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Al Martino (born Alfred Cini, October 7, 1927 – October 13, 2009) was an American singer and actor. Allmusic journalist Steve Huey states, "Martino was one of the great Italian American pop crooners, boasting a string of hit singles and albums that stretched from the early 1950s all the way into the mid 1970s. However, he was perhaps even better known for his role in The Godfather as singer Johnny Fontane, a character supposedly based on Frank Sinatra, but with eerie similarities to Martino's own career."

Biography

His Maltese immigrant parents ran a masonry business, and he worked alongside his brothers as a bricklayer while growing up. However, he was more interested in music, and was inspired by Al Jolson and Perry Como to try his own hand at singing. When his boyhood friend Alfredo Cocozza changed his name to Mario Lanza and became an international opera star, the possibility of a career in music suddenly seemed plausible.

After service with the United States Navy in World War II, including being a part of the Iwo Jimamarker invasion where he was wounded, he commenced his singing career. Adopting the stage name Al Martino (after his maternal grandfather's last name), he performed in local nightclubs for a time, and moved to New Yorkmarker in 1948 with Lanza's encouragement. He went on to win first place on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts television program, thanks to a rendition of Como's "If," and that exposure helped him land a recording contract with the Philadelphia based independent label, BBS.

His single "Here in My Heart" was number one 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. "Here in My Heart" remained in the top position for nine weeks in the United Kingdommarker, setting up a record for the longest consecutive run at number one, which over half a century on, has only been beaten by five other tracks ("I Believe" (11 weeks), "Cara Mia" (10), " I Do It for You" (16), "Love Is All Around" (15) and "Umbrella" (10)). Martino has stated that Mario Lanza dropped his plans to record this song after he called Lanza in Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker and explained that his own recording would be neglected if he did so.

A transatlantic chart-topper, "Here in My Heart" earned Martino a gold disc. Its success secured Martino a record label deal with Capitol Recordsmarker, and he released three more singles — "Take My Heart," "Rachel," and "When You're Mine" — through 1953, all of which hit the U.S.marker Top 40. However, Martino's contract was taken over by a Mafia connected management team, which ordered Martino to pay $75,000, as a safeguard for their investment. Martino made a down payment to ensure his family's safety, then fled to the United Kingdommarker where his popularity allowed him to perform successfully for a time, headlining at the London Palladiummarker. He continued to record in the UK with moderate success, but his work received no exposure back in the U.S.marker In 1958, thanks to the intervention of a family friend, Martino was allowed to return home and resume his recording career.

Martino faced an uphill battle re-establishing himself, especially with the counteracting arrival of rock and roll. He recorded for 20th Century Fox during the late 1950s, but the label ended up dropping him. A new album, The Exciting Voice of Al Martino (1962) secured a new deal with Capitol, and was followed by a mostly Italian language album, The Italian Voice of Al Martino. He also made several high-profile television appearances to re-establish his visibility.

He scored a major comeback hit with 1963's "I Love You Because." Arranged by Belford Hendricks, Martino's cover version went to number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, and number one on the corresponding Easy Listening chart. The accompanying album of the same name went Top 10 in the Billboard 200, and Martino remained a regular visitor to the charts for over a decade afterwards, with hits including "Painted, Tainted Rose" (1963) plus "Always Together," "I Love You More and More Every Day", "Tears and Roses" and "We Could" (all 1964).

One of the most successful Martino hits was "Spanish Eyes", achieving several gold and platinum discs for sales. Recorded in 1965, the song reached number 5 on the UK Singles Chart when re-issued in 1973. Even today, this classic by composer Bert Kaempfert (his original title for the song was "Moon Over Naples") is among the 50 most-played songs worldwide. Another hit was a disco version of "Volare", (also known as "Nel blu, Dipinto di Blu"). In 1976, it reached number one on the Italianmarker and Flemish charts, and was in the Top Ten in Spainmarker, The Netherlandsmarker and Francemarker, as well as in many other European countries.

In the U.S.marker, Martino had eleven Top 40 hits in the Billboard pop singles chart in the 1960s and 1970s, with 1963's "I Love You Because" (#3) and 1964's "I Love You More and More Every Day" (#9) both reaching the Top Ten. He also sang the title song for the film, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964).

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 II and The Godfather Part III, as well as The Godfather Trilogy: 1901-1980.Martino toured the nightclub circuit extensively during the 1970s, and managed one more easy listening hit in 1978's "The Next Hundred Years." Faced with diminishing returns, he and Capitol finally parted ways in 1982, but Martino continued to perform in clubs, lounges, and casinos for some time afterward, and returned to recording in 2000 with the album, Style.

In 1993, he 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 #93 position in the German single charts.

He returned to acting in 2006, when he played an aging crooner, Sal Stevens, in the short film Cutout, and appeared in film festivals around the world.

Martino died on October 13, 2009 at his childhood home in Springfieldmarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, 6 days after his 82nd birthday. Martino was survived by his wife Judi and three children.

Discography

Studio albums

  • 1959: Al Martino
  • 1960: Swing Along With Al Martino
  • 1962: The Exciting Voice of Al Martino (U.S. #109)
  • 1962: The Italian Voice of Al Martino (U.S. #57)
  • 1963: I Love You Because (U.S. #7)
  • 1963: Painted, Tainted Rose (U.S. #9)
  • 1963: Love Notes
  • 1964: A Merry Christmas
  • 1964: I Love You More and More Every Day/Tears and Roses (U.S. #31)
  • 1964: Living a Lie (U.S. #13)
  • 1965: My Cherie (U.S. #19)
  • 1965: Somebody Else is Taking My Place (U.S. #42)
  • 1965: We Could (U.S. #41)
  • 1966: Spanish Eyes (U.S. #8)
  • 1966: Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep (U.S. #116)
  • 1966: This is Love (U.S. #57)
  • 1967: Daddy's Little Girl (U.S. #23)
  • 1967: This Love for You (U.S. #99)
  • 1967: Mary in the Morning (U.S. #63)
  • 1968: Love is Blue (U.S. #56)
  • 1968: This is Al Martino (U.S. #129)
  • 1969: Jean (U.S. #196)
  • 1969: Sausalito (U.S. #189)
  • 1970: Can't Help Falling in Love (U.S. #184)
  • 1970: My Heart Sings (U.S. #172)
  • 1972: Love Theme from 'The Godfather' (U.S. #138)
  • 1975: To the Door of the Sun (U.S. #129)
  • 1976: In Concert: Recorded With the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (live)
  • 1978: Al Martino Sings
  • 1978: Al Martino
  • 1982: All of Me
  • 1993: The Voice to Your Heart; produced by Dieter Bohlen in Germany
  • 2006: Come Share the Wine


Compilations

  • 1968: The Best of Al Martino (U.S. #108)
  • 1999: The Legendary Al Martino


Singles

Year Title Album U.S. Pop U.S. AC UK Singles Chart
1952 "Here in My Heart" The Exciting Voice of Al Martino 1 1
"Take My Heart" 12 9
1953 "Now" 3
"Rachel" 30 10
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 Martino 44
"Darling, I Love You" 63
1960 "Summertime" Swing Along With Al Martino 49
1961 "Here in My Heart" (re-recording) 86 17
1963 "I Love You Because" I Love You Because 3 1 48
"Painted, Tainted Rose" Painted, Tainted Rose 15 3
"Living a Lie" Love Notes 22 8
1964 "Silver Bells" A Merry Christmas 6
"I Love You More and More Every Day" I Love You More and More Every Day/Tears and Roses 9 3
"Tears and Roses" 20 7
"Always Together" We Could 33 4
"I Can't Get You Out of My Heart" (reissue) 99
"We Could" We Could 41 6
1965 "My Heart Would Know" 52 11
"Somebody Else is Taking My Place" 53 11
"My Cherie" My Cherie 88 26
"Forgive Me" Spanish Eyes 61 7
1966 "Spanish Eyes" Spanish Eyes 15 1 5 †
"Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep" 30 2
"Wiederseh'n" Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep 57 3
"Just Yesterday" This Is Love 77 12
"The Wheel of Hurt" 59 12
1967 "Daddy's Little Girl" Daddy's Little Girl 42 2
"Mary in the Morning" Mary in the Morning 27 1
"More Than the Eye Can See" 54 1
1968 "Love Is Blue" Love Is Blue 57 3
"Lili Marlene" 87 7
"Wake Up to Me Gentle" 21
1969 "I Can't Help It" 97 10
"Sausalito" Sausalito 99 13
"I Started Loving You Again" 86 19
1970 "Can't Help Falling in Love" Can't Help Falling in Love 51 5
"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' 80 24
"Canta Libre" 37
1975 "To the Door of the Sun (Alle Porte del Sole)" To the Door of the Sun 17 7
"Volare" 33 9
1976 "My Thrill" 43
"Sing My Love Song" 24
1977 "Kentucky Morning" Love Is Blue 26
1978 "The Next Hundred Years" Al Martino 49 6
"One Last Time" 44


† "Spanish Eyes" reached #5 in the UK on re-issue in 1973.

See also



References

  1. Velez, A. E. "Al Martino, Singer of Pop Ballads, Is Dead at 82," The New York Times, Thursday, October 15, 2009.
  2. Allmusic.com - Charts & Awards (albums)
  3. Allmusic.com - Charts & Awards (singles)


External links




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