NY Sports Day
Joe McDonald

McDonald: John Amirante Sang The Song He Loved For The Team He Loved

If you wondered who Madison Square Garden’s busiest performer was, it’s not Billy Joel.

Not U2 or the Rolling Stones.

Rather it was John Amirante.

The National Anthem singer for the Rangers passed away today at age 83 from undisclosed reasons. He performed at the Garden from 1980 up until two months ago, where Feb. 25th became his final performance.

“It is with great sadness our Rangers family shares the loss of legendary anthem singer John Amirante,” the Rangers said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with his wife Ann, his children and the entire Amirante family. We will forever remember and miss John.”

In recent years, his singing became more sporadic, due to age, and a decision made by Garden management, who wanted more name acts singing before games.

But Amirante was the one who was known to sing the anthem. In addition to the Rangers, the Plainview, NY resident sang at Knicks and Yankees games. He was also a gun for hire, singing at many a birthday, wedding or bar mitzvah. If you were a Ranger fan, who wouldn’t you want him there? He fired up the crowd like no other.

As someone who knew Amirante, I could tell you he a very nice man, who loved the niche he carved out for himself. Sure, he could sing another song or two, but he perfected that poem about the War of 1812 set to a drinking song melody.  And his signature waive to the crowd during the last line brought many a Ranger crowd into a frenzy.

Over 1000 times he opened up games. One though, stood out more than all the others combined. On June 14, 1994, he sang the anthem before Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, but no one could hear him.

The crowd was so loud, it drowned out Amirante’s voice and the result a little over two hours later made it so memorable.

You see, Amirante wasn’t just the anthem singer, but also the biggest fan in the building. In recent years, he would sit and the games after his performance, getting just as angry or and the paying crowd. And in recent years, when the Garden would push him aside, the fans would take to Twitter to express their outrage.

Simply put Amirante is a piece of Rangers lore, which we will need to treasure. It’s very doubtful the team will have one singer perform the anthem every game and it’s even more unlikely someone would do it for 38 years.

But Amirante did and as long as you remember him, his legacy will live on.

Rangertown lost a good man today. He will definitely be missed.  


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