Joseph Louis RomanoDecember 1, 1949 ~ August 4, 2017 (age 67)
Joe Romano, beloved Houston musician and teacher, died Friday, August 4th, 2017, after a long battle with cancer. He was preceded in death by his parents, Anthony John Romano and Anna Macaione Romano, paternal aunt, Josephine Romano, brother, Anthony "Buck" Romano, and nephew, Steven Romano. He is survived by his wife and creative partner of more than thirty years, Susan Elliott, brothers Albert Romano, Gerald Romano and wife Patricia, James Romano and wife Sylvia, and Roger "Rock" Romano, sister Rose Ann Haude and husband Carl, mother-in-law, Nita Elliott and husband Dick DePugh, father-in-law, Randall Elliott and wife Faye, sisters-in-law Antoinette Romano and Deborah Elliott, fourteen nieces and nephews, sixteen grandnieces and grandnephews, two great-grandnieces, many cousins, and countless friends, colleagues, and fans.
Joe was born at Saint Joseph's Infirmary in Houston, Texas, on December 1, 1949. He grew up on the near north side and attended Holy Name School, St. Thomas High School, and the University of St. Thomas, earning a BA in English Literature. He learned to play guitar from his brother, Rock, and began his musical career at age fourteen, singing and playing guitar as the frontman for the Glow Coats. He was later the bassist for The Fun and Games Commission, playing alongside his brother, and for a time with Ray Rogers and the Bojangles, performing at the popular nightclub of the same name. In college he became interested in acting, and won roles in several productions at UST, Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, and Uncle Gaev in The Cherry Orchard, prized among them. Shortly after finishing college, he became the music director for the Texas Theatre Foundation, writing three original musicals for children, and was later a contributing songwriter for Sesame Street and the Children's Television Workshop, which published and produced seventeen of his compositions in the late 70's and early 80's. About that same time, he began performing his original music as a solo guitarist and singer, and in 1984, teamed with vocalist Susan Elliott, who would later become his wife, to form the jazz vocal duo, Mood Indigo, a favorite among Houston audiences for more than three decades. For almost as long, the two delighted kids of all ages, performing their original songs for children as The Non-Toxic Band.
Joe was an artist's artist, a musician, composer, writer, actor, and poet, ever curious about his craft, and always dedicated to excellence. For the last fifteen years of his career, he was also a music teacher, giving private lessons at Writers In The Round and Rockin Robin, and working with at-risk children in Houston's First, Second, and Fifth Wards, at Small Steps Nurturing Center. He had soulful brown eyes and a smile that lit up the room. He was a first-rate bicycle mechanic, and made a killer margarita. He was generous with his friends, compassionate and encouraging with his students, and kind to everyone he met. He departed this world too soon, but his unique musical voice, beautiful songs, and sweet spirit will remain, and continue to inspire all those lucky enough to have known him.
There will be a private Memorial Mass for the family later this week. A public celebration of his life is planned for early fall, the details of which will be posted here shortly.