Home / Author Archives: Ron Onesti

Author Archives: Ron Onesti

Ron Onesti is the CEO and president of Onesti Entertainment Corp. For the past three decades, he has produced Chicago's most popular Italian festivals, and also owns the historic Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Producing more than 200 live concerts each year, Ron has worked with some of music's most loved entertainers. Frankie Valli, Mickey Rooney, Connie Francis, and Jersey Boys, as well as stars Joan Rivers, Bret Michaels, and Don Rickles, have all graced the stage of the Arcada Theatre. He is a gourmet cook and journalist, writing a weekly column for the Daily Herald and hosting his own show on WGN. Ron lives in Wood Dale with his wife, Elena, and their daughter, Giuliana.

Community bids addio to George Randazzo

There are pillars in the community. Those individuals who stand for something. Those who truly make a difference in the lives of all whom they touch. George Randazzo, the founder and president of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, was one such person. We lost George on July 28. He was 77. George was born on Oct. 21, 1941, and grew up in the classic Chicago Avenue Italian neighborhood. An extremely proud U.S. Army veteran, he served 11 months in Vietnam. In 1977, he founded the Boxing Hall of Fame. He threw a grand inaugural gala, with every ...

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The power of pasta

With red sauce running through my veins and olive oil on my skin, I love as much as any Italian American. And through the years, as I grew my career in music, I brought backstage with me as much of the pasta-and-meatball experience as I could. What started with my grandmother in Chicago’s Little Italy on Taylor Street where I was born has turned into a part of my rock ’n’ roll business model. Sadly I never met my grandparents. My Nonna Sabina came over from Naples in 1911 to start a new life in America. She died two weeks ...

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A Cubs’ Tale

  Every Cubs fan has a story. Especially now. The Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees may have been dubbed “America’s Teams,” but the Chicago Cubs have long been the “little brothers” of the power baseball teams of each decade. The team’s overall performance always came in a distant second to the tradition of a neighborhood park with ivy-covered brick walls, personality-filled bleachers and hot-dogs, peanuts and beer cuisine. Heck, as the earliest active sports club in America (1870), it was 118 years before they even hosted a night game! With Cubs fans literally all over the world, and ...

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Chicago finally gets to Cleveland

  I can’t believe it! Rock super group Chicago finally made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! This is epic! For so many years, the fans have clamored for this moment, me among then, and justifiably so. According to Billboard, Chicago was the leading U.S. singles charting group during the 1970s. They have sold over 40 million units in the U.S., with 23 gold, 18 platinum and 8 multi-platinum albums. Over the course of their career they have had five No. 1 albums and 21 top-10 singles. The band is second only to The Beach Boys with ...

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The tour that changed music forever

  I just love going to Nashville. I mean, for the most part, it’s really like you would think it would be … almost a “Hee-Haw” parody of itself in some ways. The touristic sections are filled with cowboy hats and boots, Grand Ole Opry concert replica posters everywhere and scores of Garth Brooks wannabees walkin’ the streets with six-string guitars over their shoulders. But it surely does have its own magic, and if you keep an open mind, you don’t have to be particularly partial to country music to appreciate the historic nature and the sincere warmth of the ...

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Peterik a “Vehicle” for a generation

If you want to “fly under the radar” at an airport, I wouldn’t suggest you walk with rocker Jim Peterik. His signature look of bright purple hair, buckle-studded vinyl jacket and jeweled cowboy boots is an open invitation for folks to stare and approach. More often than not, he gets “You look like somebody … who are you?” But there are many more who know him from 50 years of performing, writing and recording in the music industry. We are sitting on a plane together as he and I were asked to co-host another PBS Television special, this time on ...

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My evening with the Queen of Italian cinema

Even though I was born in the early ’60s, I was brought up in a World War II household. My dad was an 18-year-old sergeant in the U.S. Army fighting Hitler’s brigade in Anzio, Rome and Southern France. My mom was born in Florence, Italy, and watched American tanks roll by her house on a daily basis. By the time I came along 21 later, the war stories at the kitchen table were shared regularly, often ending in an argument about Mussolini pre Hitler vs. Mussolini post Hitler. It was a complicated battle that my younger sister, brother and I ...

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Frank, Jr. really did it HIS way

Well, we lost another one. Frank Sinatra Jr. died of a massive heart attack on March 16, just before he was to go on stage for a performance in Florida. He was 72: 11 years younger than his father was when he passed away in 1998. I was fortunate to have worked with Jr. on many occasions over the years, most recently in November when he appeared at the Arcada Theatre to celebrate “A Century of Sinatra” in honor of what would have been his father’s 100th birthday. It was an incredible night, with Jr. showing rarely seen photos and ...

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Memories of Ol’ Blue Eyes

  Dec. 12, 1915, Hoboken, New Jersey … “Chairman of the Board” to be Francis Albert Sinatra, was born to Italian immigrants. The wiry, blue-eyed kid with a huge smile loved to sing, and at the tender age of 8 sang publically for the first time. His father, Antonio, a lightweight boxer and Hoboken Fire Department Captain, propped him up on the bar in a local saloon to entertain his fellow firemen and “The Voice” was born. Music was his passion, and school wasn’t. He barely made it to high school before he decided to pack up his blue eyes ...

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A spirited tour of the Arcada with Night Ranger

  Each week I produce shows with entertainers who are mainly from the eras of the ’60s through the ’80s. This covers MY era of music, with others that I was exposed to by the older kids in high school or the younger ones we were hanging out with. I get the privilege of doing shows with big names in classic rock, classic country, Motown and what is now called “Heritage” music, or the Oldies. But as I fulfill my musical fantasies, I have come to realize there is much more going on at The Arcada than meets the ear. ...

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