SALAMONE, FRANK Frank Salamone aged 64 of Grand Rapids. It is with deepest sorrow that we acknowledge the passing of Frank Casey Salamone following a twenty-year battle with Multiple Sclerosis. He died peacefully at home on Sunday, April 29, 2012, while being cared for by his longtime partner, Francelle “Fran” Huber. He was preceded in death by his parents, Casey and Sadie Salamone, brother Marco, and beloved grandmother Giuseppa “Josephine” Lima. Frank dedicated his life to music and was a well-known performer in Grand Rapids and the Midwest from the late 1960’s to the 1980’s. He was a master of finger-style acoustic country blues guitar, playing solo and as part of the band Suitcase with his longtime friend, Jimmie Stagger. Although incapacitated by his illness, he remained active in music. He was a devoted collector and listener of acoustic music and helped produce three CDs of his music from archived material. Frank is survived by his sister Delores “Nina” Henry; sister-in-law, Alice Salamone; several nieces and nephews, and his partner and number one fan Fran Huber, whose selfless and enduring care enhanced his quality of life immeasurably over the many years of his illness. Friends and family will gather to celebrate Frank’s life on Monday, May 7 from 7-9 PM at the Ronan-Vanderpool-Stegenga Funeral Chapel, 3131 S. Division Ave. Donations to Heartland Hospice of Grand Rapids in Frank’s memory would be welcomed.
Frank Casey Salamone June 30, 1947 – April 29, 2012
Frank Casey Salamone passed away April 29, 2012 from complications of Multiple Sclerosis, only a few days after the release of his third CD titled “Suitcase – Live in ’76 at Battle Ground”.
Frank was a fingerstyle and vocal legend among those who heard him perform live in the ’70s and ’80s in and around West Michigan. In the best sense of the word, he was a student of the fingerstyle guitar and blues tradition, drawing on influences ranging from Mose Allison, Charlie Patton, Ry Cooder, Bert Jansch, Merle Travis and Blind Blake.
He shared the stage in West Michigan with Leo Kottke, Bukka White and John Mayall. Besides performing for years as a solo artist, he was also one-half of the famed duo “Suitcase”, with Jimmie Stagger on vocals, guitar, bottleneck guitar, mandolin, and fiddle. For sheer originality and vocal and instrumental prowess, Frank and Jim will long be remembered for their contribution to the scene in West Michigan.
I first met Frank around 1974 while he was co-owner of Flaming Rat Records, a Grand Rapids record store. Unique in West Michigan, the Rat focused on music that you had no chance of finding anywhere else this side of the hippest college town or big city (Grand Rapids being neither). This was the kind of store where, once they got to know you, the new Bert Jansch record would automatically be there waiting behind the counter when you walked in. I owe Frank a debt of gratitude for a large part of my musical education, through the store and as an informal guitar teacher (“informal” as in “no recompense except for a few Bass Ales”.)
In 1987, Frank was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome, a nerve disorder which robbed him of the use of his left arm, effectively ending any possibility of playing guitar. Other symptoms gradually appeared, eventually leading to a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.
Since 2001, his close friends and family have helped him release three CDs. The first two are compilations; the last is Frank and Jimmie Stagger’s live 1976 recording, released only four days before Frank’s passing. We are grateful that Frank lived long enough to see this final recording come to fruition, and grateful to all those who played a part.
J. Leitch, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Suitcase – Frank Salamone and Jimmie Stagger:
“Live in ’76 at Battle Ground”
Sitting Duck SD2003; release date April 26, 2012
“Rhymes With Alimony”; CD only
Sitting Duck SD2002; released 2004
“I Remember Me; Live Recordings 1972-1987”; CD only
Sitting Duck SD2001; released 2001
go to CDs page
Frank Salamone & the Shadowcasters:
“Frank Salamone and the Shadowcasters”; cassette only
Living Daylights Music LDM4321; released 1988 (cassette; availability: a few copies are left; contact Frank to purchase)
Suitcase (Frank Salamone & Jim Steigmeyer a.k.a. Jimmie Stagger):
“Long Gone… Got Away Lucky”; vinyl only
Special Rider S-1234; released 1977 (LP; availablilty: a few copies are left; contact Frank to purchase)
“Roustabout; The Fourth Annual Battle Ground Fiddler’s Gathering – 1976”
Log Cabin 8005; released 1977 (LP; availability: *** OUT OF PRINT *** RARE ***)
This LP features various artists on-stage, with three tracks by Frank and Jim (photo of Frank on the cover), recorded live by NPR for member station WBAA
Concert poster Frank Salamone and Jimmy Steigmeyer AKA Jimmy Stagger with Bukka White 2.4.73 ( courtesy GVSU digital collections)