Slain guitarist Danny DeGennaro was on the brink of a comeback

Earlier this week, a guitar player was fatally shot in his home in Levittown, Pa.

Danny DeGennaro was a longtime presence on the local rock scene. He also accompanied national acts — such as saxophonist Clarence Clemons and the Grateful Dead spin-off band Kingfish — as a player for hire.

The Bucks County District Attorney’s office says DeGennaro’s death was a homicide. The 56-year-old musician died of a shotgun wound to the chest, and the investigation into the circumstances is continuing.

DeGennaro had his first regional break in the late 1970s as the frontman for Danny D. and the Torpedoes, which included John Kuzma, Bobby Woods, David Uosikkinen, and Dan DeSouza. In the last 13 months, three of the five members have died.

“Danny was a performer. If anything, people would come to see him because of his personality,” said Uosikkinen, the surviving member who also was a founding member of the more popular band, The Hooters. “And warm — just a good guy. Being in a band with him really was the epitome of family. It was great. Really great.”

DeGennaro, also called Danny Rio (as in, Rio de Janeiro) spent the last 10 years lying low, caring for his ailing mother, not playing much. But in the last year, he started playing out again with longtime friend, guitarist TJ Tindall.

“He did a lot of solo acoustic things at different clubs, trying to make some money. There wasn’t any real effort. I think he was hoping something would come back, and it was starting to come back together,” said Tindall. “This is the real tragedy of it all, it was just starting to happen again, and, bang, just like that. A real shocker.”

In early 2011, many local musicians performed at a benefit concert in Levittown for DeGennaro, who had fallen into debt. Since then he had been playing regularly in local clubs.

Correction: An earlier version of this story omitted from the list of Torpedoes band mates Dan DeSouza, who is living in Los Angeles. The band comprised five musicians: Danny DeGennaro (guitar/vocal), John Kuzma (guitar/vocal), Dave Usoikkinen (drums), Bob Woods (bass), and Dan DeSouza (keyboards). We regret the error.

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