Bonici family business

wife Betty with Albert

Betty [Clark] and Albert Bonici 27 Sep 1956 Registrar’s office – Inverness, Scotland

Sister Rosanna [Bonici] Williamson who had just married Stanley [3 Sep], looked after the Park Café in Elgin as her brother and new sister-n-law took time of to get married.  The couple then lived in a flat above the Park Café where Albert and Rosanna resided from 1947 to 1956. Albert and Betty continued to live in part of the family owned properties [part of PC Holding Co] as did Stanley and Rosanna.Albert also shared the company of his brother-n-law Ugo Ruggeri on a regular basis with a midday coffee in the Park Café discussing plans. Albert was regularly coming up with new business ventures though not all came to fruition. He would start his workday at 11 AM and was often at his desk up to 12 hours at HQ of the Little Cross Buildings [ with windows facing Elgin’s High Street].  Betty organized MDE [Modern Dance Entertainment] and ran the Park Café whilst Albert saw to the concerns of the Two Red Shoes venues besides other businesses. According to one source, Albert went partly bankrupt, first with the Clan perfume line and then with ice cream concessions as van drivers were pocketing returns. He still managed to bounce back and Betty was always by his side. Fortunately, his promotions business proved successful though the Eight Acres hotel project demanded part of his time.
circa Elgin1938-9

Giuilia with mother Angelina [circa Elgin Scotland 1939]

betty albert 4 Albert Bonici with sister Rossana [left] and family friend Joey. Albert and Betty were already dating by this time [Sylvester Catholic Church dance circa 1950] Sister Rosanna met her husband Stanley at this event. Ugo Ruggeri

Ugo Ruggeri was part of the Bonici family’s PC Holding Company and LCB Agency besides close friend and brother-n-law of Albert Bonici. The two spent time together over coffee and a daily basis. Whilst Ugo served in Albert’s business ventures, Albert served as secretary for Norscot which Ugo presided over before moving to Elgin Moray from his London home.   norscot 53

norscot membersBesides both men putting in long hours with family business, they both had time for creative outlets into their last years of life. Albert, who tryed his hand at writing lyrics was writing an espionage novel when he passed on. Ugo was an amateur photographer and actor. Here he is in a theatre production two years before his death:

Ruggeri dramatic society

Juila [Bonici] Ruggeri with grandson Keenan Ruggeri 2015

Giulia [Bonici] Ruggeri with grandson Keenan Ruggeri [Julia passed 27 May 2015]

“Giulia Bonici was born in Inverness on 29th of January 1923. Then in 1930 she moved back to Italy with her family at the age of seven.  She spent nine years in a boarding school in Italy until she was 16.  In 1939 she moved back to Scotland with her family where they opened the Savoy cafe. During the war Giulia was in the Land Army,and served at Woodlands Farm in Bishop mill as well as working with her mother in the Savoy Cafe in the evenings. On the 2nd of January 1947 she married Ugo Ruggeri and moved to London where in 1951, John was born – followed by Angela in 1956.* The Ruggeri family moved back to Elgin in 1960, to help with the family business of the Park Cafe and the newly opened Two Red Shoes Ballroom.  Giulia had a very busy and caring life, always there to support and help others.  She was a doting Mother and Granny to Keenan and Anne-Marie whom she loved dearly. Today we have come together to celebrate ninety-two and a half years of a full and happy life, her love, humour, and personality will be greatly missed and live on in all our hearts.”  [read at Guila’s memorial service May 2014] * According to the Wilkie interview with Mr. Bonici, Albert made a connection through Ugo Ruggeri with Tito Burns** who handled the Ray Ellington Quartet. Music director for Oh Boy! [1958] and American television show, Shindig [1964], Harry Robinson, worked with Albert Bonici to set up a tour in the north of Scotland [1952]. https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/aa-bonici-interview-jim-wilkie/ ** http://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/sep/02/tito-burns-obituary https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tito_Burns

 Albert Bonici's sister and wife Betty out with friends.

Rossana with sister-n-law Betty Bonici out with family friends.

Pictured Above: Albert Bonici with sister Rossana [left] and family friends.
Albert Bonici was an entrepreneur  who approached life with zest and vision. This is evidenced in the way he lived and used his business sense to create an environment that caused others to excel in life.  He was loved and admired by those closest to him. However, his accomplishments are also due to many folk in the north of Scotland who worked with him towards common goals. As a music and entertainment promoter, he depended on talented and dedicated staff members who were willing to multitask often on short notice, besides a plethora of entertainers hired to bring their musical talents to Elgin and many towns in the surrounding region.
Besides the hired help, Bonici’s family were their to pull their resources as necessary to make the team a success. Here is a basic overview of his family life when Albert was starting out…
Albert Bonici [1920-90] was born in Inverness, Scotland to Giuseppi and Angelina Bonici. His sibling were Rossana, Giulia “Julia”, and Aldolpho. His parents returned to Italy in 1923 and resettled in Elgin, Scotland in 1938 when the war broke out. Aldolpho was killed at 16 during the resistance and the rest of the family established themselves in NE Scotland working in business ventures. Albert’s cousin opened the Park Cafe and Bonici family including Giulia’s husband, John [Ugo] Ruggeri, worked together to grow the restaurant business which included making their own ice cream. Under the guidance of Albert Bonici and Ugo Ruggeri, the family owned several business under LCB Agency and later the P.C. Holding Company.
Albert, who was an intelligent child who inherited his father’s interest in languages, went off to St. Joseph’s College in Dumfries and got a degree in Engineering. Though initially employed as an electrical engineer for some time, Albert returned to Elgin and helped with the family business which expanded into various avenues.
In the early 50’s, Albert helped a friend to raise money by staging music shows and dances. He and his wife Betty loved enjoyed dancing to the big band groups who came to Scotland for gigs. He had a connection with agent Tito Burns of London and brought the Ray Ellington Quartet to NE Scotland. They played in Aberdeen, Elgin, and Forres which was a huge success. This helped to establish himself as a promoter, bringing British and American artists to the small towns across NE Scotland and the Highlands.. He also developed connections with director of a popular music television show, “Oh Boy!” and with Jack Fallon of Cana Variety Agency in London.
By 1959, Albert Bonici began plans for a family owned ballroom as he was renting accommodations at Elgin’s Drill Hall besides a variety of venues in Elgin and through the north of Scotland. His sister Guilia and her husband Ugo  Ruggeri moved from London to Elgin in 1959 to help with the family businesses known as the PC Holding Company where Cliff and sister Rosanna Williamson and his parents were involved with family interests. In summer of 1960, Albert opened his dance hall which was connected to the Park Cafe, and called it The Two Red Shoes, after the British film http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Red_Shoes_(1948_film).
To work with the structures already in place, the stage area had a distinctive shape, which years later, Ringo Starr complained of, as the bands were not centered stage, though the dancers had no problem seeing. It was not L shaped as has been said. John Ruggeri, who took over his uncle’s role as promoter in 1970 wrote in response to Starr’s comment, “The hall was not L shaped but had a slightly longer wall on one side, you could see the stage in all areas although you may not have been able to see the whole stage if you were standing in the far left hand corner when facing the stage, the “bar” which we called the buffet was upstairs, I think Ringo’s memory is somewhat blurred or mixing the shoes up with another venue they played, as I don’t think anyone was wearing wellies.” Note: It may have been that some came with h as there was snow on the ground, but there was a strict dress code and they were clean-cut kids wanting to meet up and dance…
Bonici, having already established connections in London and throughout Scotland, had regular bookings each and every week until the hall closed as Bonici opened a larger venue at the purchased hall, The Ballerina Ballroom, Nairn, Scotland, in 1970.
Ballerina Ballroom Nairn, Scotland. Purchased by AA Bonici 1970

Ballerina Ballroom Nairn, Scotland. Purchased by AA Bonici 1970

 

 

Built by AA Bonici business LCB 1975

Founded by AA Bonici LCB 1972 [sold 1991]

Henry with one of Albert's nephews at Eight Acres Hotel

Family friend Henry “Harry Robinson” Robertson with one of Albert’s nephews at Eight Acres Hotel

Albert Bonici's nephew, John Ruggeri, hosting disco from the

Albert Bonici’s nephew, John Ruggeri, hosting “cosmic sounds” disco from the “Straight Eight” in Eight Acres Hotel.

The hotel's disco proved to be quite popular with Moray youth.

The hotel’s disco proved to be quite popular with Moray youth. Gordon Bray ,with his “ECOSSE DISCO” photographed in the Straight Eight Disco of The Eight Acres,Gordon started Ecosse Disco while serving in the RAF at Kinloss. “the place use to be packed…indeed happy days.”
Young people around Moray who enjoyed dances at the TWO RED SHOES were attracted to the disco featuring two dj’s,
proved to be another successful business venture until noise complaints to council led to closure of the operation.
Two Red Shoes by AA Bonici business 1960

Dance floor of Two Red Shoes ballroom founded 1960 by Albert Bonici  LCB [sold 2008]

 
The Park Café was an Bonici family restaurant in 1952 onwards

The Park Café was an Bonici family restaurant in 1952 [sold 2007]

In Blue Suede Brogans, Jim Wilkie who had interviewed Albert Bonici for his book, wrote of Albert’s promoting business:
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About

My research began in 2007 as a visitor to the north of Scotland. Growing up a few miles from San Francisco, I would frequent the active music scene on weekends besides being a fan of British BEAT music and never missing Shindig! on television. When first visiting the small community of Elgin in 2007, I was surprise to learn how the Beatles and many other vocalist and musicians came to perform during the early days of their careers. In the early 1950s, Albert Bonici began promoting dances though it had been an ambition since his teenage years. When he and Henry Robertson co-organized a string of jazz dances in the north Scotland, they could not have predicted the enormous success of the venture. Albert Bonici became one of the most respected promoters in the UK having arranged a high volumn of music venues throughout the north of Scotland which delighted music lovers during the height of the jazz and beat music era. Whilst known for booking the Beatles at the beginning of their 1963 tours, Albert Bonici brought most of the top British acts to north-east Scotland besides working with Scottish musicians to boost their careers. SCOTBEAT was created to share a bit of history about the BEAT years in Scotland and also a tribute to a man with a vision who, with the help of his family and staff, created a happening that is still fondly remembered by those who attended dances and concerts. Albert A Bonici hosted many up and coming bands who went on to gain international acclaim for their contributions. Besides other local resources and interviews, SCOTBEAT presents exclusive photos, adverts, and documents from the A Bonici Archives [circa 1960s]. Unless otherwise agreed, materials are not to be used for financial gain and ask that you respect the terms below. Materials presented are not to be used for financial gain without consent. © 2014-2019 SCOTBEAT.wordpress.com. All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be copied, redistributed, broadcast or published in any form without crediting this blog and/or copyright websites mentioned. All correspondence, flyers, programs, and photos from the Bonici Archives are not to appear in print other than through the propietor of SCOTBEAT. Use of the site signifies your agreement to all of these terms without condition. Please reference https://scotbeat.wordpress.com when sharing materials found here as the site is continuously updated to present the subject matter accurately and as a historical resource. Thank you.

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Posted in 1960's pop music

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