Big Band concert offers tribute to Dick Wells, the Voice of Warwick

| 22 Aug 2017 | 01:04

By Roger Gavan
— He would have said: "The show must go on."
On Friday evening, Aug. 18, the Dick Wells/Jim Perry Big Band was scheduled to perform at Railroad Green in the Village of Warwick. The event was also planned as a memorial tribute to Dick Wells, a popular radio host at WTBQ and big band concert singer, who passed away in 2015.
However, rain, heavy at times, caused the event to be moved inside to the Warwick Reformed Church.
Nevertheless, the band, led by retired Sgt. Major Jim Perry, former group leader and lead alto saxophonist with the United States Military Academy Band Jazz Knights at West Point, gave an excellent performance as usual.
And some of Wells' closest friends, including Town of Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton Mayor Michael Newhard, Leo Kaytes Sr. and former Village Trustee Bill Iurato, who organizes the Summer Concert Series, were on hand to pay tribute and present a bronze plaque in his honor that will be placed in Railroad Green.
Wells, who was known for his many pro bono performances for worthy causes, was a longtime professional singer who had performed on Las Vegas stages with legendary entertainers like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.
In addition to singing with the Harry James orchestra, Wells also sang with the Sammy Kaye orchestra. And he once appeared on the Johnny Carson Tonight Show.
On June 11, 2005, Wells performed in the first of Warwick's outdoor Summer Concert Series at Railroad Green.
"There was no one with a bigger heart or more compassionate than Dick Wells," said Sweeton. "He shared his exceptional talent with our community and touched so many lives that made our town a better place. It is fitting that he will be honored with a memorial on Railroad Green where he entertained so many."
Kaytes, a longtime close friend, recalled that he first met Wells at the grand opening of his Ford dealership in 1978. And they remained friends and golf buddies for 35 years.
"It is natural," he said, "as time goes by and through generational changes people tend to forget the greatness of this man. So I am pleased that the village is installing this plaque where he entertained so many people on Railroad Green."
Wells had a unique trademark. He always wore red socks and on this Friday evening, Mayor Michael Newhard showed the audience that in honor of Dick Wells he was also wearing red socks.
"We miss him," said Newhard. "His generosity was his calling card. In some ways he is legend and tonight he is with us."