The never-before-told story of The Peppermint Lounge, the famed Manhattan nightspot and mobster hangout that launched an era
The Peppermint Lounge was intended to be nothing more than a front for gambling and other rackets but the club became a sensation after Dick "Cami" Camillucci began to feature a new kind of music, rock and roll. The mobsters running the place found themselves juggling rebellious youths alongside celebrities like Greta Garbo and Shirley MacLaine. When The Beatles visited the club, Cami's uncle-in-law had to restrain a hitman who was after Ringo because his girlfriend was so infatuated with the drummer.
Working with Dick Cami himself, Johnson and Selvin unveil this engrossing story of the go-go sixties and the club that inspired the classic hits "Twisting the Night Away" and "The Peppermint Twist.
About the Author
Joel Selvin is is coauthor of the #1 "New York Times" bestseller "Red" and author of the award-winning "Ricky Nelson" and "Summer of Love".
About the Authors J.C. Snead Professional Golfer J. C. Snead is one of the top touring pros. He has won eight major tournaments including the Australian Open and the 1987 Westchester Classic and an unbelievable double victory of two Andy Williams ' Opens in a row. He has also won four tournaments on the Champions Tour. He is twenty third among the all time top money winners of golf, having earned nearly two million dollars on the pro circuit. His accomplishments are all the more remarkable since he did not start playing golf until he was twenty two years old after playing both football and professional baseball. In addition to being one of the top putters in the game, he drives the ball long and scores so well that in 1982 he led the tour in the number of eagles. He has also been a member of three Ryder Cup teams . More impressive, is the fact that J. C. is considered a great teacher by his peers. Sam Snead, Professional Golfer Sam Snead is a member of the Golf Hall of Fame having won the PGA and Masters championships three times each. At the time of publication he had won more championships than any other golfer--82. Sadly, Sam died at ninety years of age while helping us write this book. The other authors decided to dedicate the book to him. It is our good fortune that he wrote the Foreword as part of his contribution to the text. Throughout the book he added many tips that he believed would help you. John L. Johnson Golf Coach California State University Dominguez Hills Dr. John Johnson is a long time golf coach. In fact, he is the dean of college golf coaches. He started the intercollegiate golf team when he was athletic director at California State University Dominguez Hills in 1968. Prior to that time he coached football at UCLA and held the positions of both assistant and head golf coach at UCLA. He is noted for having conducted many scientific studies that prove the importance of strength and flexibility exercises in increasing power in the golf swing. His California State University Dominguez Hills golf teams have been consistently nationally ranked.
Raised in a musical family in the Bronx, DICK CAMI married the daughter of Mafia kingpin Johnny Biello, owner of the famed Peppermint Lounge. Cami later was an acclaimed restaurateur in South Florida, where he entertained high-ranking mafiosi, FBI agents, athletes and show business celebrities.
“This lively account, which draws heavily on the memories of Camillucci himself, tells the kind of tale that seems tailor-made for a big-screen adaptation—it’s the sort of thing Martin Scorsese would knock out of the park—with larger-than-life characters and a story that is almost too good to be true: how rock ’n’ roll and a racy new dance craze turned a Mob hangout into a mecca for the world’s most sparkly glitterati.”
“A lively and colorful new history”
—New York Post
"The Sopranos meets American Bandstand! I love it. The Peppermint Lounge is where it all started for me and the Ronettes.”
“If you asked me to draw up a list of the American writers I'd pick to go long in a story about the mob, music and the all-star cast that made the Peppermint Lounge an iconic landmark, I'd put John Johnson at the top. This guy could write about a fallen leaf, weave a riveting story and make it sing.”
—Steve Lopez, author of The Soloist
“True crime meets pop-music history in this history of the Peppermint Lounge, the Twist and the Mafia’s unwitting role in starting a national craze.
In 1960, Dick Cami’s father-in-law, Johnny Biello, a high-ranking Mafioso, bought an off-Broadway dive as a favor to a friend, and Cami suggested having rock ’n’ roll music in the place. Within months, the Peppermint Lounge became the hottest club in the country, as New Jersey teens mixed with such celebrities as Norman Mailer, Ava Gardner and even the Beatles—all doing the Twist. “The Twist hit like an atomic bomb and the Peppermint Lounge was ground zero,” write veteran journalists Johnson (co-author: Blood Brothers: The Inside Story of the Menendez Murders, 1994) and Selvin (Summer of Love: The Inside Story of LSD, Rock & Roll, Free Love and High Times in the Wild, 1994, etc.). All of this surprised Biello, who saw the place as a nice front for his loan-sharking and gambling rackets. However, not one to pass up a buck, he let Cami make the place legit and even opened a second lounge in Florida. The authors go back and forth between telling the stories of Biello’s rise in the Mafia and his constant attempts to get out and the rise of the Twist. Biello’s tale is one of Mafia intrigue and Runyonesque figures such as his younger brother Scatsy, while the tale of the Twist is one of the early rise of youth culture, which would soon become a revolution. It’s also the story of a young singer named Chubby Checker, who, once spotted by pop-music king Dick Clark, made a career out of the song “The Twist” (originally recorded by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters), and how every singer from Sam Cooke to Frank Sinatra made a Twist record. The two stories shouldn’t fit, but they do.
A fun and fascinating read.”