Vic Damone - Balladeer And Swinger: 1928-2018

Tuesday, 13 February 2018 11:55 AM Written by 

 

VIC DAMONE AP

Vic Damone, who died yesterday at 89, was just 19 seven decades earlier, when he had his first hit record. The former Vito Farinola of Brooklyn was on a fast trajectory. The son of Italian immigrants, he went to work when his father was injured but felt he had potential as a singer. Working an elevator in Manhattan, he had a chance encounter with Perry Como, stopped the elevator between floors and sang for him. Como liked what he heard and gave him some contacts. Looking for a more commercial stage name, he appropriated "Damone," his mother's maiden name.   (Photo: Ed Bailey. Associated Press)

Success performing on a 1947 episode of Arthur Godfrey's top-rated CBS Talent Scouts radio show got him enough attention to land a contract with Mercury records. This was his first chart hit.  Conducting the band: former Glenn Miller arranger Jerry Gray.

1947: "I Have But One Heart"

1949: You're Breaking My Heart"

April 21, 1949: So In Love" from the debut of The Morey Amsterdam Show, hosted by the future Dick Van Dyke Show co-star. Damone was 21 at the time.

1956: "On The Street Where You Live" (from My Fair Lady). At # 4 (Billboard), his biggest hit.

That was one side of Damone. Like Tony Bennett, he made ballads his early specialty but over the years. While Bennett tilted to jazz, Damone balanced his repertoire out with more upbeat, swinging pop material. That was especially true when he joined Capitol Records, filling the void left left when his pal Frank Sinatra left Capitol to join for his own, newly-formed Reprise label. For the record, Sinatra and Damone were lifelong buddies.

While at Capitol, he hosted the 1962-63 CBS summer variety show The Lively Ones, leading to one of his great albums of the same name, the orchestra conducted by Pittsburgh's Billy May.

1962: "Cherokee" from the Lively Ones album.

He followed up a year later with a live album.

1963: "A Love Of Livin' To Do" from The Liveliest at Basin Street East.

September 8, 1965: "She Loves Me" on the Mike Douglas Show

His five marriages included one to actress Pier Angeli and Diahann Carroll, Damone continued through the 70's, 80's and 90's. He flipped off an offer to play Johnny Fontaine in the Godfather (Al Martino got the job), not feeling it worth his trouble. His voice, however, remained a powerful one half a century later.

1999: "September Song"

He retired after a 2002 stroke, but recovered and in 2011, performed one final concert, allowing his grandkids to see him onstage for the first and last time ever.

 

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