He was born in Compton with two club feet and a displaced hip. He wanted to play drums, but his father was concerned that his disabilities would discourage him. He was given a bass at age 9 to play with his older brother in his band. He then went on to play with a publicly funded big band group through high school that caught the eye of a couple of members of Tommy Dorsey’s band. They persuaded him to come to New York at age 19 to play with the famed band.
After a year he decided to get back to his own visions of his career. Then came the “Queen of Soul.” Although he wanted to pursue his own musical aspirations, he was asked by Aretha Franklin to be her touring bassist. “How do you say ‘no’ to Aretha?” Brandino said.
“I did 22 years of loyalty to the queen. I then decided to devote myself to my nonprofit work and let some other young kid come in and do what I did.”