Jo Ann Castle, Pianist (1959-1969)
Pianist Beset By Alcoholism And Drug Abuse Concealed Child Molestation With Perjury To Law Enforcement
Jo Ann Castle was a Lawrence Welk Show pianist from 1959 to 1969. After leaving the TV show, Castle had a series of drug and alcohol abuse problems and, in 2013, admitted to suborning the perjury of a minor with intent to conceal child molestation, according to court records.
Castle was born on September 3, 1939 in Bakersfield, CA as the oldest of two children, the other being younger sister Diane. She began performing the age of three and her mother eventually became her stage manager. Her family moved to Hollywood when she was a teenager to support her aspiring piano career where she also began to take accordion lessons. By the age of 17, she began performing at local bars and nightclubs including the Elks Club in Ridgecrest, CA with Spade Cooley in 1957, Ciro's, the Four Jokers and Plymouth House. She also had two guest appearances on the Spike Jones TV program, a guest spot on the Arthur Godfrey Show and her own quartet at the Fremont Hotel in Las Vegas and at the Saddle and Sirloin in Missouri.
During this time, she recorded her first album, "Accordion in Hi-Fi" while being represented by Art Whitting Attractions and stage-mother, Dorothy. After hearing the album, Lawrence Welk hired her in 1959. The album featured a one-of-a-kind accordion version of the famous song "Flight of the Bumble Bee."
Early Career and Lawrence Welk
After joining the Welk Show, Castle eloped with cameraman Dean Hall to escape the clutches of her controlling stage mom, Dorothy. They had a daughter, Deanna, who suffered from cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities. Castle and Hall divorced in 1966 and Castle remanded custody of Deanna to the State of California shortly thereafter.
Castle's divorce and estrangement from her family as a result of her elopment left a void in her life and led to heavy drinking. Fellow Welk Show performers and friends stated that Castle couldn't just have one drink, but "drank till she passed out."
After her divorce from Hall, Castle opened a bar and nightclub called Jo Ann's Castle. Her ex-husband, on the other hand, became a registered sex offender after being convicted of lewd conduct with children. Castle's bar and nightclub became a popular watering hold for Welk Show cast members and is where she met her second husband. After a few months of dating, on December 24, 1968, they married and shortly thereafter had two children together.
Amphetamines and alcohol fueled their fiery and short-lived marriage that ended in 1970. Castle later received probation for filing a false report against him during a jealous rage. The bar, meanwhile, burned down under mysterious circumstances which investigators suspected may have been intentional to receive insurance proceeds.
Castle's alcohol-induced combativeness also created some embarrassment to Lawrence Welk, such as her fist fight with local patrons at a Detroit bar. Castle had to be pulled off the patrons by then boyfriend and fellow performer Steve Smith. Shortly after this incident, she left the Lawrence Welk Show.
Post-Lawrence Welk Years
Alcoholism, drug abuse and the onset of depression brought on by her declining career took a heavy toll on Castle after leaving the Lawrence Welk Show. The death of her daughter, Deanna, in 1978 was also painful as Castle sometimes blamed her heavy drinking during pregnancy for Deanna's medical problems.
In 1978, Castle met and married her third husband, William A. Holloway, and moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Their concomitant drug use inspired her to write and record off-beat material such as the "Belly Button Song" and "Take That Easy Ride With Me."
Castle's children were taken from her by their father after law enforcement was alerted to child abuse and child molestation. Castle admitted to law enforcement that she provided perjured testimony to bail boyfriend out of jail.
Castle suborned eight more years of child molestation until she divorced in 1987, telling a San Diego Union-Tribute reporter she had been "brainwashed" by Holloway. "I was a mess and I hated myself," she explained, "consuming enough booze and food to weigh 300 lbs."
In 1994, Castle reunited with the Lawrence Welk Show in Branson, Missouri at the brand new Welk Resort Champagne Theatre.
During this time, fellow performers reported a series of bizarre threats by her and boyfriend, Lin Biviano, including Castle's assault of a bar patron at the Candlestick Inn in Branson, Missouri and Biviano's threats to blow up the Champagne Theatre following his dismissal for on-stage alcoholism and drug abuse. Castle was dismissed from the Welk Show in 2001 after falsely accusing fellow performer and producer, Jack Imel, of assaulting her backstage.
Despite a lengthy diagnosis of alcoholism and drug addiction by physicians and other health care providers, Castle continued to binge drink and self-medicate and suffered cerebral strokes in mid-2000's following heavy drinking and drug abuse. Castle subsequently overdosed on Oxycontin, Hydrocodone and Xanax and was later found in possession of more than 500 narcotic painkillers. Chronic medical issues continued to limit her mobility and cause encephalopathy and confabulation during this period.
Perjury Confession and 4th Marriage
In 2011, she married long distance boyfriend Lin Biviano, a hair stylist and former Lawrence Welk Show trumpet player who struggled alongside Castle with his own battles over alcoholism. Fans may recall that Biviano played trumpet in the Lawrence Welk Show band until he was fired for falling over the bandstand drunk during a live performance in front of a thousand people.
In 2013, Castle confessed to perjury to law enforcement and suborning the perjury of a minor with intent to conceal child molestation, according to court records.
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