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Songs Of Italy Internet Radio http://www.songsofitaly.com Classic Italian American Favorites From The Mid-20th Century Mon, 13 Jul 2009 18:00:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 Fast Talk Italian Audio Guide http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/08/21/fast-talk-italian-audio-guide/ http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/08/21/fast-talk-italian-audio-guide/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2008 18:49:58 +0000 admin http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/08/21/fast-talk-italian-audio-guide/
Fast Talk Italian (Audio Guide)

Fast Talk Italian (Audio Guide)

Fast Talk Audio French is a pocket-sized phrasebook and CD companion, packed with key phrases for short trips. Read, listen and make this your best break yet with this essential language guide for short trips.

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Welcome! http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/07/05/welcome/ http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/07/05/welcome/#comments Sun, 06 Jul 2008 03:14:35 +0000 admin http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/07/06/welcome/

Welcome to Songs Of Italy Internet Radio where you will hear classic Italian-American favorites from the mid-20th century including artists such as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, Louis Prima, Lou Monte, Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett, Sophia Loren plus many others.

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Vic Damone http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/vic-damone/ http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/vic-damone/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2008 16:47:08 +0000 admin http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/vic-damone/ Vic Damone

One of the prototypical Italian-American crooners, Vic Damone parlayed a smooth, mellow baritone into big-time pop stardom during the ’40s and ’50s. Early in his career, his inflection and phrasing were clearly indebted to Frank Sinatra, who once famously called him “the best set of pipes in the business.” Overall, though, Damone’s style was softer than Sinatra’s and owed less to the elasticity of jazz, especially since he was a solo performer who never served an apprenticeship with a swing orchestra. Very much the heartthrob in his heyday, his repertoire relied heavily on romantic ballads, though he did sprinkle in the occasional pop novelty or Italian folk song. He managed a parallel career as a film actor and, later, a TV variety host, and remained an active nightclub performer for decades after he disappeared from the charts.

Damone was born Vito Rocca Farinola in Brooklyn, NY, on June 12, 1928. His mother was a piano teacher and his father an electrician who also sang and played guitar, but it was Sinatra who provided his first musical awakening, and inspired him to start voice lessons. His first performances came in a youth choir and at school events. When his father was seriously injured in a work accident, young Vic was forced to drop out of school to help support the family, and got a job at the Paramount Theater in Manhattan as an usher and elevator operator. One night, while taking Perry Como up to his dressing room, Vic gave an impromptu performance and asked the singer if he had any talent; Como encouraged him, referred him to a local bandleader, and became something of a mentor to him.

Adopting his mother’s maiden name, Damone won first place on the Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts show in 1947, which led to regular professional gigs on local radio. While on the set of the show, he also met Milton Berle, who helped him get gigs at the prominent nightclubs La Martinique and the Aquarium. All the attention landed the 19-year-old Damone a record deal with Mercury in fairly short order. His debut single, “I Have But One Heart,” sold well, and the follow-ups, “You Do” and the Patti Page duet “Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart,” were also successful. He began hosting his own radio show, Saturday Night Serenade, and played big New York venues like the Copa and the Paramount (where he’d once worked).

Damone scored his first runaway smash in 1949 with “Again,” and followed it with the similarly successful “You’re Breaking My Heart”; both singles sold over a million copies. A steady stream of new releases followed through 1950, with the biggest including “Vagabond Shoes,” the Top Ten “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena” (a cover of the Weavers’ adaptation of an Israeli folk song), “Cincinnati Dancing Pig,” and the Top Five “My Heart Cries for You.” The following year, he signed a film contract with MGM and appeared in two movies, The Strip and the musical Rich, Young and Pretty. He also returned to the Top Five with a version of Guy Mitchell’s “My Truly, Truly Fair.” However, he was drafted into the military late that year, and served through 1953. Mercury continued to issue previously recorded material during Damone’s tour of duty, and in that time, he hit the Top Ten with “Here in My Heart” (a cover of Al Martino’s debut smash), Les Baxter’s “April in Portugal,” and “Ebb Tide”; he also found some success with the Charlie Chaplin-penned “Eternally.”

When Damone returned from the military, he resumed his film career and married actress Pier Angeli; over the next two years, he appeared in the likes of Athena, Deep in My Heart, Kismet, and Hit the Deck, as well as guesting on Berle’s TV show. However, his run of hit singles was coasting to a stop, and when Mercury dropped him, he followed his former A&R man Mitch Miller to Columbia. In 1956, Damone overcame the advent of rock & roll to score a number four pop hit with the My Fair Lady tune “On the Street Where You Live.” That year, he also issued his first proper 12″ LP, That Towering Feeling!, which reached the Top 20 (all his previous LPs had been 10″s or movie soundtracks). Outside of the musical arena, Damone appeared in another film, Meet Me in Las Vegas, and landed the first of what would prove to be several variety-show hosting gigs; this initial TV series, The Vic Damone Show, lasted from 1956-1957. Unfortunately, his marriage to Angeli broke up in 1958.

Damone was initially able to dodge the rock & roll bullet, but his career momentum soon ground to a near-halt. He had only one more Top 20 single, 1957′s “An Affair to Remember (Our Love Affair),” and he was slowly forced to try reinventing himself as an album artist and an interpretive singer for adult audiences. The consistency of his albums did improve, with the most notable result being 1961′s On the Swingin’ Side, but Columbia let Damone move over to Capitol afterward. Hoping that Damone could ease some of the sting of losing Sinatra, Capitol coaxed some of the singer’s strongest LPs out of him, including 1962′s romantic Linger Awhile With Vic Damone and The Lively Ones. Both charted in the Top 100, but failed to win the audience of, for example, latter-day Sinatra. Damone moved on to Warner Brothers for a one-off album, You Were Only Fooling, in 1965; its title cut gave Damone a last hurrah on the singles charts.

Damone next moved on to RCA and made a few recordings in the late ’60s, but by this time he was primarily a TV personality and frequent variety-show guest. He staged a major concert in Las Vegas in 1971, where he became a regular on the casino circuit; this helped him iron out some financial problems that resulted in a brief period of bankruptcy in the early ’70s. Damone subsequently enjoyed a steady career touring nightclubs and casinos around the country, and experienced something of a renaissance in the U.K. during the early ’80s. He capitalized with extensive touring there, and also cut a few new albums for RCA during the first half of the decade. In 1987, he married actress Diahann Carroll (his fourth wife), which lasted until 1996. In addition to his live performances, he continued to record occasionally as well.

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Tony Bennett http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/tony-bennett/ http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/tony-bennett/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2008 16:24:16 +0000 admin http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/tony-bennett/ Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett is an artist who moves the hearts and touches the souls of audiences. He’s the singer’s singer and has received high praise from his colleagues through the years, including Frank Sinatra who stated unequivocally, “Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business.” He is an international treasure who was honored by the United Nations with their “Citizen of the World” award, which aptly describes the scope of his accomplishments.

The son of a grocer and Italian-born immigrant, Anthony Dominick Benedetto was born on August 3, 1926, in the Astoria section of Queens. He attended the High School of Industrial Arts in Manhattan, where he continued nurturing his two passions — singing and painting. His boyhood idols included Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, both big influences on Bennett’s easy, natural singing style. Tony sang while waiting tables as a teenager then performed with military bands during his Army enlistment in World War II. He later had vocal studies at the American Theatre Wing School. The first time Bennett sang in a nightclub was 1946 when he sat in with trombonist Tyree Glenn at the Shangri-La in Astoria.

Bennett’s big break came in 1949 when comedian Bob Hope noticed him working with Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village in New York City. As Bennett recalls, “Bob Hope came down to check out my act. He liked my singing so much that after the show he came back to see me in my dressing room and said, ‘Come on kid, you’re going to come to the Paramount and sing with me.’ But first he told me he didn’t care for my stage name (Joe Bari) and asked me what my real name was. I told him, ‘My name is Anthony Dominick Benedetto,’ and he said, ‘We’ll call you Tony Bennett.’ And that’s how it happened. A new Americanized name, the start of a wonderful career and a glorious adventure that has continued for fifty years.”

With over 50 million records sold world-wide and platinum and gold albums to his credit, Bennett has received fifteen Grammy Awards including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The MTV generation first took Tony Bennett to heart during his appearance with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the 1993 MTV Video Awards ceremony. He appeared on “MTV Unplugged” and the resulting recording of the same name garnered the singer Grammy’s top award, “Album of the Year.” “Tony Bennett has not just bridged the generation gap,” pointed out The New York Times, “he has demolished it. He has solidly connected with a younger crowd weaned on rock. And there have been no compromises.” Bennett credits his son and manager, Danny, for his success in capturing a whole new generation of listeners.

His initial successes came via a string of Columbia singles in the early 1950′s, including such chart-toppers as “Because of You,” “Rags To Riches” and a remake of Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart.” He had 24 songs in the Top 40, including “I Wanna Be Around,” “The Good Life,” “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)” and his signature song, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” which garnered him two Grammy Awards. Tony Bennett is one of a handful of artists to have new albums charting in the 50′s, 60′s, 70′s, 80′s, 90′s and beyond. He introduced a multitude of songs into the Great American Songbook that have since become standards for pop music. He has toured the world to sold out audiences with rave reviews whenever he performs. Bennett re-signed with Columbia Records in 1986 and released the critically acclaimed The Art Of Excellence. Since his 1991 show-stopping performance at the Grammy Awards of “When Do The Bells Ring For Me,” from his Astoria album, he has received a string of Grammy Awards for releases including Steppin’ Out, Perfectly Frank, and MTV Unplugged.
Tony Bennett became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2005, was named an NEA Jazz Master in January of 2006, and has just been named this year’s recipient of Billboard Magazine’s prestigious Century Award, in honor of his outstanding contributions to music. He was won two Emmy Awards and a Cable Ace Award.

Tony Bennett is a dedicated painter whose interest in art began as a child. He continues to paint every day, even while touring internationally. He has exhibited his work in galleries around the world and he was chosen to be the official artist of the 2001 Kentucky Derby and created two original paintings celebrating this historic event. The United Nations has commissioned him for two paintings, including one for their 50th anniversary. His original painting “Homage to Hockney” is on permanent display at the Butler Institute of American Art and the landmark National Arts Club in New York is home to his painting, “Boy on Sailboat, Sydney Bay.” Most recently his oil painting, entitled, “Central Park,” was accepted to the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum’s permanent collection in Washington, DC.

Throughout his career, Tony Bennett has always put his heart and time into humanitarian concerns. He has raised millions of dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, which established a research fund in his name. His original paintings each year grace the cover of the American Cancer Society’s annual holiday greeting card, proceeds from which are earmarked for cancer research. He is active in environmental concerns and has performed at fundraisers for both the Walden Woods Foundation and the Save the Rainforest Foundation. The Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta bestowed upon him their “Salute to Greatness Award” for his efforts to fight discrimination. He conceived and spearheaded the effort to honor his great friend with the establishment of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, which opened its doors as a New York City public high school offering an extensive arts curriculum in September of 2001. With his wife Susan, they established EXPLORING THE ARTS to support and fund arts education in the public schools. The United Nations presented him with their 2007 Humanitarian Award earlier this year.

In the 1950′s, thousands of screaming bobby-soxers surrounded the Paramount Theatre in New York, held back only by police barricades, to see their singing idol Tony Bennett. Today the children and grandchildren of those fans are enjoying the same experience. Perhaps what sums up Tony’s legacy and longevity best was the observation The New York Times made in a review of “MTV Unplugged”: “What accounts for the Bennett magic? Artistry certainly. The repertory is indeed classic…. But perhaps more important is his ability to convey a sense of joy, of utter satisfaction, in what he is doing.”

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The Rat Pack http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/the-rat-pack/ http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/the-rat-pack/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2008 15:50:09 +0000 admin http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/the-rat-pack/ Rat Pack

The so-called Rat Pack wasn’t a group in the normal sense, but consisted of a loose confederation of actors, comedians, and singers lumped together by the media under that

name in the early ’60s. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford formed the core of the Rat Pack, and they appeared together in several movies, including Robin and the Seven Hoods and the original Ocean’s Eleven.

Sinatra, Davis, and Martin, the singing contingent of the group, all managed long individual careers in the recording industry, and would occasionally band together to do nightclub concerts, frequently in Las Vegas, that were equal parts comedy and music, and heavy on caricature, playing off of the trio’s huge public personas. Several of these shows have been released on CD, VHS, and DVD under various titles, and while they conjure a kind of emblematic nostalgia for a particular time and place in the mythic 1960s (a time when a martini and a tux were seemingly all you really needed), Davis, Sinatra, and Martin are musically much better served by the material on their individual albums.

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The Hilltoppers http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/the-hilltoppers/ http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/the-hilltoppers/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2008 15:33:09 +0000 admin http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/the-hilltoppers/ The Hilltoppers

The Hilltoppers, had a very inauspicious beginning. They began as a vocal trio with the members being Jimmy Sacca, Seymour Spiegelman, and Donald McGuire who were students at Western Kentucky University in the town of Bowling Green. One of Sacca’s acquaintances was a pianist in a territory band in the area named Billy Vaughn. A song written by Vaughn was given a run through by the trio, and through various rehearsals Vaughn himself was added to the vocal mix and the trio was now a quartet. As the story goes, the guys gathered around a piano in the corner of the campus auditorium at something like one a.m. on a spring night in 1952 and tape recorded the new song called “Trying”. The tape was then given to a local radio deejay who liked the tune and soon got in touch with Randy Wood the head of Dot Records in suburban Nashville, Tennessee. Wood listened to the tape and was duly impressed and signed the quartet to his label. The group then took their name from the Western Kentucky University athletic teams nickname, The Hilltoppers.

Dot Records released “Trying” on #15018 in late May and it got very little reaction at first. The boys were thinking about what to do for a second release when the record started to sell, initially breaking big in Cleveland from plays on station WERE. Soon other parts of the Midwest were following and Dot Records and The Hilltoppers were in the midst of a breakout hit. The syllable bending intro to the song presented an immediate ‘hook’ that caught the listener’s ear and provided an identifiable sound that caught on. The record hit the national charts in mid-August and remained there for much of the rest of the year. The record was a solid top ten hit and sold more than 750,000 copies for Dot. Late in the year The Hilltoppers second release for Dot was issued – “I Keep Telling Myself” and “Must I Cry Again” on #15034. This time both sides of the record hit the national charts although not nearly as dominant as the initial record. During January of 1953, “Must I” got into the top fifteen best sellers, while the flip side charted as high as number 26 in the country. Neither side had the staying power of “Trying” however, and the next Dot release “If I Were King” was on the national charts for only one week at number 22, and then dropped from sight.

In May of 1953 The Hilltoppers were in the recording studio to pile up a number of tunes to carry them through Jimmy Sacca’s military service (courtesy of the draft). In June the next Dot Records release on #15085 hit the radio stations and record stores. “P.S. I Love You” and “I’d Rather Die Young” provided a huge double sided hit for the group. “P.S. I Love You” (not to be confused with The Beatles tune from a decade later) was written by Johnny Mercer in the mid thirties, and provided Sacca with a great tune for his style of vocal delivery which overcame some sugary and sentimental lyrics. The tune was performed with a strong rhythm guitar accompaniment and tight harmonies by the group. The flip side “I’d Rather Die Young”, was a country type weeper in waltz time and was again a featured showcase for the vocal style of Jimmy Sacca. The chart performance by this record was tremendous, with both sides getting into the top ten best sellers across the country and remaining on the charts for more than five months. It sold well over a million copies for Dot Records and made The Hilltoppers a top popular music act in the early fifties.

The group returned on the next record with another two sided top ten hit, although not as dominating as the previous release had been. “Love Walked In” the pop standard from the motion picture “The Goldwyn Follies” and “To Be Alone” on Dot #15105, both reached as high as the number eight position on the charts and the record had a chart life of close to three months. The year 1954 was a big one for The Hilltoppers. No sooner had the sales and airplay for “Love Walked In” begun to fade when Dot #15127 was released and began to take off. “Time Will Tell” and “From The Vine Came The Grape” provided another two sided charter. “Vine” was the much more successful of the two, getting into the top ten and remaining on the best sellers list for two and a half months. “Alone” and “You’re All That I Need” on #15130 did almost nothing nationally, but #15132 featured the group’s take on a previous hit for The Mills Brothers called “Till Then”. This turned out to be another solid hit getting into the top ten and staying for three months throughout the spring of 1954. The flip side also got some airplay despite being almost a replay of “I’d rather Die Young”. This one was called “I Found Your Letter” and again it was a country styled weeper in waltz time. “Poor Butterfly” on #15156 was next for the guys and it was a solid hit barely missing the coveted top ten best sellers. By now the lead singing of Jimmy Sacca had provided The Hilltoppers with one of the more identifiable sounds of pop music of the early fifties.

Dot #15163 paired “Mansion On The Hill” and “Alone With My Heart” which sunk without a trace, but “Sweetheart” on #15201 charted briefly during the summer. “At Sundown” was another Dot release that didn’t do much, but the group’s version of the Inkspots classic “If I Didn’t Care” was better received breaking into the top twenty in August of that year. By now the rock ‘n’ roll revolution was under way and the Hilltoppers were one of the many pop performers trying to stay afloat in this sea of changing styles. The final Dot release of 1954 “Time Waits For No One” (from the film “Shine On Harvest Moon”) also charted briefly at number 25 late in the year. The first Dot record out in 1955 was the immediately forgettable “Frivolette”. By now Jimmy Sacca was back from military service, while two other members (Spiegelman and McGuire) now were called, and so the personnel of the Hiltoppers was changing.The group also took note of the state of pop music and its trends of the times, and the result was Dot#15351, a cover of the R & B group The Cardinals hit ballad, “The Door Is Still Open”. Sacca showed that he could do a credible job on a blues ballad and the record did quite well. “The Kentuckian Song” seemed a natural for the former WKU guys as they did a turn on the title tune from the Burt Lancaster film. The release on Dot #15375 managed to hit the top twenty in mid 1955.

By now Dot Records became the home of the cover records with Pat Boone and Gale Storm, and so The Hilltoppers continued this trend. “Searchin’” was released on Dot #15415 to little success, but the group’s cover of The Platters “Only You” on #15423 was a big smash getting into the top ten best sellers in November of 1955 and spent more than three months on the charts closing out the year for Dot Records. Success eluded The Hilltoppers for the next year as subsequent releases did not chart, sell in great numbers, or be featured on radio. “My Treasure” (#15437) made a quick one week appearance at number 31, but “When You’re Alone” and a try at teenage listeners called “Do The Bop” on #15451, “Faded Rose” (#15459), “Eyes Of Fire Lips Of Wine” (#15468), a cover of the G-Clefs “Ka-Ding Dong” (#15489), and “No Regrets” on #15511 all did little. The next release for Dot however, provided a sudden change in the fortunes of the group.

In 1957 pop music experienced a calypso trend begun by Harry Belafonte and aided by folk music groups such as The Kingston Trio, The Tarriers (with Vince Martin), and The Easy Riders (with Terry Gilkyson). It was just such a tune by The Easy Riders called “Marianne” that The Hilltoppers recorded for Dot #15537 and resulted in the biggest chart success of their career. This record coincided with the return of previous members Spiegelman and McGuire (by now Billy Vaughn had left the group to concentrate on production for Dot Records, plus his own successful recording career as a producer and leader of an instrumental orchestra also for Dot).The recording of “Marianne” was a four month charter and got to the number three position in the country. After a few more records that did little on the pop charts (“I’m Serious” on#15560, “A Fallen Star” on #15594, and “My Cabin Of Dreams” on #15626), The Hilltoppers charted for the last time at the end of the year in 1957 with a cover of Billy Myles Ember release “The Joker” with a strong vocal by Jimmy Sacca. The record on Dot #15662 got into the top twenty five and remained on the charts for a month.

After their last chart hit in 1957, most of the output for Dot Records by The Hilltoppers in the late fifties and early sixties were remakes and re-releases of their earlier hits. The group was a mainstay at Dot Records for twelve years calling it over in 1963. A reformed Hilltoppers in the early seventies made two records for MGM and remade their biggest hits on two records for ABC Paramount in 1974 and continued to perform until quitting for good in late 1975. This ended nearly a quarter century association of pop music by one of the premier acts in the field from the pre-rock fifties, and beyond. The Hilltoppers musical legacy is an important part of American musical history.

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The Gaylords http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/the-gaylords/ http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/the-gaylords/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2008 15:12:12 +0000 admin http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/10/the-gaylords/ The Gaylords

Back in the late 1940s in the east side of Detroit, Michigan, three young neighborhood teenagers met and discussed their love of music and their own dreams of someday becoming part of that profession. They got together through their association with a CYO youth group at Our Lady of Sorrows church. After high school they all entered the University of Detroit. The three members were Ron Fredianelli, Burt Bonaldi, and Don Rea. They formalized their trio in 1949 and called themselves The Gay Lords. At one of their very first professional appearances, local advertising for the trio made their name into one word and the three liked the look of that even better, and so from that point on they were known as The Gaylords. By early 1952 they felt that they were ready to put their voices on record and made a private recording of a song that they were working on called “Tell Me You’re Mine” which was derived from an Italian tune that they were familiar with (“Per Un Bacio d’ Amore”). One of the technicians at the recording studio thought that the tune and the trio had promise, and through his efforts they were put in touch with Chicago based Mercury Records.

In late 1952 Mercury recorded the Gaylords singing their tune “Tell Me You’re Mine” / “Cuban Love Song” on #70030, and by December of the year it began to sell in a big way. The record turned out to be a huge hit across the country with a stay on the best seller charts for five and a half months and getting to the number two position on the hit parade held out of the top spot only by Perry Como’s “Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes”. This first recording by the threesome eventually sold more than one million copies earning them a gold record. By the time the spring of 1953 arrived The Gaylords had their second Mercury release out, again accompanied by the “orchestra” of Ronnie Vincent (in reality Fredianelli) – “Ramona” the old romantic standard, and “Spinning A Web” on #70112. Both sides shot into the top fifteen sellers with Ramona getting the most of the sales and remaining on the pop charts for more than two months.

By mid 1953 The Gaylords were a top pop music act on records and many club appearances were now forthcoming. However the next two Mercury records were not successful – “My Heart Is Free Again” / “I Won’t Believe It” on #70131, and “Tell Me You Love Me” / “Coquette” on #70170. In December of the year “The Strings of My Heart” (“Mama Papa Polka” on the flip side) was a decent seller for the group. It followed their formula of singing part of the lyrics in Italian which became their signature style. “Strings” was a top twenty hit carrying into 1954. “Sweet Sue” and “Wonderin’ ” on #70235, and “Stolen Moments” on #70286 did not do well, but it was a song introduced on the Steve Allen television show “Songs For Sale” that proved to be a winner. The song “From The Vine Came The Grape” recorded with the George Annis Orchestra was a solid hit climbing into the top ten and remaining a hit for over three months as The Gaylords continued to make their mark on the pop music scene of the early fifties. At this time there was a change in the trio as Fredianelli entered the U.S. Army and his place was taken by Bill Christ. Fredianelli would soon change his name professionally to Ronnie Gaylord and record for Mercury as a solo artist.

The Gaylords continued on with another hit that spring, scoring once more with a two sided best seller. Mercury #70350 was released containing the songs “Isle of Capri” / “Love I You (You I Love)” that was on the charts for three months. “Capri” was a top fifteen seller and the flip side got into the top twenty five. The trio came right back during the summer with another record that had both sides make the best sellers. “Mecque Mecque” charted briefly, but the other side “The Little Shoemaker” (#70403) was a huge hit nationally, again kept out of the number one spot by one other record – “You You You” by The Ames Brothers. Five months on the best seller list for The Gaylords as they continued to be hit makers. The trio had one more charted record for Mercury late in the year on #70427 – “Veni-Vidi-Vici” was a top thirty seller for the group as the rock ‘n roll age was upon the world of pop music. “A Kiss To Call My Own” was on the flip side of the record.

Although they did not make the national pop charts again, The Gaylords continued to record for Mercury. “Pipalina” / “Wonderful Lips” on #70479, “Giuseppe Mandolino” / “By The waters of Minnetonka” on #70495, “Chow Mein” on #70543, and “My Babe” / “Woodpecker Song” on #70586 followed. On Mercury #70589 The Gaylords record two cover songs – Lenny Dee’s “Plantation Boogie” and Bill Haley’s “Mambo Rock”. Now in the mid fifties in the teeth of the rock age The Gaylords continued with “Who’s Got The Pain” / “Chee Chee-oo Chee” on #70630, “Happy Time Medley” on #70660, “No Arms Can Ever Hold You” / “Bring Me A Bluebird” on #70706, “Molly-O” / “Vino Vino” on #70778, and “One Night Only” on #70891. Although the tastes of American record buyers had changed greatly by the late 1950s, and now the majority of 45 rpm singles were purchased by teenaged girls, The Gaylords and Mercury Records continued to provide music of their style.

Into the early nineteen sixties the music continued. “Mountain Climber” on #70979, “The Dum-De-Dum Song” / “Open The Letter” on #71051, “Satin Doll” / “Wondering Hearts” on #71186, “Oh Marie” / “The Magic Song” on #71236, “Each Time I Love You More” on #71265, “Buena Sera” on #71337″, I’m Longing For Love” / “Flamingo d’Amor” on #71369, and, “How About Me?” / “Again” on #71399 were released. By this time Mercury had also released 45 extended play mini albums (EPs) such as “On The Town” (#3190), “Sing Along With The Gaylords”, “The Gaylords Sing By Request” (#3263), and “Italian Memories”. In the more popular LP format Mercury presented “Let’s Have A Pizza Party” (#20356), “American Favorites In Italian” (#20620), “At The Shamrock” (#20695), “That’s Amore” (#20430), and “Italiano Favorites”. And the singles continued – “Homing Pigeon” on #71450, “Jesse James” / “The Shovel” on #71503, “The Whip Of The Wind” on #71601, “Born To Be Loved” on #71762, “Oh Lonesome Me” on #71832, and “Two Ton Tessie” on #719970. Now it was the mid sixties and the time had come for the Gaylords to call it a career as a pop music trio. So that was the end of Bonaldi, Rea, and Christ, after thirteen years of music and the steadfast loyalty of Mercury Records. That was not the last chapter of the story of The Gaylords however, as that wonderful and creative trait called re-invention was about to take place and become part two of the story.

Ron Fredianelli had left the trio after being drafted in the army and while in uniform decided to pursue his musical career as a solo performer and for this purpose changed his name professionally to honor the trio and became known as Ronnie Gaylord. Mercury Records followed suit and signed him to the label as a single artist. His first releases were not that successful, including “I Won’t Believe You” and “My Heart Is Free” on Mercury #70131, and “Just In case You Change Your Mind” and “Marcheta” on #70212. But in early 1954 with the release of “Cuddle Me” on #70285 recorded with the orchestra of David Carroll, Ronnie had his hit record as a solo singer. The flip side of the record was a song called “Am I Lonely?”. His solo effort was a mainstay on the hit charts for four months and charted as high as number thirteen in the nation. It was a nice enough accomplishment for Ronnie Gaylord to highlight his talent even though no other solo efforts would do as well. Other solo efforts by Ronnie for Mercury were “Oh Love Of Mine” / “Wow” on #70378, “Don’t You Forget About Me” / “I’m No Gonna Say” on #70425, “Bring My baby Back To Me” on #70471.”You” and a cover of Johnny Ace’s “Pledging My Love” on #70551, and “Be My Baby Do” / “Prize Of Gold” on #70585. Ronnie Gaylord also had some recordings released on Mercury Records subsidiary label Wing. Some of these are “Che (Que) Sera Sera” and a cover of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame” on Wing #9000, “More And More” / “Gina” on #90018, “Through The Years” / “Don’t Ever Change” on #90034, and “To Be Beside You” / “Do You Know Where God Lives” on #90057. There was also a Mercury EP called “Ronnie Gaylord Entertains”. Gaylord also recorded for the Kapp Records label with a cover of Billy Myles “The Joker” on #158, and “Down The Road Of Love” and “Signora Fortuna” on #167.

Then in the mid nineteen sixties while the British Invasion, Motown, Phil Spector, and the California Sound ruled pop music, the Gaylords reappeared. Burt Bonaldi had decided to change his name professionally to Burt Holiday and soon after reunited with Ronnie to form a duo they called Gaylord & Holiday, but also appeared billed as The Gaylords. By the nineteen seventies they had moved to Nevada where they became mainstays of the Las Vegas entertainment empire. As the duo they had a minor hit with Julius LaRosa’s 1950s Italian novelty “Eh Cumpari” coupled with a remake of “The Little Shoemaker” for Prodigal Records. They also recorded an LP for that label called “Second Generation”. The twosome also released LPs for their own Gaylords label – “Mama” in 1977 and “Pieces Of Gold” in 1982. They also recorded LP albums for the Natural Resources label with “Wine Women, and Song” and “Did You Ever”. The duo continued to perform regularly into the new millennium. Ronnie Gaylord (Fredianelli) passed away in January of 2004, while Burt Holiday (Bonaldi) still performs as a solo, or sometimes with Ron Jr. as The Gaylords keeping the name alive after fifty five years of performing.

The music of The Gaylords lives on in a number of CDs that are available. The single most important and valuable resource is the Polygram album called “The Gaylords : The Mercury Years”. This CD has 25 tracks of their best and most noteworthy songs plus Ronnie’s solo hit “Cuddle Me”. Other CDs by The Gaylords include “All Time Greatest Hits” for Our Heritage, “Christmas With The Gaylords” and “Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2″ both for AEM, and “Famiglia” for Overture. Burt Holiday as a solo performer has “Music Laughter and Songs” for Over Eazy, Ronnie Gaylord as a solo performer has “Greatest Hits” and “Ronnie Gaylord Live” both for Over Eazy in 1997.

And so for more than a half century the music of The Gaylords has been a part of that wonderful time during the late forties and early fifties that we call the Interlude Era. We remember their music and celebrate them as part of the time of our lives.

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Sophia Loren http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/04/sophia-loren/ http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/04/sophia-loren/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2008 16:19:32 +0000 admin http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/04/sophia-loren/ Sophia Loren

(born September 20, 1934, Rome, Italy) Italian film actress who rose above her poverty-stricken origins in postwar Naples to become universally recognized as one of Italy’s most beautiful women and its most famous movie star.

Before working in the cinema, Sofia Scicolone changed her name to Sofia Lazzaro for work in the foto-romanzo, popular pulp magazines that used still photographs to depict romantic stories. Her first film role was as an extra, one of many slave girls in the American production of Quo Vadis? (1951). Under the tutelage of producer Carlo Ponti (her future husband), Sofia Scicolone was transformed into Sophia Loren. Her career was launched in a series of low-budget comedies before she attracted critical and popular attention with Aida (1953), in which she lip-synched the singing of Renata Tebaldi in the title role.

Loren’s beauty often overshadowed her enormous talents as an actress, but her earthy charisma is evident even in such early works as Vittorio De Sica’s L’oro di Napoli (1954; The Gold of Naples). With Ponti’s help, Loren increased her international visibility by appearing in Hollywood films opposite such major stars as Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra, Alan Ladd, William Holden, and Paul Newman. Such exposure was undoubtedly instrumental in helping her win an Oscar for best actress in De Sica’s La ciociara (1961; Two Women), in which she delivered a powerful performance as the courageous mother of a teenage girl during World War II.

Two other De Sica films showcased her comic talents and paired her with another Italian film icon, Marcello Mastroianni: Ieri, oggi, domani (1963; Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow), a film that earned an Oscar for best foreign film; and Matrimonio all’italiana (1964; Marriage, Italian Style). The best performance of her late career, again with Mastroianni, was for director Ettore Scola in Una giornata particolare (1977, A Special Day). International recognition for Loren’s distinguished acting career includes a lifetime achievement Oscar in 1991 and a career Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival in 1998. She also made headlines in the 1990s for her strong defense of animal rights.

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Sergio Franchi http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/04/sergio-franchi/ http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/04/sergio-franchi/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2008 15:21:13 +0000 admin http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/04/sergio-franchi/ Sergio Franchi

Italo-American singer Sergio Franchi was much more than an entertainer; yet it was as an entertainer that he was known to the wide public, with a voice that was equal to Mario Lanza in beauty and phrasing. Amercian show business got hold of him, but Franchi had years of classical training behind him and did perform opera on stage before he was launched into stardom in the US.

He was born in Cremona, Italy, on 6 April 1926 and made his first concert at the age of ten at his school in Cremona. Upon his father’s wish he studied to become an electrical engineer, but he kept receiving private music lessons and after his graduation he focused on a professional career as a singer. When the family emigrated to South Africa (Johannesburg) in 1952, he found work as a part-time draftsman, but kept working on his vocal skills. He was soon invited to sing the leading tenor roles in a number of operettas, among them The Gypsy Baron, New Moon, The Vagabond King and Die Fledermaus. One night in 1954 he was overheard by South Africa’s foremost impressario, Alex Cernaiavsky, who obviously impressed with the singer immediately signed him to appear in La Traviata, Madama Butterfly, Carmen, Rigoletto and La Bohème, touring the major cities of South Africa.

Franchi shall have met Beniamino Gigli while on tour in South Africa.1 Enthusiastic about the young tenor’s voice, he encouraged him to further his vocal studies and Franchi eventually returned to Italy and Milano for studies with Rossi Massetti, a reputable singing pedagogue. Three months later he made his Italian debut as Cavaradossi in Tosca in his native Cremona.

Yet Sergio Franchi did not pursue an operatic career. Instead he toured the Continent giving concerts and it was during a British television program, Sunday Night at the Palladium, in March 1962, that his career would take a radical turn. Conductor Norman Luboff was so impressed with Franchi that he had him record two selections that were sent to RCA Victor in the US. He was immediately signed and recorded several Italian romantic songs under conductor Wally Scott for the RCA label, the first LP to be released in 1962 and Franchi was launched as “The Brilliant New Tenor From Italy.”2 Producer and presenter Solomon Huruk engaged him for a tour in the US in 1962-63. In 1963 he also recorded the only operatic recording in his career, the role of Alfred in Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, in English, and with Anna Moffo, Risë Stevens, Richard Lewis and George London, at the Vienna State Opera.3 He also recorded the album The Dream Duet with Anna Moffo.

Sergio Franchi, practically unknown when he first came to the US, became an overnight sensation and throughout the 1960s he sang in prestigious clubs in the US, the most prominent of these being the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles. A number of the most popular television shows were lining up to have him, among them The Ed Sullivan Show and The Red Skelton Show. In-between numerous sold-out concerts he also appeared at Broadway in 1965 in Rodger and Sondheim’s “Do I Hear a Waltz?” which was also recorded in studio the same year.

In 1969 he also crossed over to the movies and starred in Stanley Kramer’s comedy The Secret of Santa Vittoria, with Anthony Quinn and Anna Magnani, and where Franchi played the role of the soldier Tufa. In 1969 he was also signed for a two year engagement at the popular Flamingo Room in Las Vegas.

Throughout the 1970s and the 1980s he mostly performed in the US, appearing in popular TV shows like The Ed Sullivan Show and giving a number of concerts. He became an American citizen in 1972.

He succumbed to cancer on 1 May 1990. After his death, his widow Eva has organized an annual vocal seminar and scholarship for young and aspiring singers, the Sergio Franchi Music Foundation, in function since 1993. Franchi himself was also an ardent supporter of the arts and various charitable organizations directed towards his Italian heritage, such as Boy’s Town4 in Italy, the National Italian American Foundation). For his efforts he received the highest award from Boy’s Town, the Michelangelo Award, and the title of Cavaliere (Stella al merito del lavoro) from the Government of Italy posthumously in 2001.

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Rosemary Clooney http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/04/rosemary-clooney/ http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/04/rosemary-clooney/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2008 14:35:01 +0000 admin http://www.songsofitaly.com/2008/06/04/rosemary-clooney/ Rosemary Clooney

Born May 23, 1928, in Maysville, Kentucky. The distinctively unpretentious, deep, rich, and smooth voice of Rosemary Clooney earned her recognition as one of America’s premiere pop and jazz singers. According to Clooney’s record company press biography, Life magazine, in a tribute to America’s “girl singers” named her one of “six preeminent singers … whose performances are living displays of a precious national treasure … their recordings a preservation of jewels.” First-class crooner Frank Sinatra stated, as was also reprinted in Clooney’s press biography, “Rosemary Clooney has that great talent which exudes warmth and feeling in every song she sings. She’s a symbol of good modern American music.”

The singer noted for her decades-long mastery of American popular song started life amid the poverty of small-town Maysville. Her childhood was a difficult one; Clooney and younger siblings Betty and Nick were shuttled among their alcoholic father, Andy, their mother, Frances—who traveled constantly for her work with a chain of dress shops—and relatives, who would take turns raising the children. When Clooney was 13 her mother moved to California to marry a sailor, taking Nick with her but leaving the girls behind. Her father tried to care for Rosemary and Betty, working steadily at a defense plant, but he left one night to celebrate the end of World War II—taking the household money with him—and never returned. As Clooney described in her autobiography, This for Remembrance, she and Betty were left to fend for themselves. They collected soda bottles and bought meals at school with the refund money. The phone had been disconnected, the utilities were about to be turned off, and the rent was overdue when Rosemary and Betty won an open singing audition at a Cincinnati radio station. The girls were so impressive, in fact, that they were hired for a regular late-night spot at $20 a week each. “The Clooney Sisters,” as they became known, began their singing career in 1945 on WLW in Cincinnati.

This work brought them to the attention of bandleader Tony Pastor, who happened to be passing through Ohio. In 1945 The Clooney Sisters joined Pastor’s orchestra. They toured with Pastor as featured singers until 1948, at which point Betty decided to return to Cincinnati and her radio career. Rosemary continued as a solo vocalist with Tony Pastor for another year. Then, in 1949, deciding she needed to expand her professional career, she left the band; at age 21 Clooney struck out on her own and headed for New York City.

Enlistment in World War II and the draft drastically depleted the personnel of most bands, creating the need for orchestras to highlight a charismatic singer. After the war, singers who had stolen the limelight from bands became even more indispensable as audiences increasingly came to demand them. Leaders of popular bands discovered and nurtured singers like Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dinah Washington and became associated in the public eye with their finds. Clooney’s arrival in New York was perfectly timed with the rage for orchestra-backed singers; she was immediately signed to a recording contract with Columbia Records. By then “girl singers,” as they came to be known—Kay Starr, Day, and Lee—were emerging as recording stars.

It was at Columbia that Clooney began an important association with Mitch Miller, one of the company’s A&R [Artists and Repertoire] representatives and top entertainers. In 1951 Miller convinced Clooney to record an oddball song, “Come On-a My House,” written by Ross Bagdasarian with lyrics by William Saroyan. When Miller first suggested the song, Clooney was highly skeptical, insisting the song was not her kind of material. She felt it was silly and demeaning; she believed the double-entendres were a cheap lyrical device and felt uncomfortable putting on an Italian accent. But Miller was persistent and finally persuaded Clooney to record “Come On-a My House.” He conceived a novel instrumental effect utilizing a harpsichord to accompany Clooney. Much to her surprise, the song was an immediate and enormous success, topping the charts to become a gold record. “Come On-a My House” made Rosemary Clooney a star. A household name, she became known simply as “Rosie.”

In the early 1950s radio made a strong bid to issue a challenge to the growing magnetism of television. Star-studded variety programs were created, and week after week Hollywood studios offered musical programs by big names. Clooney was signed to co-host, with beloved vocalist Bing Crosby, a songfest radio show, which aired every weekday morning on CBS radio. Film roles abounded; Clooney’s appearance in White Christmas was generally credited with the film’s enormous success, which made it the top grosser of 1954. Costarring with hot properties Kay and Crosby and accompanied by the music of Irving Berlin, Clooney was lauded for her performance, in which she sang the ballad “Love, You Didn’t Do Right by Me.”

As her popularity swelled, Clooney began a romance with dancer Dante Di Paolo, her co-star in the films Here Come the Girls and Red Garters. Nonetheless, to her friends’ and the public’s amazement, Clooney eloped in the summer of 1953 with Oscar-winning actor Jose Ferrer, 16 years her senior. “Rosie” and her whirlwind marriage became a favorite topic of the tabloid journals. Clooney and Ferrer moved into a glamorous Beverly Hills home once owned by composer George Gershwin and entertained with lavish poolside parties attended by the toast of Hollywood. Their first child was born in 1955 and by 1960, they had five children.

Clooney became the star of her own television series in 1956. The Rosemary Clooney Show, which ran through 1957, was syndicated to more than one hundred television stations. But by that time, Clooney had begun to feel the strain of stardom and her relentlessly hectic schedule. The pressure of raising five children while pursuing careers as a television, movie, radio, and recording star, coupled with the deteriorating state of her marriage, soon took its toll. Clooney developed an addiction to tranquilizers and sleeping pills. Although her life appeared idyllic to the public, the singer’s addiction to drugs worsened. Clooney and Ferrer divorced in 1961, reconciled for a few years, then divorced again in 1967. Recalling in her autobiography how she fell prey to “the ’50s myth of family and career,” the singer confessed, “I just did it all because I thought that I could, it certainly wasn’t easy.”

For Clooney, the world came crashing down in 1968. She was standing only yards away when her close friend Bobby Kennedy, then campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, was assassinated in Los Angeles at the Ambassador Hotel. The tragedy, compounded with her drug addiction, triggered a public mental collapse: At a Reno engagement she cursed at her audience and stalked off the stage. She later called a press conference to announce her retirement at which she sobbed incoherently. When a doctor was summoned, Clooney fled and was eventually found driving on the wrong side of a dangerous mountain road. Soon thereafter she admitted herself to the psychiatric ward of Mount Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Clooney remained in therapy for many years. She worked when she could—at Holiday Inns and small hotels like the Ventura and the Hawthorne and selling paper towels in television commercials.

In 1976 Clooney’s old friend Bing Crosby asked her to join him on his 50th anniversary tour. It would be Crosby’s final tour and Clooney’s comeback event. The highlight of the show came when Clooney joined Crosby in a duet of “On a Slow Boat to China.” The next year, Clooney signed a recording contract with Concord Jazz, taking the next step on her comeback trail—one that would produce a string of more than a dozen successful recordings, inaugurated with Everything’s Coming Up Rosie. “I’ll keep working as long as I live,” Clooney vowed in an interview with Lear’s magazine, “because singing has taken on the feeling of joy that I had when I started, when my only responsibility was to sing well. It’s even better now … I can even pick the songs. The arranger says to me, ‘How do you want it? How do you see it?’ Nobody ever asked me that before.”

Along with her renewed recording efforts, Clooney created a living memorial to her sister Betty, who died in 1976 from a brain aneurysm: the Betty Clooney Center in Long Beach, California, a facility for brain-injured young adults. The first of its kind in the U.S., the center is supported by grants and donations. After receiving the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal in 1992 in recognition of her contribution to American music, Clooney told the Washington Post, “It’s for showing up day after day, for small increments of time and achievement.” Claiming that singing has become her salvation, Clooney added, “I’m the only instrument that’s got the words, so I’ve got to be able to get that across.” As her top-selling jazz albums indicated, Clooney was still able to mesmerize audiences with her warmth, depth of feeling, honesty, and unsurpassed craft.

Rosemary saw her mission in life to simply be singing. She said, “I just would like to keep singing. As soon as I’m not singing well, I hope that I know it, so that I can get off the stage and leave what I have done. I hope I’ll know, and if I don’t, I hope somebody tells me.” Rosemary’s last performance was December 15, 2001 at the Count Basie Theatre in Redbank, NJ and she was still singing well.

In January of 2002, Rosemary underwent lung cancer surgery. She remained hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic until early May, at which time she was able to go home to Beverly Hills and share Mother’s Day and her birthday with her family, which includes, five children, ten grandchildren, brother and sister-in-law Nick and Nina Clooney, sister Gail Stone Darley and their and Betty’s children. She died on June 29, 2002.

Rosemary recorded 25 albums for Concord Jazz and maintained a busy touring schedule up until her cancer surgery in January 2002. In the year preceeding her death, she had toured in England, Dublin, Honolulu, New York City, and many cities in between.

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