John Paul "Bucky" Pizzarelli (born January 9, 1926) is an American jazz guitarist and banjoist, and the father of jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli and upright bassist Martin Pizzarelli. Pizzarelli has also worked for NBC as a staffman for Dick Cavett (1971) and also ABC with Bobby Rosengarden in (1952). The list of musicians Pizzarelli has collaborated with over his career includes Les Paul, Stéphane Grappelli, and Benny Goodman. Pizzarelli acknowledges Django Reinhardt, Freddie Green, and George Van Eps for their influences on his style and mode of play.
Pizzarelli began his professional career at 17 when he joined the Vaughn Monroe dance band in 1944. Near the end of World War II, while in Austria as an infantryman fulfilling wartime military service for the Army, Pizzarelli was absent from Monroe's band (though he rejoined the outfit in 1946 and played for another five years with them). While in the military, he played in an unauthorized dance band.
In 1952 Pizzarelli became a staff musician for NBC, playing with Skitch Henderson. In 1964, he became a member of the Tonight Show Band on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. During his time spent performing for the Tonight Show, he accompanied guest bands and musicians playing through a variety of musical genres, including playing with Tiny Tim (after tuning the performer's ukulele) on the day that Tiny Tim married Miss Vicki on Carson's show. While not a big fan of rock and roll, he performed seven hits with Dion and the Belmonts. George Barnes solo on Connie Francis's Lipstick on Your Collar has been described as " the greatest pop rock 'n' roll guitar solo of all time".
From 1956–1957, Pizzarelli, using the stage name "Johnny Buck," performed with the Three Suns pop music trio. He toured several times with Benny Goodman until Goodman's death in 1986. The following year he and guitarist George Barnes formed a duo and recorded two albums, including a live performance in August, 1971 at the Town Hall for the Guitar Album on Columbia Records. Beginning in the 1970s, Pizzarelli began recording as a leader, performing many tributes to musicians of the 1930s era. He has performed at the White House in Washington, D.C. with artists such as Benny Goodman, two performances for President Ronald Reagan and one for President Bill Clinton. He also played a private birthday party for former First Lady Pat Nixon at her home.
"Jersey Jazz Guitars" was the name of a 1985 concert held at the Rutgers University Nicholas Music Center in New Brunswick. The ticket featured Pizzarelli, Les Paul, Tal Farlow, and Pizzarelli's son, John. The concert was aired on New Jersey's public radio station as part of their three-part New Jersey Summerfare Series. Pizzarelli and Les Paul had performed together before with one another, as they were neighbors and friends. The show aired for one hour in August 1985, with son John adding his vocals on two selections.