The Wheels of Life and My Sleeping Beauty

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No doubt there is a predictable madness about the days we live in, as there has always been, give or take a few notches up or down. There are forever things to lament about or regret. So, these days I’m inclined to focus my gaze on events that have been and remain meaningful in my life. Here is a short story that I have revised, contained in Stardust in the Sand.
In January of 1976, we moved from our dingy, dollhouse cottage in West Hollywood to a more respectable two-bedroom bungalow in Ventura County. It was a peaceful suburban neighborhood called Newbury Park. The driveways were painted with old Buicks and Chevrolets, with only the occasional foreign car scattered here and there. Every other house had a camper with Old Glory flying full mast on the antenna. Although it seemed as if we had moved a thousand miles east to Anytown, USA, we had, in fact, taken only a few steps north.
I remember being sized up by wary eyes from the outset of our move to Maplewood Drive. Neighborly hellos never rose above medium pitch. The smiles were pleasant, respectful, church-going smiles, but I could feel the prickly barbs of apprehension running up my arm with every handshake. However, I can’t say that I blame the neighbors very much. These were mostly older post-war folks, the ‘greatest generation’ some call them, with the sole desire to be left alone and live out the rest of their lives in relative peace and harmony—in other words, keep the volume down.
Sometimes when I glance at old photos, I can see how people like us could have been cause for concern for a neighborhood like this. Patricia and I did, in truth, fit the classic image of landlopers or carpetbaggers, or some kind of community agitators. (To some we were dead ringers for Buckingham and Nicks.) In time, although for different reasons, as folks realized that Patricia and I were just as insistent upon our own silence and privacy, the wariness faded—but just shy of any invitation to a backyard barbecue. The neighbors would never know how happy Tricia and I were, and how much we loved our humble, cookie-cutter castle—how much we appreciated our own little garden under the sun, far from the absurdity of the record business.
An inventory of our possessions was as follows: one king-size bed, an unfinished oak table and four unfinished chairs, one cat tree that came with two neurotic Himalayan kittens, a small Maytag fridge, a washer/dryer, a red Volkswagen (with 3 eventual burned clutches) and one brand new black satin Yamaha C7 piano I had just purchased at David Abel’s for $6,000. As far as I was concerned, the house was fully furnished.
At times I don’t know how Patricia coped with the constant hammering and singing for hours on end. I’d lose myself at the keys deep into the night and if I came up with something worthy, I’d stir her gently from a deep sleep and ask her to listen. She always did so without protest, leastways none visible to me. Once, I snapped a photo of my Sleeping Beauty just as I was about to play her a tune I later recorded on the ‘Brother to Brother’ album called, The Wheels of Life.

41 Comments on “The Wheels of Life and My Sleeping Beauty”

  1. Just a wonderful story my friend. I so love that song and I can really see now the wondrous inspiration behind such an anthem of love:) Keep shining Gino…I know you will

  2. What a wonderful story…and I can understand it to some degree even a little bit better than most as I had the rare privilege of being a great fan and then having the opportunity to work for Gino. I worked on the 1978-79 N. American tour and I took care of Gino along with Pasquale(who I believe was his cousin- hope I didn’t mess up the spelling or the association)in his dressing room as well as his personal security. I was blessed to get to know Ross and Joe and Gino’s parents, and I can remember having met Patricia, a very beautiful and sweet young lady. And it was wonderful to see you in New Orleans on your birthday. A day doesn’t go by that I am not listening to at least 2 different albums.(usually Gist of the Gemini and Pauper in Paradise)but certainly “Wheels of Life” is one of my favorite songs.
    Sometimes it’s hard to convey how much of an impact an Artists music can have on a persons life. It’s hard to describe how one persons music and thoughts and words can be so important to another person. For this I say thank you Gino Vannelli for all you have brought, and continue to bring to my life through your music.

    1. Beautiful tribute..thank you. And yes, certain phases of my life have ‘coloured’ by Gino Vannelli’s wonderful music. Truthfully, the first time I made love with my husband was to Gino’s wonderful music! Thank you Gino!

  3. Gino, as always, so wonderful to read your thoughts. And your mention of Buckingham/Nicks just floored me, as we are a tribute band to Fleetwood Mac, and duo to BN. You are still and always, the Master. Fly Into this Night, my friend. See you again, next time you come to Atlanta. ~With Love, Barbara Joy~

  4. Gino, You’re a good man. I saw you last year in Pittsburgh at the Byham Theatre. Great show! I’ve always enjoyed your music and been a fan since that first big hit in 1974, “People Gotta Move.” My wife, who has passed on from this life, was always a BIG fan. If she had ever met you I think I may have had a problem!
    Keep singing, my friend. You still can really BELT out a tune! What a voice! Thanks for the music.

  5. I CAN NOT BEGIN TO EXPRESS MY LOVE FOR YOUR CANTO CD!!!! It lifts me from the depths…I give it as gifts to those i love…u rock my world GINO!!!!!!

    1. My sentiments, exactly! Canto is a spiritual satisfaction.I just gave away another copy to a colleague during a business road trip.Gino, saw you in Louisiana a couple of years ago at the Joy Theater and will see you in Detroit next month. Magnifique!!!

  6. Gino, I have been a HUGE fan of yours since my ears first heard your talent while in high school in the 70’s !! There is NO way I could even come close to imagining how many hours I’ve enjoyed listening to your music; and LOVING every note and cord and your amazing voice !!! Finding you on facebook and getting to know you closer thru stories like the above; just enlarges the enjoyment of your musical creations!! Thanks for touching me so wonderfully with your music for my entire musically conscious life thus far (40+ years) ; and I hope an additional 40+ ; 🙂 !! Thanks for sharing this story!! Sam

  7. Your wife, Patricia, is lovely. Now I see from where the inspiration for your love ballads come. Hope you make it back to New Orleans soon. God Bless. Liz

  8. Gino, Coming from a small town in the Allegheny Mountains in North Western Penna.that censored the music on our only AM radio station you can only imagine my delight when we moved to Fredonia, NY located on Lake Erie when I could actually receive a Detroit radio station!! What a thrill to hear Motown, Rock’n roll & YOU! We also had New York City TV stations, so I actually saw you on “Soul Train”. After being a fan for 40 years, my Husband of 44 years & I were finally able to attend your concert in Cleveland this past December. My life is now complete! 🙂 What is the name of the song you were asked by the Pope to sing? It is a beautiful song. “Slow Love” is an apt description of the cycle of our marriage. “If I Should Lose This Love” concerns me so, as I don’t know what I’d ever do without my Soul Mate……… A request to do a concert in Erie, Pa………….. God Bless.

  9. Gino, Coming from a small town in the Allegheny Mountains in North Western Penna.that censored the music on our only AM radio station you can only imagine my delight when we moved to Fredonia, NY located on Lake Erie when I could actually receive a Detroit radio station!! What a thrill to hear Motown, Rock’n roll & YOU! We also had New York City TV stations, so I actually saw you on “Soul Train”. After being a fan for 40 years, my Husband of 44 years & I were finally able to attend your concert in Cleveland this past December. My life is now complete! 🙂 What is the name of the song you were asked by the Pope to sing? It is a beautiful song. “Slow Love” is an apt description of the cycle of our marriage. “If I Should Lose This Love” concerns me so, as I don’t know what I’d ever do without my Soul Mate……… A request to do a concert in Erie, Pa………….. God Bless.

  10. Please come out to Montana!!! Still love your music and voice after all these years. Was fortunate to see you live twice — back in the 1970s in Louisiana but you never perform close to me now. I would drive somewhere, reasonable, in the NW to see you once again.

  11. And what a beauty she is!
    Long ago transferred all of my music to Ipod so you go with me everywhere I go. Listen in the car everyday.
    I love your music and always will. I have inspired my children to appreciate you & my will leaves specific instructions for my children on how to preserve all of your albums, tapes, CD’s, posters & written material.
    Plan to see you in Detroit in the Fall.

  12. What a lovely story…”The Wheels of Life” is one of my all time favorites!
    I have that album (yes…album!). This story makes it even so much more special now. So glad that you are touring more and I am hoping that will continue for many years to come. Very impressed that you have maintained your vocal chops! Not all singers can do that. (Fans love that falsetto you bring out ocassionally!). You sound amazing and “a new generation needs to discover you, your talent and impressive versatility! Hoping your son can help make that happen with his generation and social media! Also love the musicians that you employ. The originals(still amazing)and the new talent touring with you. Keep posting your concert videos on youtube!
    Please consider booking a concert close to the Lexington, KY area. Louisville, KY…Cincinnati, Ohio, have fans that would love to see you perform live in these areas. God Bless.
    Lexington, KY

  13. I’ve always been a fan of someone gifted in illustrating a story with a written or spoken word. True, your music has touched my life in too many ways to list, but the ability to capture your feelings & memories so eloquently, and marry it to song….a true gift. I can do little more than say ‘thank you’ for revealing pieces of your life in such a beautiful way.
    A fan for life.

  14. Your girl is so beautiful – And if I had only one tomorrow – For some reason the lyric to your wonderful song sometimes makes me weep because it rings true — Hope life is good for you Gino and family – I will always hear your voice – ti amo

  15. Sorry, I gotta send another – I always wondered what inspired this wonderful song
    I always wondered who inspired this wonderful song lyric and music – it is so powerful I listen to the song quite often when my heart and soul allow me – you are like the only person I can type this stuff to that I feel I can be deep – when your first album came out my brother and his band mates called me and said get ur butt over here – you gotta hear this cat – he is really good and keyboards too – we just Sh#t ourselves learning from you and Joe and Ross – Where is my tee shirt? ti amo and happiness

  16. Dear Gino Kind Friend, (aka Gi-no, Gin-yes, Genius…my t-shirt from Atlanta),
    I may repeat myself later in this post, if so please forgive. You looked so confused when I mentioned my poetry in Philly May 9, that I gave you in Atlata on Oct 4, 2014 as I introduced C’ect Mi Bon Ami Ray Lebonville (he’s 5′ 4″ and we look like a crazy pair.
    Anyway the MAIN POEM was called, “Poem or Tricia.” and this is it (still wish I could erase1st impression):
    “Poem For Tricia”
    I love your smile
    I love your eyes
    I love the music
    of your guy
    At twelve years old
    He hung on my walls
    a young girl’s crush
    and that is all
    But I am a fan
    and it may surprise you who
    for dear, sweet Tricia
    I’m a fan of you
    Jill Maria Templeton
    September 20, 2014
    I know you were busy in Philly, but I wanted you to know that sweet, kindhearted, beautiful Julie lost her home in a tax sale on June 14,2015.
    I also mentioned it was my last show, unless MDs can help or you play Charlotte, NC again (I was 15 last time you were here and I’ll be 52 on 8/8.
    I couldn’t and didn’t even watch you perform in Philly, May 9th, it was too, too difficult. Keith saw me writing a letter to Ross. Gino my L spine is COMPLETELY shot. No munisicus at all in L1-L5 and that’s all we have. All disks are bulging and now two are pinching nerves which makes it nearly impossible to stand, wallk and even lie down to sleep. I have to sleep sitting up, when I can sleep. I’m on Fentnyl (100X’s stronger than Morphine,as well as Norco and I take 2 diff pills to stop the pain induced nausea, that are normally reserved for Cancer patients (meaning pills are usually taken by Cancer patients.
    I did quit smokin Jan 6, 2014. I wish I’d done so much sooner. I’ve had to paint my house with KILZ brand paint (to rid the smell) as well as buy new carpet (never have I felt a SOFT Burber, but I have NOW. I replaced all the plantation blinds and so on. Just because I quit in Jan 2014, didn’t make it a New Year’s Resolution, I was tired of the smell and the COST and having to outside to smoke.
    I mentioned to you about the poems I included in a manilla envelope that I gave you Oct.4,2014, in Atlanta. You seemed perplexed like you hadn’t gotten them. Please ask Ross to give you the poems (or Keith) Or you can ask Ross for my email address and I’ll end them to you. I simply want your true critique. The first one I showed you was called, “Poem For Tricia.”
    Also I have found a Grammy Winner to produce my “Christmas song.” I wrote it in 1992 music and lyrics. It is the first time I have ever written the music too (Lyrics are a breeze. I try to write without rhyming, but it’s a gift, when I am inspired, that I CANNOT cut off.
    All my friends and J-STYLZ of BLACKstreet, like MY voice and how I can do 2 part harmony with myself. My song was written with KT Oslin in mind. She was the first and as far as I know STILL THE ONLY WOMAN to win “Song Writer of the Year,” at both ACMs and CMAs. I can bet 99.999999% she still won’t leave retirement to sing it, but got fingers crossed. I love her sexy, sassy, sultry style. And I know her great friend in Nashville, who only handles George, “No-Show, The Possum,” Jones.
    I am however true friends with Vince Gill and Trisha Yearwood (and since it’s 2 part harmony, it doesn’t suck at all who they both are married to).

    1. Jill died. Years of drugs and alcohol, hence the bad back from crashing while drunk driving.

  17. Dear Jill Templeton – I just love your poem – it is beautiful – I have 2 girlfriends dealing with challenges in their life also – I sure hope you feel better everyday and I will think of you with my gals too!! I know you don’t know me and it’s always amazing that Gino brings people together and I wanna send you a BIG HUG – Lots of BIG HUGS I just saw the smallest Praying Mantis on my back screen – I gathered her up on a tissue and she and I walked back to the fence row to make her safe – I hope I see her again Love to Gino and Patricia – she is so beeeeutiful

  18. I have always listened to your music since the 70’s. I saw you last year in Dallas at the Eismann Theatre. I was so moved to see you again. My mother was such a fan of yours so now when I play “Wheels of Life” I think about her and cry also. When I saw you in Dallas I was there on behalf of her because I know she was watching down from heaven to see you sing. I so look forward to seeing you again in Dallas and I hope it is real soon. Love to you and your family forever and ever.
    Hugs and kisses from Texas
    Mary Tidwell

  19. I loved the song “The Wheels of Life” so much that when I got married in 1981 that was the song we chose to dance to at the reception, the first song as husband & wife. Just beautiful memories whenever I play the song.

  20. Hello Mr. G.V. Sweet little story. I always enjoy your thoughts and comments. And I thought I was the only one who remembered Buckinghm Nicks! Frozen Love still one of my favorites. I’m sure Mrs. Tricia ‘coped’ with your endless music making like we all do- with a soulful smile. So pleasant to the ear and heart you are. I too have a cat- kittens is his name, we tried formaly naming him, but just kept saying “the kitten” so now, we love our big, fierce looking tom-cat named Kittens. Mrs. Tricia seems to be a beautiful lady, gentle and warm. She is such an inspiration causing your wonderful tunes. Love to hear more about Anton.
    Looking so forward to Friday, Nov. 13th to your show in Austin.(yikes!, don’t break a leg! shall I say). Please, could you maybe play Valleys of Valhalla? As this was how I came to know you. Do what you do baby! You keep me rockin’.
    Love to you and yours G.
    -Jessica J. 🙂

  21. I was just going to the website to check out whats new and read this amazing tribute to your wife. She inspired your Wheels Of Life.

  22. When I lived in Minneapolis one of my neighbors was a former member of Prince’s band The Revolution. I was always a bit amazed how effortlessly he went back and forth between “rockstar” (playing to stadiums full of fans) and “surburbanite” (clearing his driveway with the snowblower).
    A childhood friend tours as Pharrell’s guitar player now. He alternates traveling on private jets to places like London and Dubai with cleaning up baby spit up and mowing his lawn.
    We’re all human beings. And most of us want to live a quiet, private life. There’s at least one Grammy winner in my current southern California subdivision, and he too is just an ordinary guy.
    I am sure the neighbors did not mind your piano playing. There are a lot of crappy garage bands out there. If a good musician such as yourself moved in next door and played piano I would not complain – it might even drown out my crappy piano playing…. 🙂

  23. Thx for sharing this story Gino, hope you guys are planning to perform in Italy soon, love Francesca and Beppe

  24. Gino, I have all your music except your 1st album which I hope someday they will release as a remastered cd. I’ve watched your interviews and older u-tube videos
    and brings back a lot of memories. Your music is very powerful and sends a good message. Always keep Christ in your life because there is no other answer. Blessings BT

  25. My question to Google was “did Gino write Wheels of Life before or after marrying his wife Patricia?” I was correct. He wrote it after. Makes sense to me. They are the perfect couple in every way. I am so happy they are still together. Two peas in a pod.

  26. Dear Gino and Band,
    Thank you for taking such wonderful care of yourself and your wonderful voice Gino and music.
    Super sound and performance last night at The Iridium, NYC October 16, NYC.
    I hope you and your marvelous band have a golden tour.
    I really enjoyed the music, the memories and the performance. So did the audience!
    Many blessings and years ahead performing,
    Judy Palaferro

  27. hey buddy just listened to one of your songs on stingray and did a little serch and found your story about your wife and you in the beginning, brother you have been blessed ,thank you for sharing that beautiful story and your feel good music, peace and love man

  28. I’ve been a fan since 1974 when I first heard People Gotta Move. I saw you in concert in Mobile, Alabama when I was in the military – you were promoting Pauper in Paradise, and again in Buffalo, NY after Brother to Brother came out. One more time at the Tralf Cafe. These concerts were always as good as the albums.
    Whenever a new album would come out, it was always a special celebration for my girlfriend (later my wife) and I: we’d go to dinner, and then pop a bottle of wine at my apartment and listen to it for the first time. It’s still a thrill for us after all these years to hear your new music when it comes out.
    When we married, Wheels of Life was our first dance as husband and wife. It was our favorite song. It still is.
    So glad to see you are doing well, but so sorry to hear about your mom. I have no doubt how proud she was of you and your brothers. Take care, thank you for the wonderful music and associated memories. May God bless you and your family.

  29. Dear Gino and Family,
    I have loved your music my whole life. Your voice is an amazing gift and thank you for sharing it. I was sorry to read the story about losing your Mom. That’s a tough one…I know. These days are the strangest ever and I think everyone is feeling pretty numb. I hope you and your family continue to make beautiful music. I pray we will one day live life like we did in the before times.
    Until then,
    Kat East
    Appaloosa was my particular favorite

  30. Gino I’ve always loved your music since the 1970’s. I just recently rediscovered you. Can’t hear “living inside myself” enough. It’s my story exactly. Wished I could go to one of your concerts. You and I are the same age!

  31. Gino, it is with tears in my eyes, that 😢 I shall your loss of your soul mate ♥️. Since you and Joe started on your career, l realized what a Powerhouse you would become.I was so proud of you, back when you saw Herb Albert outside the studio, and ran towards him with your demo. For you and Joe,the rest is History! Again I mourn the loss of a great wife, best friend, and mother.

  32. I have always loved Gino Vannelli. To meet him has been a life time dream of mine. He is and always will be my favorite ldol.

  33. Hello Gino, I stumbled upon your blog after I downloaded some of your music to my phone. I have a couple of your cassette tapes but alas nothing to play them on anymore (I’m giving away my age, aren’t I)
    So now I can listen to you while I’m driving. I’ve been a fan of yours since the 70’s and 80’s. My late husband and I both loved your music. Thank you for sharing it with the whole world. Wishing you many blessings.

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