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Marty Angelo, who owned a bar on Buffalo New York's Hertel Avenue and had a career as a music promoter, spent time in federal prison and now leads a ministry devoted to helping people beat drug and alcohol addictions.  Derek Gee/Buffalo News

‘Party Marty’ no more

Party Marty’ no more

Sunday Profile /Marty Angelo

By Louise Continelli - BUFFALO NEWS STAFF REPORTER

01/06/08

He was the manager of rock groups like the Grass Roots, known for the 1960s monster hit “Midnight Confessions.” 

Marty Angelo’s own midnight confession is that he became hopelessly addicted to drugs and alcohol. 

Once known as “Party Marty” in Buffalo New York’s Allentown neighborhood, where he owned a bar, Angelo spent a few years in federal prison following his cocaine arrest. 

“It seemed everyone with the music business consumed drugs,” Angelo recalled. “But safety in numbers didn’t make what we did legal. Deep down, I know selling drugs to friends was illegal. I just didn’t stay straight long enough to think about it.” 

Now, Angelo, through his prison ministry, reaches out to everyone — from teens to prisoners — in an effort to deglamorize substance abuse and help people give up drinking and drugging. 

“A few people tell me, ‘Oh Marty, you had your fun.’ It wasn’t fun,” said Angelo, following a recent meeting of Buffalo’s Teen Challenge. “I’m sorry I promoted that lifestyle in Buffalo.” In his new memoir, “Once Life Matters,” Angelo says prison “did have the worst living conditions I’ve ever known. But I hit bottom before I went in.” 

In the 1970s, Angelo also created Buffalo’s hottest TV production “Disco Step-by-Step,” and introduced a young Buffalo singer by the name of Rick James to a TV audience. 

It led Angelo to a career as a music promoter — and to the pit of addiction and prison. 

“Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?” Angelo said. “He knows what each of us needs.” 

Before he went to prison, Angelo received the strength to overcome his addiction. 

It all took place in a converted farmhouse in Springville, New York, where a minister and a small group of people read from the Bible. 

“They said they were going to ‘lay hands’ on me and that I should expect something to happen,” he recalled. “They said that God was going to work a miracle in my life.” 

Angelo was asked if he wanted to be “born again.” 

“Yeah, I thought, I would love to be born all over again. I’ve tried everything else, and nothing seems to work,” he said. “The group around me then laid their hands on me. At that precise moment, I heard three loud claps of thunder — boom, boom, boom — all in a row. 

“I felt something surging inside me . . . like an electrical current. 

“The sensation lasted for only an instant. But at that moment, I experienced a high that nothing could match — not booze, drugs. 

“I felt a sense of calm, a peace. I haven’t been the same since that day.” 

He said his faith has been further reinforced by attending Full Gospel Tabernacle in Orchard Park, New York with Pastor Tommy Reid. Angelo — appearing professorial in suit jacket, sweater and tie — will speak there later this year. 

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