Most people think that music record executive Scott Borchetta discovered Taylor Swift.

Borchetta was a Dreamworks Records executive, who was about to launch his own independent record label, Big Machine Records.

In 2005, Taylor Swift did catch the attention of Borchetta at an industry showcase event in Nashville, Tennessee, held at The Bluebird Café.

All of that is absolutely true, however, this is likely the first time ever, that you’re going to learn about who really discovered Taylor Swift.

It was about 5 years before Borchetta did.

I first learned about the true beginnings of Taylor Swift from my friend for life (FFL Club Member) Tony Orlando, who personally conveyed this amazing story to me as follows:

I can't believe it, But Taylor Swift’s Dad (Scott), confirmed it when I asked him about this. That it was indeed Atlantic City Entertainer Johnny Petillo who gave Taylor her first start in Atlantic City. Johnny introduced Taylor to her first audiences at the tender age of twelve, and Johnny said even as a 12-year-old, he was always amazed at Taylor's ability to command the stage and love her audiences. In fact, Taylor Swift in her first book … in chapter one, speaks about Johnny Petillo’s help. Imagine ... now, that 12-year-old, little girl packs 80 thousand people in stadiums around the entire world. Wow!!! what a great story! - said Tony Orlando, who is a music/entertainer Icon, with a 64-year career permanently engraved into his impeccable résumé.

Resorts Casino Hotel photo. Tony Orlando & Mark Giannantonio.
Resorts Casino Hotel photo. Tony Orlando & Mark Giannantonio.

The above photo is of Tony Orlando and Mark Giannantonio, President and Chief Executive Officer of Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City.

Tony Orlando became the first person in Resorts Hotel Atlantic City Wall of Fame history to place his hands in concrete on two separate occasions.

Here are Tony Orlando and Tom Cantone, President of Sports and Entertainment for Mohegan Sun Gaming, Inc. on the day before Tony Orlando’s final live touring concert at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Tony Orlando Finale mega concert at the Mohegan Sun Arena attracted more than 10,000 adoring Tony Orlando fans. It was pure magic.

Tom Cantone photo.
Tom Cantone photo.

Tony Orlando is one of the most generous A-List performers in history. Tony’s loyalty to Johnny Petillo is a beautiful thing to watch.

Look at this photo. It is 12-year-old Taylor Swift’s CD Demo from the year 2001.

Taylor Swift inscribed it with a personal message to Johnny Petillo (see directly below):

Johnny Petillo photo.
Johnny Petillo photo.

Note: There are 5 songs on Taylor Swift’s CD Demo:

  1. Star Spangled Banner
  2. There's Your Troubte
  3. One Way Ticket
  4. Here You Come Again
  5. Hopelessly Devoted To You

It reads:




Also included was Taylor’s website, email address and phone number.

Johnny Petillo is the first person to ever bring Taylor Swift on stage to perform. He did so during his own show, which was taking place at Henny's in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.

Taylor Swift was just 12-years-old. Petillo first met Taylor Swift when she was 10-years-old.

Just imagine what was in store for Taylor Swift in the years ahead?

This June, 2024, Petillo will have spent 62 years in show business. He is a very youthful looking 75 years young.

I’ve always been convinced that it is the music that keeps these long-standing performers younger than their years.

Just look at Tony Orlando at age 80, with the sharpest mind and youthful characteristic traits.

Johnny told me that he ”first met Tony Orlando in the 1970's in Las Vegas and performed with Tony for about 33 years,” said Petillo.

Johnny was on hand and performed in both of Tony Orlando‘s penultimate show at Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City and the finale at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut … with both events taking place during 6 magical days in March, 2024.

Petillo told me that he has loved every minute of his time working with Tony Orlando.

Johnny Petillo’s pedigree is tremendous; working with Danny and The Juniors and The Duprees. Petillo also spent some time with The Tokens … and, of course the more than three decades with The Legendary Tony Orlando.

“Atlantic City will always have a special place in my heart for all the television shows that so did in Atlantic City. It's been a Magnificent Ride!* - said Petlllo.

Full disclosure, I have been a huge Johnny Petillo fan for more than 45 years. I love both his talent and his big, beautiful heart.

Johnny Petillo is a kind and decent man, with a heart of pure gold.

Johnny Petillo photo.
Johnny Petillo photo.

Now, here is our wide-ranging interview with Johnny Petillo … who shares in his own words … the story about Taylor Swift and her very early career, featuring performances in the Atlantic City and Cape May County areas.

I knew Taylor's father Scott Swift before I even met Taylor. I met Taylor when she was 10 years old. And then when she was 12 years old, I brought her on stage and she would sing and always knew how to work the stage and connected with the audience every time that she performed. Taylor's mom and dad, Scott and Andrea Swift … were always there to support Taylor. I learned that Scott Swift was a big Tony Orlando fan and I gave him Tony's phone number. I remember when Taylor and the family left for Nashville, I told Taylor that you're gonna be a big country Star and she said “dreams do come true you know?” And in just a few years she came back to Henny's in Stone Harbor and I called her on the stage. And she said “hi, Johnny dreams really do come true.” I didn't have any of Taylor's tracks because people kept taking them So, Taylor did a “The Chicks” (formerly The Dixie Chicks) song and brought the house down. I think I was the first SWIFTIE without even knowing it.

Tony Orlando's wife named us the senior Swifties. The irony of it all Is that my wife Denise has the same birthday as Taylor Swift on December 13th. I saw Taylor's movie, The Eras tour and I must say that is the greatest show on earth today. Taylor mentioned me in her first book “Secrets of a Sing Writer, By Taylor Swift.“ In chapter one, Taylor Swift is the most down-to-earth, kind-hearted person that you'll ever meet. She literally loves what she is doing. And most of all … her fans, 80,000 of them pack stadiums and they love Taylor. She is Loved all around the world. What I don't like is when grown adults become haters of Taylor because of football and plain old nasty jealousy. When I see any nasty or hateful remarks on my news feed About Taylor, I let them know and then I block them. Taylor Swift is beyond a great person and does such good for so many people. And charities … especially all the food banks and shelters all around the World.

I'm an old rock ‘n roller and when I see all the good and all the joy that Taylor Swift brings to people and to this world, it makes me so proud to be in the same show business that she's in.

As I look back when Taylor Swift was 12 years old, And she signed her CD Demo for me … I now realize that I was standing next to greatness the whole time. God bless Taylor Swift, her family … her friends and her fans - said Johnny Petillo.

As you can see, Johnny Petillo protected Taylor Swift when she was 12-years-old and he still does so more than 22 years later.

Johnny Petillo is truly one of the most talented, humble and decent entertainers that you will ever find in show business.

I hope that you have enjoyed this incredible and special walk down Taylor Swift, Tony Orlando and Johnny Petillo Memory Lane.

SOURCES: Tony Orlando & Johnny Petillo.

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