Buddy Greco

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Buddy Greco
Buddy Greco 1962
Greco in 1962.
Background information
Birth name Armando Greco
Born (1926-08-14) August 14, 1926 (age 88)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Occupations Musician
Instruments Vocals, piano
Years active 1950s-present
Labels Bainbridge, Kapp, Epic, Fontana, Reprise Records, Pye Records

Buddy Greco (born August 14, 1926) is an American singer and pianist.

Biography[edit]

Greco and George Carlin in a skit from Away We Go, 1967.

He was born Armando Greco in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Greco began playing piano at the age of four. His first professional work was playing with Benny Goodman's band.[1] Most of Greco's work has been in the jazz and pop genres. He has recorded songs such as Oh Look A-There, Ain't She Pretty, "The Lady is a Tramp", "Up, Up and Away" and "Around the World", and has released about 72 albums and 100 singles. Greco has had an active concert career playing in symphony halls, theatres, nightclubs, and Las Vegas showrooms. In the 1960s he made appearances with the Rat Pack. Greco played the nightclub singer Lucky in the 1969 film The Girl Who Knew Too Much. In 1967, Greco starred in the summer replacement television series Away We Go with drummer Buddy Rich and comedian George Carlin.[2]

Greco has recorded albums for the Columbia/Epic and Reprise record labels, and other minor labels. His most popular albums were On Stage and Buddy's Back in Town, both with Columbia. His most successful single was "The Lady is a Tramp", which sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.[3] Greco recorded an album entitled Movin' On which included his version of the Marvin Gaye standard "What's Going On". Greco recorded sporadically after this album, but he continued performing live shows, and has performed in most of the top nightclubs in the world. His last nationally charted record was "From Atlanta to Goodbye", on the Scepter Records label, which made Billboard's Easy Listening Top 40 in 1969.

During the prime of his career, Greco had the privilege of working with a lot of the upcoming performers of the era, including Ron Eschete, with whom he working during the years 1969 to 1970 during their tour. The pair also had a lot of publicity together, appearing on many TV shows such as The Mike Douglas Show.[4]

Greco performed the vocal theme to the 1972 film Something to Hide, "How Can We Run Away (Theme From Something to Hide)", which was composed by Roy Budd (uncredited on the film).[5]

Living in Palm Desert, California, Greco continued to appear at his club in Cathedral City, California,[6] until its closure in August 2009. In 2004 Greco and his spouse Lezlie Anders were headliners with the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies at the Plaza Theatre in Palm Springs, California.[7][8]

In 1992, Greco took on a thirteen week stint in Las Vegas at the Starlight Room at Stars' Desert Inn. This brought about his second big hit at fame, as he became very popular. The following year in 1993, he was given the great honour of being added to the Philadelphia Music Alliance's Walk of Fame. Shortly after this he took off on a world tour visiting places such as Italy, France, Australia and England.[9]

In 2008, Greco toured the UK with Anders. Together they performed dates with the BBC Big Band and played at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London. Greco was the first Las Vegas headliner to star at a British casino when he performed in cabaret on 8 August 2008 at the Circus Casino, Star City, Birmingham.[10][11] In April 2010 he performed a live concert for BBC Radio 2 with the 42-piece BBC Concert Orchestra as a salute to Frank Sinatra. He toured the UK for over 30 dates from July 2010 with the Swinging Las Vegas Legends Show. He has produced, with his wife of 15 years, vocalist Lezlie Anders, a stage show titled 'FEVER! The Music of Miss Peggy Lee', which has met with critical acclaim, and opened in London's West End in the spring of 2010.[10]

On New Year's Eve 2011 he made a guest appearance on Jools Holland's Hootenanny singing Fly Me to the Moon backed by the Jools Holland Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.

In 2008, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to him and spouse Lezlie Anders.[12]

In 2012, Greco has been enjoying touring around England, performing in slightly smaller venues, including Thameside Theatre Stage,[13] and The Broadway in Essex.[14]

Together with his wife, one of his latest accomplishments is the creation of their musical, Fever! The Story and Music of Peggy Lee. The inspiration from this came mainly from his wife, who was close friends with Peggy Lee, the American jazz singer. The show has been given great acclaim and critic reviews are outstanding. The show did a large tour of the US where it was openly welcomed. The show tells of both the life and music of Peggy Lee and all her accomplishments. Buddy's part in the show falls down to conducting the orchestra and playing the piano, whilst spouse Leslie takes centre stage to sing.[15]

It is well known that Greco and spouse were close friends of Marilyn Monroe, and he admits to being one of the last to have seen her, along with close friend Frank Sinatra. He described her as beautiful and not having a care in the world. Only a few days later did she die.[16]

In 2006, it was first announced that Buddy Greco would be writing an autobiography, though to date one has yet to be published. He often talked about it in interviews and hinted towards the content. If it is anything to go by what was said, the book when published will stir up the past and many rumours as it is said to include some very detailed, and never before heard information about the final weekend he and Sinatra spent with Marilyn Monroe, before her death a few days later. It is also meant to include in depth information about his close friend of fifty years, Frank Sinatra. Alongside this, it will talk about his life in the industry and his progress from group singer to solo singer and jazz pianist. The book is said to be called, What Town Is This? [17]

2013 saw Greco's 80th year in the show business and entertainment industry. This was celebrated through a concert which was dedicated it him and took place in Southend, Essex. The night consisted of a meal, cocktails, a show of video footage of the man himself throughout the years, not to mention several friends and fellow performers who came along and sang. Stars such as the Rat pack Cast, Atila, Kenny Lynch, Paul Young, Michelle Collins were present to celebrate his career and also took part throughout the evening. Buddy himself along with his wife took to the stage and they performed together.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Greco has been married five times:[19]

  • Sally Baionno (1947–1962), divorced, 3 children
  • Dani Crayne (1961–1974), actress, divorced
  • Margret Kinley (1974–1977), divorced, 1 child Anastasia Greco
  • Jackie Sabatino (1977–?), 3 children
  • Lezlie Anders (14 April 1995–present)

Greco, who was born in Philadelphia, had a tough upbringing in a hard part of town. His parents were not wealthy, In fact, his father worked as a music critic who struggled to find work. Having first hit the big time at the age of 18, a mere teenager, he struggled to keep his head level and admits to constant partying, drinking and many holidays.[20] His first taste of music was through his mother, who was a musician. She introduced him to the piano, which he began playing at the age of four. He was first classical trained, playing the typical student music. It wasn't until he first heard mass that he fell in love with the piano and what it could do. It was in the 1940s that he was first signed, only a couple of years after having been first introduced to jazz and pop music.[21] As a young man in his early years of fame, it has been said that Greco mixed with many people, including mafias and boss Sam Giancana, who's been linked to the CIA and was anonymously shot dead.[17]

Greco met current partner, Lezlie Anders just after she had made the big time and was performing in Las Vegas. Their first meeting was when they stepped out on stage together, as she was a support act for him at The Desert Inn. Now married, they continue to work together and travel together, with a combination of singing duets, or often Buddy humbly plays piano, whilst his wife sings.[15]

Whilst living in Palm Springs, Greco chose to open his own club, all be it small, with a cocktail bar and dining area large enough for just short of one hundred people. Plastered all over the walls are pictures, of Buddy, the Rat Pack and many other celebrity friends, the whole room being arranged by his wife Lezlie. Buddy often performs in his own club, and it was a very popular place for stars to dine, before its shutting down just before Greco moved his permanent residency to England.[22]

Greco is very fond of the UK, having first been acquainted with it in 1949. He spent years performing in many clubs around England, mainly the Southend. Now that Buddy has more time to relax, he has relocated to Essex in England where he lives and spends the majority of his time, though he still possesses his house in Palm Springs, California, where he often spends his vacations.[20]

Due to his hard upbringing, Buddy wants to give back all the opportunities that he was given that led to the successful life which he lives. He is doing this by giving out free masterclasses to aspiring pianists. He himself did not own a piano as a child and his only opportunity to practise was to attend the local community centre where classes were being run. Although classes will mainly be held by teachers, Buddy will get involved with the fundraising to keep the project alive, as well as the masterclasses which he will hold. Wife Lezlie Anders has also agreed to help out with this worthwhile cause.[23]

Partial discography[edit]

Buddy Greco, by Allan Warren
  • Around the World (Epic)
  • Lady Is a Tramp (Epic)
  • Ready for Your Love (Bainbridge Records)
  • Buddy Greco at Mister Kelly's 1956
  • My Buddy (Epic) 1959
  • Broadway Melodies (Kapp Records) 1960
  • Buddy (Kapp) 1960
  • Songs for Swinging Losers (Epic) 1960
  • All Time Favorites (Sutton-Stereo) 1960
  • Back in Town (Epic) 1961
  • I Like It Swinging (Epic) 1961
  • Buddy and Soul (Epic) 1962
  • Let's Love (Epic) 1962
  • Sings for Intimate Moments (Epic) 1963
  • Soft and Gentle (Epic) 1963
  • Buddy Greco On Stage! (Epic) 1964
  • My Last Night in Rome 1964
  • I Love a Piano (Studio 2 Stereo) 1965
  • In a Brand New Bag (Reprise) 1966
  • Big Band and Ballads (Reprise) 1966 [24]
  • Away, We Go (Reprise) 1966[24]
  • Let The Sunshine In (Wand) 1970[24]
  • It's My Life (Pye) 1972[24]
  • Movin' On (Pye) 1973[24]
  • Buddy Greco 'Live' (Pye) 1974[24]
  • Live At The Sands (Picc-A-Dilly) 1980[24]
  • It's Magic (Prestige) 1990[24]
  • Round Midnight (Bay Cities) 1992[24]
  • All-Time Favourite's Featuring Buddy Greco (Sutton)[24]
  • Buddy Greco Sings (Boulevard)[24]
  • Buddy Greco (World Record Club)[24]

Singles[edit]

Year Title Chart positions
US US AC
1947 "Ooh! Look-A There, Ain't She Pretty" 15
1951 "I Ran All the Way Home" 30
1960 "The Lady Is a Tramp"A
1961 "Around the World" 109
1962 "Mr. Lonely" 64
1965 "That Darn Cat" 36
"I Can't Begin to Tell You" 132 27
1966 "Put Yourself in My Place" 24
"Walking on New Grass" 21
1967 "Love's Gonna Live Here Again" 19
"There She Goes" 14
1962 "From Atlanta to Goodbye" 34
  • A "The Lady Is a Tramp" peaked at #26 in UK Singles charts.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 43. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  2. ^ "Away We Go". IMDB. 1967. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  3. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 135. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  4. ^ Unknown. "Ron Escheté - Biography." Roneschete.com, 2014. Web. 20 Jan 2014.
  5. ^ Roy Budd Discography
  6. ^ Davis, Rick (November 1, 2005). "Dinner Club Due in Desert: For Buddy Greco, it's show business as usual". The Public Record (Desert Publication, Inc. and Sharon Apfelbaum). 
  7. ^ "Palm Springs Follies Opens". Inland Empire Business Journal. Daily Planet Publishing, Inc. November 1, 2004. Retrieved March 29, 2013 from HighBeam Research. 
  8. ^ "Palm Springs Follies pays tribute to the golden age of burlesque". Redlands Daily Facts. Los Angeles Newspaper Group. August 4, 2004. Retrieved March 29, 2013 from HighBeam Research. 
  9. ^ "Six decades and 62 albums later, this showman goes on". St. Petersburg Times, 24th January. 1997: 5, Print.
  10. ^ a b Buddy Greco website
  11. ^ Bookings
  12. ^ Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated
  13. ^ "Legend Buddy Is Back On Stage". Thurrock Gazette, 15 April 2012: Print.
  14. ^ "An Evening With Buddy Greco". Brentwood Gazette, 25 January 2012: 3, Print.
  15. ^ a b "Rat pack legend tells Peggy's story". Croydon Advertiser, 4 November. 2011: 49, Print.
  16. ^ "50 Years On Marilyn". The Sunday Telegraph, 29 July 2012: 25, Print.
  17. ^ a b "Wine, women, song and Sinatra". Daily Post, 10 March 2006: 2, Print.
  18. ^ "Interview with Buddy Greco." Personal interview. 28 December 2013.
  19. ^ IMDb database details
  20. ^ a b "My Hols". The Sunday Times, 7 April 2013: 27, Print.
  21. ^ "I Would Die If I Quit". Liverpool Daily Echo, 13 August 2010: 11, Print.
  22. ^ "Performer finds heavenly Springs". The Gold Coast Bulletin, 8 September 2007: 123, Print.
  23. ^ "Learn the Piano…From Rat Pack Star Buddy Greco". Echo, 7 October 2011: Print.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Buddy Greco." Discogs, 2014. Web. 19 Jan 2014.

External links[edit]