Al Martino

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Al Martino
Al Martino.jpg
Martino in 2005
Background information
Birth nameJasper Cini[1]
Born(1927-10-07)October 7, 1927
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
DiedOctober 13, 2009(2009-10-13) (aged 82)
Springfield, Pennsylvania, United States
GenresJazz, swing, traditional pop, Easy Listening
OccupationsSinger, actor
Years active1948–2009
LabelsCapitol
Websitehttp://www.almartino.com/
 
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Al Martino
Al Martino.jpg
Martino in 2005
Background information
Birth nameJasper Cini[1]
Born(1927-10-07)October 7, 1927
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
DiedOctober 13, 2009(2009-10-13) (aged 82)
Springfield, Pennsylvania, United States
GenresJazz, swing, traditional pop, Easy Listening
OccupationsSinger, actor
Years active1948–2009
LabelsCapitol
Websitehttp://www.almartino.com/

Al Martino (born Jasper Cini,[1] October 7, 1927 – October 13, 2009) was an American singer and actor. He had his greatest success as a singer between the early 1950s and mid-1970s, being described as "one of the great Italian American pop crooners",[2] and also became well known as an actor, particularly for his role as singer Johnny Fontane in The Godfather.

Early life[edit]

Jasper "Al" Cini was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The name Jasper was an anglicisation of his father's name, Gasparino.[1] His parents were immigrants from Abruzzo, Italy, who ran a construction business, and while growing up he worked alongside his brothers as a bricklayer. He was inspired to become a singer by emulating artists such as Al Jolson and Perry Como, and by the success of a family friend, Alfredo Cocozza, who had changed his name to Mario Lanza.[2][3]

Career[edit]

After serving with the United States Navy in World War II, during which he was part of the Iwo Jima invasion where he was wounded, Cini began his singing career. Encouraged by Lanza, he adopted the stage name Al Martino - based on the name of his good friend Lorraine Cianfrani (née Losavio's) husband Alfred Martin Cianfrani - and began singing in local nightclubs. In 1948 he moved to New York City, recorded some sides for the Jubilee label,[4][5] and in 1952 won first place on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts television program with a performance of Como's hit "If".[6]

Martino in 1952 when "Here in My Heart" topped the music charts.

As a result, he won a recording contract with the Philadelphia based independent label BBS, where he recorded the song "Here in My Heart". Lanza had been asked by his label RCA Victor to record the song, but Martino called and pleaded with him not to do so in order to let Martino's version have a clear run.[2][3][7] The song spent three weeks at No. 1 on the US pop charts in June 1952, earning Martino a gold disc[8] and, later in the year, also reached the top of the UK charts. It was No. 1 in the first UK Singles Chart, published by the New Musical Express on November 14, 1952, putting him into the Guinness Book of World Records.[9] "Here in My Heart" remained in the top position for nine weeks in the United Kingdom, a record for the longest consecutive run at No. 1 that has only since been beaten by five other songs.[10][11]

The record's success led to a deal with Capitol Records, and he released three more singles — "Take My Heart," "Rachel," and "When You're Mine" — through 1953, all of which hit the U.S. Top 40.[2] However, his success also attracted the attention of the Mafia, which bought out Martino’s management contract and ordered him to pay $75,000 as a safeguard for their investment.[2] After making a down-payment to appease them, he moved to Britain.[7] His popularity allowed him to continue to perform and record successfully in the UK, headlining at the London Palladium and having six further British chart hits in the period up to 1955, including "Now" and "Wanted". However, his work received no exposure back in the US.[2] In 1958, thanks to the intervention of a family friend, Martino was allowed to return to the US and resume his recording career, but he faced difficulties in re-establishing himself, especially with the arrival of rock and roll.[7]In 1959 Martino signed with 20TH FOX RECORDS and returned to the Bilboard charts with two entrees "I CAN`T YOU OUT OF MY HEART"and "DARLING I LOVE YOU".The latter also reaching the R&B charts.He also released his first two LPs titled AL MARTINO and SWING ALONG WITH AL MARTINO. The success of his 1962 album The Exciting Voice of Al Martino secured him a new contract with Capitol, and was followed by a mostly Italian language album, The Italian Voice of Al Martino, which featured his version of the then internationally popular song "Al Di Là." He also made several high-profile television appearances, helping to re-establish his visibility.[2]

In 1963, he had his biggest US chart success with "I Love You Because", a cover of Leon Payne's 1950 country music hit. Arranged by Belford Hendricks, Martino's version went to No. 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and No. 1 on the Easy Listening chart. The album of the same name went Top 10 in the Billboard 200. Martino had four other US top 10 hits in 1963 and 1964 - "Painted, Tainted Rose" (1963), "I Love You More and More Every Day", "Tears and Roses" and "Silver Bells" (all 1964).[2] He also sang the title song for the 1964 film, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. One of his biggest hits was "Spanish Eyes", achieving several gold and platinum discs for sales.[12] Recorded in 1965, the song reached No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart when re-issued in 1973.[11] The song, with a tune by Bert Kaempfert originally titled "Moon Over Naples", is among the 50 most played songs worldwide.[citation needed]

In the mid-late 1960s, the family lived in this house on the corner of Laurel Place & Belmont Drive in Cherry Hill Estates, just down the street from Frankie Avalon

Martino's run of chart success faded after the mid-1960s, although many of his records continued to reach the US Hot 100. Another later hit was a disco version of "Volare", (also known as "Nel blu, Dipinto di Blu"). In 1976, it reached No. 1 on the Italian and Flemish charts, and was in the Top Ten in Spain, The Netherlands and France, as well as in many other European countries. In 1993, Martino recorded a new studio album with the German producer, Dieter Bohlen (former member of pop duo Modern Talking, producer of international artists like Chris Norman of Smokie, Bonnie Tyler, Dionne Warwick, Engelbert or Errol Brown of Hot Chocolate). The single "Spanish Ballerina" (written in Bohlen's europop sound) reached No. 93 position in the German single charts.[13]

Apart from singing, Martino played the role of Johnny Fontane in the 1972 film The Godfather, as well as singing the film's theme, "Speak Softly Love". He played the same role in The Godfather Part III and The Godfather Trilogy: 1901–1980. He later returned to acting, playing aging crooner Sal Stevens in the short film Cutout, appearing in film festivals around the world in 2006.

Death and legacy[edit]

Martino died on October 13, 2009 at his childhood home in Springfield, Pennsylvania, six days after his 82nd birthday. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Martino was survived by his widow Judi and four children: Alison, Alfred and Alana.

In December 2009, Al Martino was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.[citation needed]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

[14]

Compilations[edit]

Singles[edit]

YearTitleAlbumU.S. Pop[15]U.S. AC[15]UK Singles Chart[11]
1952"Here in My Heart"The Exciting Voice of Al Martino11
"Take My Heart"129
1953"Now"3
"Rachel"3010
1954"Wanted"4
"The Story of Tina"10
1955"The Man from Laramie"19
1959"I Can't Get You Out of My Heart"Al Martino44
"Darling, I Love You"63
1960"Summertime"Swing Along With Al Martino49
1961"Here in My Heart" (re-recording)8617
1963"I Love You Because"I Love You Because3148
"Painted, Tainted Rose"Painted, Tainted Rose153
"Living a Lie"Love Notes228
1964"Silver Bells"A Merry Christmas6
"I Love You More and More Every Day"I Love You More and More Every Day/Tears and Roses93
"Tears and Roses"207
"Always Together"We Could334
"I Can't Get You Out of My Heart" (reissue)99
"We Could"We Could416
1965"My Heart Would Know"5211
"Somebody Else is Taking My Place"5311
"My Cherie"My Cherie8826
"Forgive Me"Spanish Eyes617
1966"Spanish Eyes"Spanish Eyes1515 A
"Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep"302
"Wiederseh'n"Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep573
"Just Yesterday"This Is Love7712
"The Wheel of Hurt"5912
1967"Daddy's Little Girl"Daddy's Little Girl422
"Mary in the Morning"Mary in the Morning271
"More Than the Eye Can See"541
1968"Love Is Blue"Love Is Blue573
"Lili Marlene"877
"Wake Up to Me Gentle"21
1969"I Can't Help It"9710
"Sausalito"Sausalito9913
"I Started Loving You Again" B8619
1970"Can't Help Falling in Love"Can't Help Falling in Love515
"Walking in the Sand"9
"True Love Is Greater Than Friendship"33
1971"Come into My Life"30
"Losing My Mind"39
1972"Speak Softly Love"Love Theme from 'The Godfather'8024
"Canta Libre"37
1975"To the Door of the Sun (Alle Porte del Sole)"To the Door of the Sun177
1976"Volare"Sing My Love Songs339
"My Thrill"43
"Sing My Love Song"24
1977"Kentucky Morning"Love Is Blue26
1978"The Next Hundred Years"Al Martino496
"One Last Time"44

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Al Martino at FindAGrave.com
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Biography by Steve Huey". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 24 February 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Biography on official Martino website accessed 2 January 2010
  4. ^ "Jubilee Records Advertisement". Billboard. April 25, 1953. p. 71. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "Popular Record Reviews". Billboard. April 14, 1951. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955–2002 (1st ed.). Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 446. ISBN 0-89820-155-1. 
  7. ^ a b c Obituary in The Times, retrieved 2 January 2010.
  8. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 61. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  9. ^ Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 7. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  10. ^ "I Believe" (11 weeks), "Cara Mia" (10), "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" (16), "Love Is All Around" (15), "Umbrella" (10)
  11. ^ a b c d Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 352. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  12. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 194. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  13. ^ "German Single Charts (Dieter Bohlen)". Archived from the original on 2009-10-24. 
  14. ^ Allmusic.com - Charts & Awards (albums)
  15. ^ a b Allmusic.com - Charts & Awards (singles)

External links[edit]