PROVINCETOWN — John Perrone, 70, whose passion for and knowledge of Motown attracted fans from all over world, died of the novel coronavirus on April 5, 2020, the same day the Provincetown Rescue Squad transported him to Cape Cod Hospital.
For more than two weeks, he had been suffering with flu-like symptoms at his Provincetown apartment, where he lived alone, said his cousin, Paula Perrone of South Yarmouth. Though he could not get one of the limited coronavirus tests at first, Outer Cape Health Services did test him on March 25 and he found out he was positive on March 27.
His employer and neighbors were leaving him food at his doorstep; that is how a friend observed he was not doing well on April 5. The friend called 911, and Perrone was taken to the hospital, Paula said.
His cousin and his neighbor had been checking on him frequently by phone. By all accounts, he seemed to be okay, said Tom Boland, owner of Far Land Provisions, where John worked part-time. He had been the afternoon cashier since 2017.
His condition deteriorated rapidly, Boland said. Many of his friends and fellow volunteers at WOMR community radio did not even know he was ill.
“We got sucker punched by a Facebook post,” said Hank Janowsky, a fellow disc jockey and friend.
On Sunday, Paula got the dreaded phone call from a doctor at Cape Cod Hospital. She then called John Braden, executive director of WOMR, and the Far Land owners to ask them to share the news on Facebook. No one from either place has become ill, Paula said.
WOMR closed its studio on March 19. John had not been in the building since March 17, Braden said.
For two decades, fans of the radio show “Night Shift” (Tuesdays from 9 to midnight) and thousands of followers on his YouTube channel, Mosogotam, listened with Perrone to his collection of Motown records and marveled at his ability to remix and stretch versions of Motown classics, Paula said. He had great musical passion.
His extended version of Someday We’ll Be Together by the Supremes had 9.3 million views on YouTube.
“He had a very wry sense of humor,” said Andy Rahorcsak, his friend and fellow DJ. “And he had fans from all over the world who would listen to his show.”
Perrone had connections with people in the recording industry. Part of the fun of his show was interviews with Motown greats. Members of the Supremes were his friends, Rahorcsak said.
Perrone was born in 1949 outside Worcester. He and Paula were part of a large Italian family with many cousins. They would travel to North Truro and Provincetown for vacations.
John became a registered nurse while in the Navy, his cousin said. He lived in Washington, D.C., before moving to Provincetown about 20 years ago. When he retired from nursing at Seashore Point, he got his job at Far Land for what he called “cigarette money,” Janowsky said.
“He was great to work with,” Boland said. “Customers loved him. He would really engage with them.”