Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal
Gus Mancuso (Ronald Bernard Mancuso), a talented impresario, was born in Spangler, Pennsylvania in 1933. Gus grew up in Hastings, Pennsylvania as the youngest of nine children. His father, an immigrant from Italy, Joseph Mancuso, owned multiple businesses and his mother, Josephine Ceranni toiled as a stay at home mother. Despite his father’s businesses, the family struggled financially. By the eighth grade Gus moved to Rochester, New York, where his mother joined him, after his parents separated.
As a youngster Gus Mancuso learned to play the trumpet by ear. By age 11 he was encouraged to learn to play the drums so he could help earn money for the family. After two weeks of training, Gus Mancuso was earning $5 dollars as the replacement for his older brother Joe in musical performances in places like Moose Hall and the Elks Club in Pennsylvania. His performances were so legendary that an article was written about Gus entitled the “Eighth Grade Drummer”. He continued to demonstrate tremendous musical versatility even after moving from Hastings to Rochester where he received first chair trombone honors after impressing his high school band teacher.
After graduating high school, in 1951, Gus went on the road with the Don Manning Trio. Shortly thereafter, a bass player position opened in his brother’s group the Ray Brand Trio. Despite the fact that Gus did not know how to play bass, when he received the offer to become a member of Joe’s band, he went on to learn yet another instrument and joined the Ray Brand Trio. However, while with his brother’s group, Gus was drafted into the army. He packed his trumpet, and despite initially receiving flack for playing in the latrine, the lieutenant exempted Gus from duty so he could perform in the morning and at night for his fellow troops. Shortly thereafter, Gus served in the army band as a piano player.
His instrumental capabilities and proficiency helped pave the way for more opportunities. After the army he moved to Nevada and played trombone with Tony Pastor in Reno. He found his way to Las Vegas in 1955 when he opened at the New Frontier on Halloween night. Gus went on to open at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, playing bass, with Sarah Vaughn. They went on to tour Europe together. He also played bass for Billy Eckstine and Les Brown as well as worked in the music department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Gus Mancuso met Lauri Perri, a singer and his first wife, while playing for the Mary Kaye Trio in Lake Tahoe. They were married at the Little Church of the West in 1960. However, Gus is now married to Maggie Peterson an actress who worked on the Andy Griffith Show. He lives in Las Vegas and currently works three nights a week playing piano at the Bootlegger owned by his first wife and getting the job from his son Ronald.