tampabay.com

Together, they hit the right note

A rock musician finds the love of his life in a photograph.

By AMY SCHERZER Times Staff Writer
Published September 7, 2007


PALMA CEIA - If a picture's worth a thousand words, then the first photograph Don Miggs saw of Lisa DeBartolo is priceless. 

"It spoke to me," Miggs said. 

The frontman for his self-named rock band, Miggs, chanced upon the photo while visiting her sister's home in Boulder, Colo. 

Months later, when the two were finally face to face, DeBartolo felt the same instant familiarity. 

"I never Googled her, had no idea about her family," he said. "I just knew she would change my life."

That she did. For instance, NFL greats Jerry Rice and Joe Montana were among the couple's wedding guests. Irish indie rocker Damien Rice played for them, and another legend, pop singer Paul Anka, sang, revising the lyrics to My Way that he wrote for Frank Sinatra to fit the Super Bowl of weddings.

* * *

"I saw him staring at me," DeBartolo said, "but it didn't make me feel uncomfortable. I thought he was kinda cute."

She could have grabbed a bodyguard - her parents Candy and shopping center billionaire Eddie DeBartolo Jr. - often travel with security. But Miggs didn't set off any alarms that September 2005 night.

He and the band played a college gig in Chicago, then drove 700 miles to New York. Miggs heard the girl in the picture was going to be there, at her sister's book launch.

Miggs spied her instantly, and hovered for the chance to tell her she had the most beautiful smile he'd ever seen. Finally, at the author's after-party, he introduced himself.

"I swore I wasn't hitting on her," said Miggs, 39. "I promised I wasn't a weirdo."

Miggs also told DeBartolo he was married.

The musician's sincerity intrigued DeBartolo, 37, who had just ended a 10-year relationship, partly because neither marriage nor children were on her agenda. She asked Miggs to put her name on the band's e-mail list.

Ten months passed before they saw each other again. In a July 2006 e-mail, DeBartolo saw the band's tour dates included a stop in Los Angeles. She let Miggs know she'd like to come hear them play, and he was waiting outside for her when she arrived.

"I played the whole show to her," Miggs said.

She told him she loved his music. He said he'd believe that if she came to hear them the following night, in Santa Monica.

"I knew then," she said. "It was love at second sight."

When she got home, DeBartolo sent Miggs a lengthy e-mail.

"I told him I already had a ridiculously wonderful life but that he filled a hole I never knew I had," she said.

When Miggs now ex-wife intercepted the e-mail, his "already-over marriage was officially over," he said.

A week later, he was on a red-eye flight to Tampa.

Lisa was at the gate at 6 a.m.

"Our first kiss," she said.

Ten days later, they booked Los Angeles celebrity wedding planner Mindy Weiss.

* * *

The couple discovered their backgrounds are as different as their values are alike.

Miggs grew up in Long Island in a blue-collar home where the music never stopped. He wrote his first song at 8 and often joined his father and four uncles on guitar, piano or drums. Their repertoire ran from Dion & the Belmonts to Bee Gees to Kiss.

After a decade working for a New York manufacturer of security systems, Miggs moved to Santa Cruz, Calif., to start a related business. That didn't take off, but a marketing position in San Francisco and his music career did.

DeBartolo lived in Youngstown, Ohio, until she was 18 and left for college in California. She remembers her first concert at age 7 when her mother took her to see Queen open for Shaun Cassidy.

After her father bought the San Francisco 49ers, DeBartolo ran the team's charitable foundation and organized the first AIDS Awareness Day in the NFL. Since moving to Tampa in 2000, she disburses about $300,000 in grants and scholarships for the DeBartolo Family Foundation annually.

The pair say they are inspired by their parents' marriages, 41 years for George and Kathy Meigel who retired to Largo, and 38 years for the DeBartolos who live in the Avila subdivision.

* * *

They wed on May 10, a Thursday, for various reasons, including that it was rock star Bono's birthday and an astrologist friend said it would be a lucky day for them.

Nearly 200 guests celebrated with the couple over four days in Los Angeles. First, a welcome party in the Beverly Wilshire hotel penthouse. Next came a rehearsal dinner at Wolfgang Puck's famed Spago restaurant. The ceremony took place at 5 p.m. at Hotel Bel Air.

"We didn't want it to be stuffy and it wasn't," DeBartolo said. "It was intimate and amazing."

Entertainment by longtime family friend, Paul Anka, and rocker Damien Rice made sure of that. In the end, photographers had taken more than 2,300 photos of the lavish festivities.

The invitation read: Dress romantic. She was married in a gown by designer Monique Lhuillier but was dancing in blue jeans at 3 a.m.Their honeymoon rocked: Athens, Santorini, Prague, Paris and London.

Now they divide their time between homes in South Tampa and Los Angeles, when they're not touring with the band. Miggs has three albums out and a fourth in the works.

In lieu of wedding gifts, the newlyweds suggested donations to PETA they have four dogs, the American Civil Liberties Union and Music in Schools Today.

"We want to start our own foundation," DeBartolo said.

"She's taught me so much about giving," Miggs said.

Amy Scherzer can be reached at ascherzer@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3332.