Bea Enterprises/View Designs, 1994

by Richard Ruelas and Michael K. Sweeney

Michael Condello was born an only child in New York City. His first words were, "You've got to get me out of here!" While still but a tyke, he moved as quickly as he possibly could to Phoenix. Once in Arizona, Mike discovered It's Wallace? and tuned in every day. He became an official Wallace Watcher and even appeared on the show when he was in the fourth grade.

Mike's interest in music began at a young age and he started playing guitar seriously when he was 14. His first band was called the King's Four. Mike spent as much time as he could at a popular teenage nightclub, Jack Curtis' Stage 7. When Stage 7 needed a new house band, Mike joined forces with local musicians Rich Post and Bob Dearborn to become the Stage 7 Combo.

During this time, Mike also played guitar as an accompanist for a woman who gave vocal lessons. One of her students was Bill Thompson's daughter, Carrie. Mike later provided Carrie's accompaniment when she appeared on The Lew King Show while he was hidden behind a curtain.

People who were old enough to have a driver's license took Mike to jam sessions, where he sometimes ran into Thompson checking out local talent. Before he knew it, Mike and his group were playing for Wallace and Ladmo stage shows.

The Condello Combo soon became the house band for KPHO's new show, Teen Beat. Mike started appearing regularly on It's Wallace? Although he still appeared around town with his band, he had more fun writing song parodies for It's Wallace? and doing silly things on the show. He acted in many of the Wallace Old Time Movies and was an important component of the show's many musical groups, including the Buggs, the Ladmo Trio and Commodore Condello's Salt River Navy Band. He was also a Wheel and performed with Hub Kapp on The Steve Allen Show (he is especially remembered for his imitation of a dying cockroach while playing his guitar for Hub.)

Mike's original band stayed together during his tenure on It's Wallace?, but went through a series of name changes, including The Mike Condello Combo, Last Friday's Fire and Condello. The group also went through a series of really dumb record deals but still played rock 'n' roll at Valley nightclubs and even had a national fan club in the late '60s.

Mike's memories of It's Wallace?: "Lots and lots of laughs!"