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Saturday, 30 March 2013

Frankie Laine born 30 March 1913

Frankie Laine, born Francesco Paolo LoVecchio (Chicago, March 30, 1913 – San Diego, February 6, 2007), was a successful American musician, singer and songwriter whose career spanned 75 years, from his first concerts in 1930 with a marathon dance company to his final performance of "That's My Desire in 2005.

 Often billed as America's Number One Song Stylist, his other nicknames include Mr. Rhythm, Old Leather Lungs, and Old Man Jazz. His hits included "That's My Desire", "That Lucky Old Sun", "Mule Train", "Cry of the Wild Goose", "Jezebel", "High Noon", "I Believe", "Hey Joe!", "The Kid's Last Fight", "Cool Water", "Moonlight Gambler", "Love is a Golden Ring", "Rawhide", and "Lord, You Gave Me a Mountain".

Francesco Paolo LoVecchio was born March 30, 1913, the eldest of eight children of Sicilian immigrants who settled in the Little Italy neighborhood of Chicago. His father was a
barber whose customers included Al Capone; his maternal grandfather was the victim of a mob hit.

At 18, with the Depression under way and his father out of work, Laine hit the road as a dance marathoner. Altogether he participated in 14 marathons, coming in first on three occasions. He and his partner, Ruthie Smith, made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for dancing 145 days straight (although he disputed Guinness, saying he and Smith danced for 146 days). Laine would not hit it big until his mid-30s. In between, he would live the tough life of an undiscovered musician in the Depression. He traveled from city to city, often without
enough money for a hotel or a decent meal. Then he got a break: an audition at WINS radio station, where he got a $5-a-week job singing on a live half-hour show.

It was the program director at WINS who changed his name from Frank LoVecchio to Frankie Lane. (Laine added the "i" to avoid confusion with another singer with the same last name.) Years more of moving around, working other jobs and testing his talent brought him eventually to Los Angeles, where he hung out at clubs such as Slapsy Maxie's and Billy Berg's. It was at Billy Berg's that he met Duke Ellington, Art Tatum and many other legends. Eventually, Laine did get a chance to record a few songs for Mercury Records. He decided he wanted to do an old song he'd heard years ago, "That's My Desire," but he couldn't remember it well enough to sing it the way it was written, so he improvised. 

"Desire" was the song that proved the breakthrough for Laine, although it took almost a year. First it hit the so-called Harlem pop charts, which recorded sales to black record buyers. During 1947, "Desire" got more and more air play, even in Europe. By fall, Laine got his first royalty payment for the song: $36,000. He was 34. He was to become one of the most popular singers of the late 1940s and 1950s. Only Bing 
Crosby and Frank Sinatra sold more records. Other hits soon followed “Desire” including, Jezebel, Cool, Clear Water and Ghost Riders in the Sky.

Frankie's popularity quickly spread across the Atlantic. He performed in record-breaking engagements at the London Palladium, and had four UK number ones. His stirring rendition of I Believe topped the British charts in 1953, staying there for eighteen weeks in three separate spells, a performance that even The Beatles never matched.

Frankie Laine appeared in several films in the 1950s, including When You're Smiling and Sunny Side of the Street.

He was more successful, however, in singing the theme songs to films such as Rawhide, Blowing Wild and Blazing Saddles in 1974. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Laine worked mainly on the American cabaret circuit, though he also returned to the UK on a couple of occasions. ''I continually try to keep the voice up,'' he explained. ''You know what they say. If you don't use it, you lose it.''

Although Laine continued to tour, he was plagued with health problems and had quadruple bypass heart surgery in 1985. It didn't affect his performance and he still favoured songs with big endings. With the exception of Jazz Spectacular in 1956, Laine never concentrated on albums, but this changed in the 1980s, with albums like Country Laine (1987), which

included a beautiful, whimsical ballad, "She Never Could Dance", and New Directions (1988) among his best.

He kept performing, traveling widely with his wife, actress Nan Grey. After her death in 1993, he stayed closer to his home in San Diego, where the couple had lived since 1968. He was remarried in 1999, to Marcia Ann Kline.

He marked the ascendance of the popular singer over the big bands, and his amazing success set the pattern for the likes of Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley and Tom Jones. In 1996 he was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the 27th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame awards ceremony. It was fitting reward for a man who had sold more than 100 million records worldwide. His last record, released shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America, was dedicated to New York City's firemen.

In 2007, Laine entered Scripps Mercy Hospital, San Diego for surgery to repair a broken hip but died of a heart attack just days after the operation. He was 93. (info edited from various sources, mainly 

Here's a video clip taken from one of Frankie's early TV appearences

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For 2CD of Frankie Laines Greatest Hits go here: