Thursday, October 15, 2009

Al Martino 1927 - 2009

Italian/American singer and actor Al Martino has died last tuesday at the age of 82.

From Al Martino's Volare (originally this eurocovers post):

Al Martino was born in Philadelphia 82 years ago. His breakthrough hit was Here In My Heart in 1952. And the story goes that he recorded the song because Mario Lanza, who it was planned for, was too busy.
It was a U.S. and U.K. # 1. In fact it was the first #1 hit in the U.K.'s recorded chart history: 9 wks #1 in the NME top 12.
Many hits followed: Take My Heart, Now, Wanted were his biggest hits in the 50's, when he was more popular in the U.K..
The 60's were his US decade with hits like I Love You Because and I Love You More And More Everyday. 14 years after Here In My Heart he recorded Spanish Eyes, another global hit (in 1966, 1970 and 1973).

Al martino's Volare (Nel blu dipinto di blu) became an (almost*) worldwide hit in 1975 when Al Martino swept the charts with this polished disco version that was appropriate both in the disco as well as on your aunts 25th wedding anniversary hoedown. A lite mix of the popular Philadelphia sound (Three degrees, Lou Rawls, MFSB etcetera) with the crooning qualities of an established 50's / 60's star was just bound to work.
Volare failed to chart in the U.K. but was a huge smash in Europe, including a #24 in Italy and a #2 in Belgium.

Al Martino's version was the start of an avalanche of disco versions which popped up until the 70s were over. Every party band played the new version and it gave Modugno's its second life. Even orchestra's that had recorded the song the first time around rode along on the Al Martino wave (George Jouvin, Caravelli).

Read more about Al Martino at his homepage. Or check the usual sources for his compilation cds. (Or just pick up some of his old vinyls at the record fair, you won't regret it).
Al Martino also recorded Al Di Là (Italy 1961) and Love Is Blue (Luxembourg 1967), the other Eurovision winner that lost (or loser that won). It was a single and a minor hit in 1968.

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