|Birth Day:||March 30, 1913|
|Death Date:||Feb 6, 2007 (age 93)|
|Birth Place:||Chicago, United States|
As per our current Database, Frankie Laine died on Feb 6, 2007 (age 93).
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He joined the track and basketball team, strengthening his lungs in the process.
Frankie Laine was born Francesco Paolo LoVecchio on March 30, 1913, to Giovanni and Cresenzia LoVecchio (née Salerno). His actual Cook County, Ill, birth Certificate, No. 14436, was already Americanized at the time of his birth, with his name written as "Frank Lovecchio," his mother as "Anna Salerno," and his father as "John Lovecchio," with the "V" lower case in each instance, except in the "Reported by" section with "John Lo Vecchio (father)" written in. His parents had emigrated from Monreale, Sicily, to Chicago's Near West Side, in "Little Italy," where his father worked at one time as the personal barber for gangster Al Capone. Laine's family appears to have had several organized crime connections, and young Francesco was living with his grandfather when the latter was killed by rival gangsters.
His next big break came when he replaced Perry Como in the Freddy Carlone band in Cleveland in 1937; Como made a call to Carlone about Laine. Como was another lifelong friend of Laine's, who once lent Laine the money to travel to a possible gig.
He changed his professional name to Frankie Laine in 1938, upon receiving a job singing for the New York City radio station WINS. The program director, Jack Coombs, thought that "LoVecchio" was "too foreign sounding, and too much of a mouthful for the studio announcers," so he Americanized it to "Lane." Frankie added the "i" to avoid confusion with a girl singer at the station who went by the name of Frances Lane. It was at this time that Laine got unknown songbird Helen O'Connell her job with the Jimmy Dorsey band. WINS, deciding that they no longer needed a jazz singer, dropped him. With the help of bandleader Jean Goldkette, he got a job with a sustainer (nonsponsored) radio show at NBC. As he was about to start, Germany attacked Poland and all sustainer broadcasts were pulled off the air in deference to the needs of the military.
In 1943, he moved to California, where he sang in the background of several films, including The Harvey Girls, and dubbed the singing voice for an actor in the Danny Kaye comedy The Kid from Brooklyn. It was in Los Angeles in 1944 that he met and befriended disc jockey Al Jarvis and composer/pianist Carl T. Fischer, the latter of whom was to be his songwriting partner, musical director, and piano accompanist until his death in 1954. Their songwriting collaborations included "I'd Give My Life," "Baby, Just For Me," "What Could Be Sweeter?," "Forever More," and the jazz standard "We'll Be Together Again."
Laine cut his first record in 1944, for a fledgling company called "Bel-Tone Records." The sides were called "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning", (an uptempo number not to be confused with the Frank Sinatra recording of the same name) and a wartime propaganda tune entitled "Brother, That's Liberty", though the records failed to make much of an impression. The label soon folded, and Laine was picked up by Atlas Records, a "race label" that initially hired him to imitate his friend Nat "King" Cole. Cole would occasionally "moonlight" for other labels, under pseudonyms, while under contract to "Capitol", and as he had previously recorded some sides for Atlas, they reasoned that fans would assume that "Frankie Laine" was yet another pseudonym for "Cole".
When the war ended, Laine soon found himself "scuffling" again, and was eventually given a place to stay by Jarvis. Jarvis also did his best to help promote the struggling singer's career, and Laine soon had a small, regional following. In the meantime, Laine would make the rounds of the bigger jazz clubs, hoping that the featured band would call him up to perform a number with them. In late 1946, Hoagy Carmichael heard him singing at Billy Berg's club in Los Angeles, and this was when success finally arrived. Not knowing that Carmichael was in the audience, Laine sang the Carmichael-penned standard "Rockin' Chair" when Slim Gaillard called him up to the stage to sing. This eventually led to a contract with the newly established Mercury records. Laine and Carmichael would later collaborate on a song, "Put Yourself in My Place, Baby".
Even after his discovery by Carmichael, Laine still was considered only an intermission act at Billy Berg's. His next big break came when he dusted off a fifteen-year-old song that few people remembered in 1946, "That's My Desire". Laine had picked up the song from songstress June Hart a half a dozen years earlier, when he sang at the College Inn in Cleveland. He introduced "Desire" as a "new" song—meaning new to his repertoire at Berg's—but the audience mistook it for a new song that had just been written. He ended up singing it five times that night. After that, Laine quickly became the star attraction at Berg's, and record company executives took note.
His 1946 recording of "That's My Desire" remains a landmark record signaling the end of both the dominance of the big bands and the crooning styles favored by contemporary Dick Haymes and others. Often called the first of the blue-eyed soul singers, Laine's style cleared the way for many artists who arose in the late 1940s and early 1950s, including Kay Starr, Tony Bennett, and Johnnie Ray.
He enjoyed his greatest success after impresario Mitch Miller, who became the A&R man at Mercury in 1948, recognized a universal quality in his voice that led to a succession of chart-topping popular songs, often with a folk or western flavor. Laine and Miller became a formidable hit-making team whose first collaboration, "That Lucky Old Sun", became the number one song in the country three weeks after its release. It was also Laine's fifth Gold record. "That Lucky Old Sun" was something new to the musical scene in 1949: a folk spiritual which, as interpreted by Laine, became both an affirmation of faith and a working man's wish to bring his earthly sufferings to an end.
The eldest of eight children, Laine grew up in the Old Town neighborhood (first at 1446 N. North Park Avenue and later at 331 W. Schiller Street) and got his first taste of singing as a member of the choir in the Church of the Immaculate Conception's elementary school across the street from the North Park Avenue home. He later attended Lane Technical High School, where he helped to develop his lung power and breath control by joining the track and field and basketball teams. He realized he wanted to be a singer when he missed time in school to see Al Jolson's current talking picture, The Singing Fool. Jolson would later visit Laine when both were filming pictures in 1949, and at about this time, Jolson remarked that Laine was going to put all the other singers out of business.
But the biggest label of all was Columbia Records, and in 1950 Mitch Miller left Mercury to embark upon his phenomenally successful career as the A&R man there. Laine's contract at Mercury would be up for renewal the following year, and Miller soon brought Laine to Columbia as well. Laine's contract with Columbia was the most lucrative in the industry until RCA bought Elvis Presley's contract five years later.
On television, he hosted three variety shows: The Frankie Laine Hour in 1950, The Frankie Laine Show (with Connie Haines) 1954–55, and Frankie Laine Time in 1955–56. The latter was a summer replacement for The Arthur Godfrey Show that received a Primetime Emmy for Best Male Singer. Frankie Laine Time featured such guest stars as Ella Fitzgerald, Johnnie Ray, Georgia Gibbs, The Four Lads, Cab Calloway, Patti Page, Eddie Heywood, Duke Ellington, Boris Karloff, Patti Andrews, Joni James, Shirley MacLaine, Gene Krupa, Teresa Brewer, Jack Teagarden and Polly Bergen.
Laine began recording for Columbia Records in 1951, where he immediately scored a double-sided hit with the single "Jezebel" (#2)/"Rose, Rose, I Love You" (#3). Other Laine hits from this period include "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)" (#5), "Jealousy (Jalousie)" (#3), "The Girl in the Wood" (#23), "When You're in Love" (#30), "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" (with Jo Stafford) (#26), "Your Cheatin' Heart" (#18), "Granada" (#17), "Hey Joe!" (#6), "The Kid's Last Fight" (#20), "Cool Water", "Some Day" (#14), "A Woman in Love" (#19), "Love Is a Golden Ring" (with The Easy Riders) (#10), and "Moonlight Gambler" (#3).
In 1953 he set two more records (this time on the UK charts): weeks at No 1 for a song ("I Believe", which held the number one spot for 18 weeks), and weeks at No 1 for an artist in a single year (27 weeks), when "Hey Joe!" and "Answer Me, O Lord" became number one hits as well). In spite of the popularity of rock and roll artists such as Elvis Presley and The Beatles, fifty-plus years later, both of Laine's records still hold.
In 1953, Laine recorded his first long playing album that was released, domestically, solely as an album (prior to this his albums had been compiled from previously released singles). The album was titled "Mr. Rhythm", as Laine was often known at that time, and featured many jazz-flavored, rhythm numbers similar in style to his work on the Mercury label. The album's songlist was made up of "Great American Songbook" standards. The tracks were "Some Day, Sweetheart", "A Hundred Years from Today", "Laughing at Life", "Lullaby in Rhythm", "Willow, Weep for Me", "My Ohio Home", "Judy" and "After You've Gone." The final number features a rare vocal duet with his accompanist/musical director, Carl Fischer. Paul Weston's orchestra provided the music.
Released as a 10" in 1953, and a 12" in 1954, this album features the talents of Laine, Jo Stafford and bandleader Paul Weston, a Tommy Dorsey alumnus who led one of the top bands of the 1950s, and was the husband of Stafford. The album was a mix of solo recordings and duets by the two stars, and of new and previously released material, including Stafford's hits single, "Make Love to Me", "Shrimp Boats", and "Jambalaya." Laine and Stafford duetted on "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans", "Floatin' Down to Cotton Town", and "Basin Street Blues"; and Laine soloed on "New Orleans" (not to be confused with "New Orleans" a.k.a. "The House of the Rising Sun" which Laine later recorded), "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?", and "When It's Sleepy Time Down South", along with a pair of cuts taken from his "Mr. Rhythm" album.
In 1954, Laine gave a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II which he cites as one of the highlights of his career. By the end of the decade, he remained far ahead of Elvis Presley as the most successful artist on the British charts. See the "Chart of All Time" for details. "I Believe" is listed as the second most popular song of all time on the British charts as well.
Laine scored a total of 39 hit records on the charts while at Columbia, and it is many of his songs from this period that are most readily associated with him. His Greatest Hits album, released in 1957, has been a perennial best seller that has never gone out of print. His songs at Columbia included everything from pop and jazz standards, novelties, gospel, spirituals, R&B numbers, country, western, folk, rock 'n' roll, calypso, foreign language, children's music, film and television themes, tangos, light operetta. His vocal style could range anywhere from shouting out lines to rhythm numbers to romantic ballads.
French composer/arranger Michel Legrand teamed up with Laine to record a pair of albums in 1958. The first, A Foreign Affair, was built around the concept of recording the tracks in different languages: English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The album produced a pair of international hits: "La Paloma" in Argentina, and "Não tem solucão" in Brazil. Other tracks included "Mona Lisa", "Mam'selle", "Torna a Sorriento", "Besame Mucho", and "Autumn Leaves."
Laine wrote the lyrics for the title song on another 1958 album, Torchin', which was also his first recorded in stereo. He was backed by trombonist Frank Comstock's orchestra, on a dozen classic torch songs including: "A Cottage for Sale", "I Cover the Waterfront", "You've Changed", "These Foolish Things", "I Got it Bad (And That Ain't Good)", "It's the Talk of the Town", and "Body and Soul". As with his Legrand album, he sings the entire lyric for each song.
A second collaboration with Comstock, also recorded in 1958, focused on intimacy. Conceived as a love letter to his second wife, actress Nan Grey (who appears on the cover with him), You Are My Love is easily Laine's most romantic work. His voice was once described (by a British disk jockey) as having "the virility of a goat and the delicacy of a flower petal," and both these elements are well showcased here (particularly the delicate nuances). His recording of the wedding standard, "Because", exemplifies the singer's delicate mode at its most exquisite. He opens the song a cappella, after which a classical, acoustic guitar joins him, with the full orchestra gradually fading in and out before the guitar only climax. Also among the love ballads on this album are versions of: "I Married an Angel", "To My Wife", "Try a Little Tenderness", "Side by Side", and a version of "The Touch of Your Lips".
Recorded in 1959, "Balladeer" was a folk-blues album. Laine had helped pioneer the folk music movement a full ten years earlier with his hit folk-pop records penned by Terry Gilkyson et al.. This album was orchestrated and arranged by Fred Katz (who had brought Laine "Satan Wears a Satin Gown") and Frank DeVol. Laine and Katz collaborated on some of the new material, along with Lucy Drucker (who apparently inspired the "Lucy D" in one of the songs). Other songs are by folk, country and blues artists such as Brownie McGhee, James A. Bland, Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter, and Hungarian composer Rudolf Friml. The closing track, "And Doesn't She Roll" (co-written by Laine), with its rhythmic counter-chorus in the background foretells Paul Simon's Graceland album two decades later.
Laine was a frequent guest star on various other shows of the time, including Shower of Stars, The Steve Allen Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, What's My Line?, This is Your Life, Bachelor Father, The Sinatra Show, The Walter Winchell Show, The Perry Como Show, The Garry Moore Show, Masquerade Party, The Mike Douglas Show, and American Bandstand. He was the mystery guest on the April 12, 1959 episode of What's My Line. Also in 1959 he made a guest appearance on Perry Mason in the title role as comedian Danny Ross in "The Case of the Jaded Joker."
In 1963 Laine left Columbia for Capitol Records, but his two years there only produced one album and a handful of singles (mostly of an inspirational nature). He continued performing regularly at this time, including a South African tour.
In 1965, Laine joined several African American artists who gave a free concert for Martin Luther King Jr.'s supporters during their Selma to Montgomery marches.
Seeking greater artistic freedom, Laine left ABC for the much smaller Amos Records, where he cut two albums in a modern, rock-influenced vein. The first album contained contemporary versions of his greatest hits, such as "Your Cheatin' Heart", "That Lucky Old Sun", "I Believe", "Jezebel", "Shine", and "Moonlight Gambler." A re-recorded single of "On The Sunny Side Of The Street" reached the Cashbox "Looking Ahead" chart in 1970. His second album for Amos was called "A Brand New Day" and, along with the title song, was original material including "Mr. Bojangles", "Proud Mary", "Put Your Hand in the Hand", "My God and I", and "Talk About the Good Times". It is one of Frankie Laine's personal favorites.
In the 1960s, Laine continued appearing on variety shows such as Laugh-In, but took on several serious guest-starring roles in shows like Rawhide, and Burke's Law. His theme song for Rawhide proved to be popular and helped make the show, which starred Eric Fleming and launched the career of Clint Eastwood, a hit. Other TV series for which Laine sang the theme song included Gunslinger, and Rango. In 1976, Laine recorded The Beatles song, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" for the documentary All This and World War II.
Laine performed at three Academy Awards ceremonies: 1950 (Mule Train), 1960 (The Hanging Tree), and 1975 (Blazing Saddles). Only last two of these ceremonies were televised. In 1981, he performed a medley of his hits on American Bandstand's 30th Anniversary Special", where he received a standing ovation. Later appearances include Nashville Now, 1989 and My Music, 2006.
In 1986, he recorded an album, Round Up with Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, which made it to the classical charts. Laine was reportedly pleased and amused having also placed songs on the rhythm and blues, and popular charts in his time.
On June 12, 1996, he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th Annual Songwriters’ Hall of Fame awards ceremony at the New York Sheraton. On his 80th birthday, the United States Congress declared him to be a national treasure. Then, a decade later on March 30, 2003, Frankie celebrated his 90th birthday, and several of his old pals, Herb Jeffries, Patti Page and Kay Starr were welcomed to his birthday bash in San Diego, as each of them gave him a helping hand in blowing out the candles.
Shortly after graduating from high school, Laine signed on as a member of The Merry Garden's marathon dance company and toured with them, working dance marathons during the Great Depression (setting the world record of 3,501 hours with partner Ruthie Smith at Atlantic City's Million Dollar Pier in 1932). Still billed as Frank LoVecchio, he would entertain the spectators during the fifteen-minute breaks the dancers were given each hour. During his marathon days, he worked with several up-and-coming entertainers, including Rose Marie, Red Skelton, and a 14-year-old Anita O'Day, for whom he served as a mentor (as noted by Laine in a 1998 interview by David Miller).
Laine married actress Nan Grey (June 1950 – July 1993) and adopted her daughters Pam and Jan from a previous marriage to jockey Jackie Westrope. Their 43-year marriage lasted until her death. Laine and Nan guest-starred on a November 18, 1960, episode of Rawhide: "Incident on the Road to Yesterday." They played long-lost lovers. Following a three-year engagement to Anita Craighead, the 86-year-old singer married Marcia Ann Kline in June 1999. This marriage lasted for the remainder of his life.
Laine settled in a hilltop spread in the Point Loma neighborhood of San Diego, where he was a supporter of local events and charities. In 2000 the San Diego Chamber of Commerce dubbed him "The Prince of Point Loma".
In 2006, he appeared on the PBS My Music special despite a recent stroke, performing "That's My Desire", and received a standing ovation. It proved to be his swan song to the world of popular music.
Laine died of heart failure on February 6, 2007, at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego. A memorial mass was held February 12, at the Immaculata parish church on the campus of the University of San Diego. The following day, his ashes, along with those of his late wife, Nan Grey, were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.
In 2010, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Frankie Laine among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
Currently, Frankie Laine is 110 years, 2 months and 11 days old. Frankie Laine will celebrate 111th birthday on a Saturday 30th of March 2024.
Find out about Frankie Laine birthday activities in timeline view here.