Ronnie Mancuso is not only a guitarist and songwriter for the band Beggars & Thieves but is also COO of the Bootlegger Italian Bistro, a staple on the Las Vegas scene for many years, the owner of a recording studio, a live concert venue and a writer of jingles and music for the Fox TV network amongst others. He’s a man of many talents and endeavors without a doubt. Having wrote and recorded a total of four Beggars & Thieves albums (and one EP) to date with longtime bandmate and singer Louie Merlino, Ronnie has also toured with Jake E. Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel and worked with former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley too, so episode # 33 is a good one packed with lots of great stories from Ronnie about his career and life.
Beggars & Thieves is a band initially made up of lead vocalist Louie Merlino, guitarist Ron Mancuso, bassist Phil Soussan, and drummer Bobby Borg. Phil Soussan and Bobby Borg left after the band’s first album and after some light touring. They released a single and MTV video for the song "Beggars & Thieves" from their debut album.
After that album, Beggars & Thieves went through some personnel changes. Soussan left to put together a band and write for long-time friend Vince Neil's first solo project and Borg left the band to form the group Left For Dead and eventually join the multi-platinum group Warrant. Mancuso, Merlino and co-producer Michael Barbiero decided to carry on without them. In 1991, a new three-person lineup was formed—one that consisted of Louie Merlino on lead vocals, Mancuso on both bass and guitar and newcomer Bobby Chouinard on drums. It was also in 1991 that Beggars & Thieves left Atlantic and signed with Epic Records. With that new Merlino/Mancuso/Chouinard lineup plus new keyboardist Alan St. John and producer Jim Vallance, the band recorded its second album—slated to come out in 1991/92 had it not been for the sudden change in musical direction that had been brought on when the grunge movement exploded commercially in 1992 and 1993, led by bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Beggars & Thieves got caught in the corporate crossfire at Epic, which dropped the band without releasing that second album. Finding themselves without a record deal, Beggars & Thieves didn't record for any more major labels in the ‘90s. Almost overnight, the majors lost interest in the type of pop-metal/hard rock that Beggars & Thieves specialized in. Instead of looking for the next Axl Rose (Guns N' Roses) or the next Vince Neil (Mötley Crüe), major label A&R people were looking for the next Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) or the next Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam). Despite the commercial decline of pop-metal and hair bands, Beggars & Thieves kept plugging away. In 1997, Beggars & Thieves' second album, Look What You Create (the one that Epic decided not to release) was eventually released independently on MTM Music (although it had limited distribution). Two years later, in 1999, again on MTM Music and again working with producer Jim Vallance, the band released their third CD called The Grey Album. Drummer Sammy Mangiamele had replaced Bobby Chouinard by now as sadly Chouinard passed away in 1997.
Beggars and Thieves was still performing as of 2011, most notably at Vamp'd in Las Vegas and singer Louie Merlino sings for the Vegas-based band Sin City Sinners when their usual singer Todd Kerns is touring with Slash. In December 2011 the new album, We Are The Brokenhearted, finally saw the light of day with a worldwide release on Frontiers Records. The album produced by “R. Bernard Mann” (aka Ronnie) and mixed by famed engineer/songwriter Kevin Churko (Ozzy Osbourne, Five Finger Deathpunch) received fantastic reviews all over the world. The first videoclip from the album for the single "We Come Undone" excited with a guest appearance by legendary rock guitarist Jake E Lee. The second videoclip for the song "Innocence" was first introduced by AOL / Noisecreep in June. R. Bernard Mann (aka Ronnie) produced Jake E Lee's comeback album with Red Dragon Cartel, which also featured him on bass guitar.
Ronnie has said he is always writing music and songs and maintains his brotherhood with Louie Merlino so we might see a new Beggars & Thieves album at some point. Let’s hope so but for now enjoy Episode# 33 of The Jersey Guys Podcast!