Not a lot, if truth be known. I believe that he was of Italian extraction, and that he recorded his self-financed and self-pressed albums in and around Miami during the late 60s and early 70s.
He issued several albums, including Vinny Roma Sings His Head Off (1968) and the 1972 release Sunset in Rome (which, according to a brief mention in Billboard, was issued by his own Vinny Roma Enterprises label). The latter may be the same album as Vinny Roma Sings (which was also issued in 1972). It’s equally possible that these three albums were simply reissues of the same material: all of the songs on Vinny Roma Sings are also included on the earlier Sings His Head Off, including the song Sunset in Rome. There was also at least one 45, again on Vinny Roma Enterprises (‘produced solely by Vinny Roma’, as the disc’s label grandly states and presumably released around 1972/3) which coupled a cover of Love Story with Vinny’s self-penned Sunset in Rome. Again, both songs appear on all three (or is it two) known albums. Sammy Davis Jr. owned a copy of the single, presumably sent to him or given to him by Vinny himself.
I can also tell you that Vinny Roma was not his real name: in his day-to-day life our man went by the name Vincent J Tozzo.
Vincent J Tozzo was born on November 2, 1929, and served in the US Air Force in Korea; I found a reference which claims that he also saw action in World War Two, but as he was just 15 when that particular conflict ended this seems slightly dubious. Mr Tozzo appears to have suffered some sort of injury whilst in combat, as his name appears on a list of disabled war veterans published in the 1980s. He married, and he and his wife had at least one son, also called Vincent. He died on May 31, 1994 at 64 years old. He was buried in Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell, Fl.
And that’s it. Copies of Vinny Roma Sings His Head Off occasionally turn up for sale on Ebay and usually command high prices. It’s certainly the easier to find of his two (or is it three) albums, but I’ve yet to track down a copy for my own collection. Luckily, one of Vinny’s songs – Ah, Music – was included on the 2012 collection Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958 – 1992, and it’s that sole track, which was first brought to my attention by WWR regular Graham Clayton, that I present for you today. If any of you possess any of Vinny’s other recordings, please do share!