Exclusive: Laura Nyro was one of our great singer songwritersâ€“a legend. â€œSweet Soul Picnic,â€ â€œEliâ€™s Coming,â€ and â€œAnd When I Dieâ€ were just three of her many hits. Sheâ€™s finally been voted into the Rock and Roll Fame. But the foundation, which operates in New York, has refused to invite her only son (actually, only child) period to the Cleveland induction ceremony. Gil Bianchini lives in New York, and is a singer-rapper-musician. He is Nyroâ€™s sole heir. But Nyroâ€™s estate fell into the hands of a non relative,a woman named Patti DiLauria, years ago. Even though DiLauria had a tenuous connection to Nyro, she is the executor. So the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is flying her out and putting her up. She will receive Nyroâ€™s award. Bianchini, after many protests from his lawyers, was allowed this morning to purchase two tickets for $100 apiece to the Cleveland ceremony. Theyâ€™re in the nosebleed section, with the public, far from the other stars and inductees.
â€œTheyâ€™re not even on the floor,â€ Bianchini tells me. He has no idea how heâ€™ll get to Cleveland yet or where heâ€™ll stay, Or how heâ€™ll be treated. He says he hasnâ€™t seen DiLauria for years.
According to his lawyers and to Bianchini, DiLauria refuses to turn over Nyroâ€™s personal effects to him. Instead, sheâ€™s offered to donate some of them to the Hall of Fame museum in Cleveland. Nyro died in 1997 at age 49, leaving a then teenage Gil in the care of her lover, Maria Desiderio. But Desiderio died the next year, also of cancer, and left the estate in control of her friend, Patti DiLauria. DiLauria, according to Gil and his lawyers, has mostly ignored his existence. â€œSheâ€™s tried to disinherit me,â€ Gil says. Heâ€™d like to get back some of his motherâ€™s notebooks and other personal things to give to his children. He has threeâ€“ a little boy, and newish twin daughters, one of whom he named Laura.
The RRHOF has an uncanny ability to do the wrong whenever possible.
In the past, theyâ€™ve charged inductees for tickets to their ceremonies. Theyâ€™ve rarely honored the wishes of family members. Joel Peresman, who runs the foundation and earns almost a half million dollars a year, told me it was â€œa complicatedâ€ situation with Laura Nyro and that heâ€™d discuss it with his committee.
DiLauria tells me that it wasnâ€™t up to her to invite Bianchini, and that the estate has been closed for some time. She said: â€œI didnâ€™t know he [Gil] wanted his motherâ€™s possessions.â€ She told sheâ€™s been considering giving the stuff to the RRHOF. Is the foundation flying her out and buying her tickets? â€œTheyâ€™re a gift from a friend,â€ is all she would say.
The RRHOF is mostly run by Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, who staffs the nominating committee with friends and former employees. Last year he tried to change the eligibility period from 25 to 20 years to speed up the induction of more c0ntemporary groups. A few years ago he tossed out a ballot on which the Dave Clark Five had been voted in by the membership, replacing them with Grandmaster Flash. I wrote about it, and subsequently the DF5 was inducted the next year. But by then the groupâ€™s leader, Mike Smith, was dead.
At the Cleveland ceremony, Bette Midler will perform a medley of Nyroâ€™s songs that could also include â€œWedding Bell Blues,â€ â€œStoney End,â€ â€œSweet Blindness,â€ â€œBlowinâ€™ Away,â€ and â€œUp on the Roof.â€ The latter song was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, but it was Nyroâ€™s biggest hit and possibly the all time best version of it.