In the summer of 1964, I returned to Detroit with Teddy Licavoli. After a few weeks of hanging out, Teddy got engaged to the daughter of a wine distributor. They planned an elaborate engagement party. The old man, Peter Licavoli, rented a big ballroom. Teddy started acting crazy and told me ”Fuck it, I don’t wanna get married.” Instead of settling down with his fiancee, Teddy rented us an apartment in an old mansion, charged a bunch of stereo equipment to his old man, and partied.
In late 1964, things weren’t looking so good for the marriage. I was hanging out at Peter Licavoli’s art gallery, Vesuvio, helping unload paintings. Vesuvio is Italian for Vesuvius. I was unwrapping a painting when Peter Licavoli came out of the back office and walked up to me. ”Put that down!” He cocked his head. ”Get the fuck out of here and don’t come around here no more! Stay away from the house! Stay away from Teddy. If you go around Teddy, I’ll break your fucking legs.”
Flabbergasted, I had no idea what was up, but I knew not to give him no shit. ”Ok Mr Pete, but do you mind if I ask what I did to deserve this?” ”You’re the cause of Teddy not getting married!” He was mad ’cause of all the money he’d spent on the wedding, and his loss of face after sending out the invitations. He thought I’d cast a spell on Teddy, but Teddy was leading me. In his eyes, his kids were never to blame.
That same night, still upset with Peter Licavoli, I went down to the Checker Barbecue. Inside were gangsters from all over Detroit, the singer, Marvin Gaye, and the owner of Motown Records. Teddy arrived with his head in his ass as usual and sat at the next table.
At 2am, Peter Licavoli’s bodyguard, Black Tony, came in, about sixty with black hair sprayed down, and a dark blue overcoat right down to his ankles, average height, but as wide as a wall. He had no fucking neck, and his nose was smashed in, like he belonged in Wise Guys. ”Get up!” he yelled at the kid next to me so he could sit down.
Drunk, I didn’t give a fuck about being run off by Peter Licavoli. Fuck these guys. Black Tony sat down. ”Hey, how’re you doing, Tony?” I asked.
”Ok.” Pointing at Teddy, Black Tony said ”I thought the old man told you to stay away from this kid.”
I was gonna say, ”He ain’t with me,” but I never got the fucking chance. Black Tony backhanded my face. My head hit a pole behind, stunning me.
”Get outside, now!” he yelled. In Black Tony’s eyes I could see my own death. The whole fucking joint started staring.
I got up and went outside with him right fucking behind me. Scared, I was thinking ‘This is it. I’m gonna die on Brush Street.’ I turned around.
”I’ll blow your fucking brains out if I catch you near Teddy again!”
I knew I couldn’t fight this guy. Even if I whupped him, it would’ve been a one-way ticket to the bone yard. Fifteen guys were watching by now, none of them rooting for me, all for Black Tony.
All at once, Black Tony’s nephew yelled, ”What are you fucking with this guy for?” The Zerilli Crime Family was grooming Ronnie Morelli to be somebody. He had all of the charisma in the world. He looked like he was born and raised for ‘The Godfather.’ ”If you wanna slap someone, slap Teddy ’cause he wants this guy with him everywhere he goes.”
Suddenly, Black Tony got real fucking humble. ”I didn’t know that. The old man didn’t want him around.” Thanks to Ronnie, the beef was squashed.
This is an extract from the book The Mafia Philosopher: Two Tonys by Shaun Attwood
“A fast-paced true-crime memoir with all of the action of Goodfellas” – UNILAD
This post contains affiliate links. We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. This is at no extra cost to you, and it helps to keep our website going. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!