to deliver the bike no problem.  As Johanan promised he asked my father what the final damages were with the repair and the purchase of the motorcycle, and without hesitation or discussion paid my father what he asked.  That was the last time we saw Johanan Vigoda.

A few months later my mother was watching the Grammy’s and as they focused the camera down the aisle who was sitting there, Johanan!  My mother never forgot seeing him and recalling what a kind soul he was and clearly, not that she doubted what he said, was a legit music attorney.

It’s been years since I remembered that story and recently Google’d “Johanan Vigoda” just to see what I could find out about him.  Sadly the first thing I came across was an obituary from 2011, apparently he died after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer; although sad to see, there was some humor in his obituary since it mentioned that he was known for his “exotic diets” and eccentric behavior.

Johanan was responsible for negotiating The Beatles first record deal in the United States with Vee-Jay Records, and was Stevie Wonders lifelong attorney.  He apparently lived months at a time at the Continental Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, a hotel made famous by the antics of Led Zeppelin in the 1970’s.  I was amazed to discover this much about him, and just adds to the “cool factor” of crossing paths with him unbeknownst to parents and myself on who he really was in the music world.

5 Responses to “Johanan Vigoda – Who knew?”

  1. 1 Susan
    October 10, 2015 at 3:13 PM

    I met Vigoda when I was 21 years old, I was dating a friend of his, but deserved better 🙂 I hung out with Vigoda often over a period of about 4 years while he was at the Hyatt and eventually moved into an apartment on the beach. I remember driving the red corvette Stevie Wonder bought him. My friendship with him far outlived my romantic relationship with his friend. I remember he used to put stacks of cash in socks in his freezer, one day we went out to the Bevery Hills Diner for breakfast, his treat….he pulled $6 out of his sock and said ‘you can spend $3’ I just thought about those socks in the fridge 🙂 I was sad to see he passed, but man, he did live long. I was also glad to see that he married. I am appalled to see that Stevie Wonder is accusing him of ripping him off…..Vigoda would never have ripped Stevie off. My respect for Stevie just disappeared.

  2. 2 Robbie Long
    January 31, 2016 at 4:46 PM

    I knew Vigoda as a friend very very well for almost 30 years. It was not one bit in his heart to pull one over and cheat or deceive his client. Yes, he was eccentric in some ways—-but he was utterly virtuous and held himself to a high personal moral standard. He told me many times what their deal was. And there were a lot of very smart other people around Stevie that had to know what was going on. Vigoda watched Stevie’s back, got him great deals, and loved him like a son til the end. He was utterly loyal to Stevie and never would’ve screwed him to serve his own greed. Love’s in need of love, Stevie…….It’s heartbreaking for you (or those currently representing you) to so distastefully disparage
    Vigoda. You got to be better than that—money ain’t everything.

  3. 4 Joe S W Vigoda
    June 2, 2016 at 11:56 PM

    Hi, Johanan is my second cousin it turns out. I am currently building a family tree and curious to know if he left any progeny. Thanks.

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