Skip to comments.Italian-American singers dominated pop in mid-20th century (Book Review)
Posted on 11/07/2010 4:55:48 PM PST by Kid Shelleen
In the years roughly between 1947-64 -- from the end of big bands to the rise of Beatles -- Italian-American singers dominated American pop music. That's the argument Mark Rotella, a proud Italian-American himself, makes in this chatty, unscholarly history of that era.
He does it through cameos of the major figures, many of whom he interviewed in person or by phone over the past decade.
The Italians who immigrated during the first decades of the 20th century brought with them a love for music rooted in opera and the Neapolitan song
(Excerpt) Read more at post-gazette.com ...
As my old friend Geno once said, "Jew control half of everything, Italians, the other half."
Is that because the mafia controlled payola and the nightclubs?
We had the best of the best...both in music and the theater.
Very true. Pop music in the ‘50s (before rock-n-roll) was dominated by Italian-Americans. Even operatic voices such as Mario Lanza and Ezio Pinza were popular. Part of it was immigration. Part of it was American GIs returning from WW2 Italy.
Bingo. And it continued into the '70s...
Vanilla Fudge can tell you some stories about mob control of their band.
Best male vocalist was Vic Damone
What about the guy that sang:
What’s a matta you, Hey ya gotta no respect
Whatta you think you do Why you looka so sad
It’sa not so bad, it’s a nice-a place
Ah Shuddupa ya face!
Kay Adams: Michael, you never told me you knew Johnny Fontane!
Michael: Sure, you want to meet him?
Kay Adams: Well, yeah! Sure.
Michael: My father helped him with his career.
Kay Adams: How did he do that?
Michael: ...Let’s listen to the song.
Kay Adams: [after listening to Johnny for a while] Tell me, Michael. Please.
Michael: Well, when Johnny was first starting out, he was signed to a personal services contract with this big-band leader. And as his career got better and better, he wanted to get out of it. But the band leader wouldn’t let him. Now, Johnny is my father’s godson. So my father went to see this bandleader and offered him $10,000 to let Johnny go, but the bandleader said no. So the next day, my father went back, only this time with Luca Brasi. Within an hour, he had a signed release for a certified check of $1000.
Kay Adams: How did he do that?
Michael: My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Kay Adams: What was that?
Michael: Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.
Kay Adams: ...
Michael: ...That’s a true story.
[cut to Johnny singing again for about 10 more seconds before going back to Michael]
Michael: That’s my family Kay, that’s not me.
I had forgotten all about Vanilla Fudge. Their cover of “You Just Keep Me Hanging On” was interesting, to say the least.
"Two of the giants, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, in 1961"
This article makes me wonder if Steffano Maggadino's mob helped them along. Can't see why, though; they were spectacular.
Best male vocalist was Vic Damone.
He, too, was my favorite. I'll never forget the story of how Mr. Damone was on a golf course in Hollywood. At one point he interrupted the game to go to a music studio where he recorded (with one take, I understand) the theme for a major motion picture and returned to finish the game.
The song (and movie title) was "An Affair to Remember." Always loved that song, and the movie, too.
By the way, the review states that Sinatra was not popular until 1954 but I distinctly recall him being mobbed by girls in the late 1940s. Am I wrong?
Re your post #6, is this true or false: Italian-American male singers had a built-in advantage because they had a larger-than-average chest cavity (with lungs to match) that enabled them to sing with greater ability.
Also, they came from a culture that promoted singing.
That is one of the weirdest stories I’ve ever seen. Reminds me of stories of black guys and other body parts.
Actually, it was mostly Neopolitans... most of the well-known Italian singers and songs are from Naples...
Even when Dean Martin sings, “When the stars make you drool just like pasta fazool...” he is using the Neopolitan dialect word for ‘beans’ instead of the Italian word, “Pasta e fagioli”.
ok... before someone comes along and points it out, YES, I know that Pavarotti was from Modena...
I can't vouch for the supposition. Just have read it in a number of places. It may be based upon real physiological findings, don't know, that's why I asked for any verification.
If true, it would partly explain why they are such good singers, you know.