He’s been nominated for a Grammy and an Oscar, and he won a Golden Globe for his acting. His name is Stallone.
No, not the guy from “Rocky,” “Rambo” and “The Expendables.” Rather, his brother, Frank Stallone. Mr. Stallone scored the Golden Globe for his gritty appearance opposite Mickey Rourke in “Barfly,” and the Oscar and Grammy noms came for his worldwide smash hit song, “Far From Over,” from the film “Staying Alive” — the “Saturday Night Fever” sequel directed by his more famous brother.
Mr. Stallone has several gold albums to his name and has acted in over 70 films. Not bad for a guy some refer to merely as “Sly’s Brother.” At the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants), Mr. Stallone discussed all things rock ‘n’ roll and his take on the Trump presidency.
Question: I hear you have a special connection to Washington.
Answer: Yeah, it’s my hometown. My mother was born there. My father came over from Italy and settled in D.C. I grew up in Silver Springs.
Q: What brings you to the NAMM convention?
A: It’s the one time of the year you get to bump into a lot of fellow musicians. People you haven’t seen in a long time. And it’s great. Lots of photos I can post on social media.
Being here it’s nice to see all the gear. Not that I buy anything. I just use the stuff I’ve had forever.
Q: Are you active on social media?
A: I’m on social media a lot. It kind of revises or revives your career. Because of social media I get pictures and autographs from all over the place. If that wasn’t around, people would wonder, “What’s Frank Stallone up to?” Now they can just got to YouTube and see a million things. It’s quite a bit of fun.
Q: In your collection, what is your favorite guitar?
A: If you go on YouTube, you can see the video of me at Norman’s Rare Guitars. For Christmas my brother, out of nowhere, surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it. He said, “Get whatever you want.” I got a 1940 Epiphone Emperor that belonged to the Sons of the Pioneers. It’s in perfect condition. That’s my most prized.
But mostly I use Les Paul guitars onstage. Very simple. Les Paul with a VOX AC 15 or deluxe reverb. And the Martin (acoustic guitars) I have had forever. Hard to get me to cut loose from my Martin guitars.
Q: Do you only play American-made instruments?
A: I don’t really play overseas stuff. I’m a bit of a dinosaur in that way. You gonna improve on a Les Paul or Fender Stratocaster? Those are perfect designs, and there is nothing to add really.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: There are a few things in the offing. There might be a music show in Nashville I might be working on. It’s called “American Superstar.” And I’m doing concerts.
For me the movie business has slowed down. Even though I did 74 films, it’s just a different world now in film and music. Even [for] the bigger groups. No one sells records anymore. It’s all about touring. It’s all greatest hits records and box sets. And even those don’t sell. People just go online.
I hate to say Napster kind of killed our business, but what can I tell ya?
Q: Even with the changes, what keeps you inspired to make music?
A: I’ve been a musician for 52 years professionally. I do it because, for me, I love it.
Q: What do you think of your pal Donald Trump becoming president?
A: We had a big time in Washington. Donald invited Sly and I to the inauguration. I was gonna go, but it was too crazy, too locked down.
We went and spent New Year’s Eve with him. But Washington is too crazy. You can’t move.
Q: How do you think he’s gonna do as president?
A: I think he’s gonna do great. Because I’ve worked with him and known him a long time. He’s a guy who is not programmed to fail.
Every pundit has been wrong since Day 1. He’s a guy that’s gets stuff done. If he says he’s gonna do something, he does it. He doesn’t worry about it. He’s got thick skin. He’s gonna do it. He’s gonna bring jobs back. He’s brought 75,000 jobs back already.
It would be great for everyone to grow up like I grew up, where everyone had a job. It would be nice for everybody. I’m the son of a “legal” immigrant. I think it would be nice for everyone to get back to work. Get rid of homelessness. People could work. I think if people give him a chance, he’ll do great.
Q: Are you and Sly working on a program with him?
A: My brother might be working on a program with him to help the homecoming vets to get jobs. You got guys that served in the war that are eating out of trash cans. That’s not right. And Donald is an “America first” guy. He said, “We protect everyone else’s borders but our own.”
Q: What do you like about him?
A: First of all, he’s a nice guy. He really is. Very personable. Sits there and talks to everybody. I’m happy. I like to see something new. I think it’s exciting. He’s got a great-looking family. His wife didn’t look too bad. Not bad at all. This could be exciting.
When the country prospers, everyone does. In music and in everything. I’m really happy for him.