Arts DEVO: Dads

Don DiBono surrounded by the members of Decades, including his son Billy DiBono (standing at his right).
Jason Cassidy

Band dad

Last month, Butte County’s music scene lost one of its giants, Don DiBono, who died on Dec. 7. He was 74.

In the December issue of the CN&R, this column featured a tribute to those from the local arts/music scene who we lost in 2021, with very brief synopses outlining their contributions. If the newspaper hadn’t already been in the racks when DiBono passed, his blurb (which has been added to the online version) would have read:

Longtime Chico music impresario, owner/booker for Cabos nightclub and Entertainment Services concert productions, booker for Feather Falls Casino, mastermind of the band Decades and No. 1 Beatles fan.

DiBono was unwavering in his commitment to promoting live events in Butte County. For 45 years, he followed his passion for music and applied his natural talent as an organizer to bring touring musicians to Chico (Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, many a Beatles tribute, to name a few) and put local acts on stages.

It is perhaps his time running the legendary Cabos (which was in the old Herreid Music spot at The Junction intersection in Chico) where DiBono’s legacy is most felt locally. From 1976 to 1985, the south-of-downtown club was a jumpin’ nightspot featuring local and touring bar bands, including the likes of Robert Cray, Norton Buffalo and even The Doobie Brothers. If you’ve enjoyed the rock and blues dance bands that—in the years since—have kept the dance floors of places like La Salles, the Blue Max and even the Sierra Nevada Big Room packed, you have DiBono to thank for putting Chico on the map and setting the stage for the bookers who came after.

DiBono’s most recent role had been as booking agent/manager for the very popular cover act Decades, which features his son Billy DiBono on drums and for which he booked more than 1,000 shows in Chico and beyond over the past 11 years.

Don DiBono (photo by Alan Sheckter)

It is regretful that the CN&R had yet to honor him with a CAMMIES Lifetime Achievement award before COVID forced the cancellation of last year’s event. It was long overdue for such a pioneering and iconic figure in the scene.

The CN&R sends condolences to Billy, the other members of Decades and all the rest of Don’s family and friends.

My Dad

On Dec. 8, after a years-long struggle with a variety of life-threatening illnesses, my dad, Mike Cassidy, died in the ICU at Mercy Medical Center in Redding. Early that morning, my mother, sisters, a few other family members and I visited him in pairs to say our goodbyes before he peacefully passed at the age of 71.

Mike wasn’t my birth father, but he’s always been Dad. My mom, Carla, and he were married a few days before my fourth birthday, and I have called him “Dad” ever since. He taught me to drive a stick shift; he sang the “greasy, grimy gopher guts” song for me and my three sisters on command; and he was our fiercest defender—confronting bullies, teachers and anyone else who made the mistake of causing a problem for his kids. He worked hard his whole life to make ours possible.

Dad had rough start in life, and it’s pretty unbelievable that the young hellraiser from Long Beach with the unruly afro (which he’d sometimes tame with egg whites) chose to settle down, get married, adopt me and my sister Leslie, have two more daughters (Heather and Sheridan) with my mom and commit his life to selling things (cars mostly) to feed and clothe us. I know without out a doubt that he would say his luckiest day was the night he met Carla at that bowling alley in Hemet and that his greatest achievement in life was choosing her and enjoying a lifetime of love in return.

Dad and I weren’t very close. Mostly, we were just two very different people. I do know I love him as my dad, and I know he loved me as his son. And that’s everything.

Rest in peace, Dad.

A young Mike Cassidy surrounded by his wife and three of his four children.

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