Take one step inside Joe Fuoco’s Music Center, on 66-20 Myrtle Avenue. in Glendale, and music history seems to jump out from the walls.
Lined above the humble entrance seating area to this historic music center are letters from friends, former students and pieces of Joe and Jeanette Fuoco’s personal music journey on full display. If not already overwhelmed by the awe of a guitar wall featuring some classic and rare pieces, a deeper look at the space serves as a testament to the couple’s achievements as both music teachers and longtime contributing members of the community.
When QNS asked Joe Fuoco if he felt like 50 years had passed since he first opened the music center in 1973, his response was no surprise to those who have encountered him in a lesson, a local street fair or charity concert.
“If I can live another 50, I’d do it for another 50,” Joe said.
For the 68-year-old guitarist and music teacher, who started studying under the jazz legend Billy Bauer at 16 years old and started learning how to play the accordion when he was only 4 years old, Fuoco doesn’t plan to stop teaching music anytime soon.
“If I make it to November, I’ll be 69, but I’m jumping around up there like I’m about 30. So to me, it doesn’t feel that much different,” Joe said. “I’m still doing what I always did. I think if you do something that you love to do, it seems to bypass time in a way.”
Joe and Jeanette plan to celebrate Joe Fuoco’s Music Center’s 50th anniversary with a celebration concert at the United Methodist Church of Glendale, located at 66-14 Central Ave., on Saturday, June 10.
The concert will feature a series of live performances from Fuoco with students both old and new, spanning all age groups. Throughout the evening, Joe and Jeanette will play iconic songs from artists like The Beatles and Elvis, while inviting students to play with them on stage.
Joe also said a bit of 70’s disco music and some country hit songs will be added to the spectrum of played songs. The celebration lasts from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and according to Fuoco, tickets are almost sold out.
A staple in the Glendale community, Joe Fuoco’s Music Center actually began at its first store location, on 71st Avenue and 60th Lane, in Ridgewood, Joe shared. The storefront was opened thanks to his mother and father, Joe Sr. and Marge Fuoco, who invested in their son’s musical talents at an early age.
After about three years at their first location, the store moved to Cooper Avenue and 61st Street, in Liberty Park. In 1982, Fuoco’s moved to the well-known Glendale location and has stayed in the neighborhood ever since — selling instruments, recording musicians, and hosting thousands of students over the years taught by Joe and Jeanette.
“My wife, Jeanette, is a great teacher and, in fact, next year we’ll be together 50 years,” Joe added. “We met in high school in ’74 when we started playing together and we stayed ever since. She’s great with the students and the kids. They love her and I couldn’t have done it without her.”
The influence of those in Joe’s life, including his parents, uncle, and notable artists he’s met over the years, standing toe-to-toe with music stars like Billy Joel and Paul McCartney, kept the community close to heart.
Similarly to the Marge Fuoco Memorial Concert, held at the center’s 40th-anniversary celebration in 2013, where the proceeds made were donated to the St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital for children with cancer, Joe consistently raises funds to help others and performs for free when it comes to community events like street fairs.
Joe’s knowledge as a musician and longtime community leader spans generations and with as many students he’s educated at the center, his advice to fellow students artisans comes from advanced personal experience.
“I always say to the younger students, try to pursue your dreams young. The trick is to do something you love, but you’ve got to stick with it. The trick is sticking with it,” Joe said. “There are times things don’t always go the way you want them to go, but you just have to hack through it. You gotta suck it up and hack through it. It’s persistence really. It’s passion and persistence.”