A father's Christmas gift to his two determined little sons fueled a lifelong affair with music and a way of life for Wellsville natives Dominic and Tony Sgro.
After Frank Sgro gave his sons, just 6 and 4, harmonicas for Christmas, the brothers were further inspired by the Borrah Minevitch Harmonica Rascals of movie fame and became masters of the instrument. From local performances in the 1950s to winning regional talent contests, the Sgro Brothers were booked by agents in the Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Akron areas. They worked with such stars as Tony Bennett and the Four Freshmen, to name but a few.
A pivotal moment for the Sgro Brothers came in 1951 when they met and auditioned for "Little Johnny Puleo," star of the Borrah Minevitch Harmonica Rascals. A contract was offered but Tony, a high school sophomore, declined so that he could graduate.
Later, the brothers joined the Marine Air Reserve and then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. The brothers were made part of the Marines' Special Services and performed in the Marine Corps Band. The USMC sponsored the Sgro Brothers in a 52-week nationwide radio show, where they were known as "The Marine Corps Own Harmaniacs." They appeared on shows such as the Herb Shriner Quiz Show, Arthur Godfrey Talent Show and the Easter Parade of Stars. Their career highlight came in an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Upon discharge in 1955, the brothers went to New York to record for RCA Victor. They then were offered a contract with the renamed Johnny Puleo's Harmonica Gang. As part of the "Gang," they played the Tropicana in Havana, Cuba, and in Las Vegas, the Moulin Rouge in Hollywood with Dean Martin, the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Hollywood with Frank Sinatra and the London Palladium, where they did a command performance for the Queen of England.
The Sgro Brothers left the group to settle with their families (they had married sisters, Lucy and Angela DiNardo of New York) in Elmira, N.Y. They purchased a restaurant/night club, where they performed every Friday and Saturday evening. During that time, they were invited to perform on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and on Ralph Emery's "Nashville Now Prime Time TV Show" - the first harmonica players to do so. In addition to appearing on several cruise ship lines, the Sgro Brothers also performed at the White House for President George W. Bush in June 2004.
Tony's wife, Lucy, died in 1988. On Jan. 19, 2002, he married Dorothy Demyan.
Dom and his wife, Angela, have three daughters, Mary Angela, Madonna and Martha Anne, and 11 grandchildren.