Dino, Desi & Billy
Dino, Desi & Billy was a singing group that existed between 1964 and 1969. The group featured Dean "Dino" Martin (Dean Paul Martin, the son of traditional pop singer Dean Martin), Desi Arnaz, Jr. (Desiderio Arnaz IV, the son of television stars Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball), and their friend Billy Hinsche. A reconstituted version of the group performed between 1998 and 2010.
Dino Martin, Desi Arnaz Jr. and Billy Hinsche first met in grammar school. Due to the family connections of Dino and Desi, the band's first audition was for Frank Sinatra, who owned Reprise Records, the recording label for Dean Martin. On most of their records, they did not play their own instruments, but used top session players, producers and songwriters. Producers included Lee Hazlewood, Billy Strange and Jimmy Bowen. Songwriters whose compositions were recorded by the group included Lee Hazlewood, David Gates, Boyce and Hart, Clint Ballard, Jr. and Bonner & Gordon.
Dino, Desi & Billy's best known songs were "I'm a Fool" (1965; U.S. Billboard Hot 100 #17; later covered by Alvin and the Chipmunks for their 1965 album Chipmunks à Go-Go) and "Not the Lovin' Kind" (1965; U.S. #25). Both were hits for the group before any group member had reached the age of 15. Following this success, they toured as an opening act for the Beach Boys in 1965. The group also opened for Paul Revere & the Raiders, Tommy Roe, Sam the Sham, the Lovin' Spoonful and The Mamas & the Papas.
The band did not have a top 40 hit after 1965, despite releasing records for five years thereafter. The group's contributions to music history have been met with critically mixed reactions. Respected critic Richie Unterberger describes the band as a group that "never had an ounce of credibility", with music that was "innocuously bland in the extreme, making The Monkees...sound positively innovative and hard-nosed in comparison." He further contends that the resources devoted to Dino, Desi & Billy in an effort to make them successful took away valuable support needed by other bands at the time, such as label mates The Kinks: Dino, Desi & Billy "took away valuable air time and sales from much better groups that really needed it, in an era in which chart considerations were much more vital to ensure an ongoing career." These sentiments may be contrasted with the fact that the band was well thought of by the Beach Boys, to the extent that Brian Wilson co-wrote with Billy Hinsche - his brother-in-law - one of the band's original songs, and their final single, "Lady Love".
The group released one album in 1965 and three albums in 1966. In contrast to the albums of other pop artists at that time, Dino, Desi & Billy albums contained primarily cover versions of Top 40 songs made popular by others, with original content being minor. The three boys make an appearance in the Dean Martin Film Murderers' Row and sing the Boyce & Hart song, "If You're Thinkin' What I'm Thinkin'". From 1966 to 1970, the group continued to release singles, encountering marginal success, which was not altered by a change of label to Columbia Records in 1969. Also in 1969, the group contributed three songs to the soundtrack of the surf film Follow Me. The group received top billing on the soundtrack album, despite the fact that most of the album featured music by composer Stu Phillips. Later in 1969, the group broke up, due in part to Desi joining his mother's television show and Hinsche wishing to commence university studies. The group's last single, "Lady Love", was released by Reprise Records in 1970, after the group had broken up.
Dean Paul Martin became a tennis player, actor and a captain in the California Air National Guard. He was married to actress Olivia Hussey and figure skater Dorothy Hamill, and was killed while piloting a military jet in 1987.
From 1998 to 2010, a reconfiguration of the group, known as "Ricci, Desi, & Billy", performed at various times, in addition to releasing two live albums. The band performed new material and the original hits, with Ricci Martin, the youngest son of singer Dean Martin, replacing his late older brother, Dean Paul Martin.
- Since You Broke My Heart / We Know—Reprise 0324—released 11-2-64
- I'm A Fool / So Many Ways—Reprise 0367–4-12-65
- I'm A Fool / So Many Ways /Since You Broke My Heart / We Know—Reprise 60072 ep (France) -- 4-12-65
- Not The Lovin' Kind / Chimes Of Freedom—Reprise 0401–8-18-65
- Please Don't Fight It / The Rebel Kind—Reprise 0426–11-10-65
- Superman / I Can't Get Her Off My Mind—Reprise 0444–1-19-66
- Tie Me Down / It's Just The Way You Are—Reprise 0462–3-23-66
- Look Out Girls (Here We Come) / She's So Far Out She's In—Reprise 0469–5-20-66
- I Hope She's There Tonight / Josephine—Reprise 0529–10-12-66
- If You're Thinkin' What I'm Thinkin' / Pretty Flamingo—Reprise 0544–12-13-66
- Two in the Afternoon / Good Luck, Best Wishes to You—Reprise 0579–4-19-67
- Kitty Doyle / Without Hurtin' Some—Reprise 0619–8-2-67
- My What a Shame / The Inside Outside Caspar Milquetoast Eskimo Flash—Reprise 0653
- Tell Someone You Love Them / General Outlne—Reprise 0698–5-29-68
- Thru Spray Colored Glasses / Someday—Uni 55127
- Hawley / Let's Talk it Over—Columbia 4-44975–1969
- Lady Love / A Certain Sound—Reprise 0965–10-14-70
- I'm a Fool -- Reprise R (Mono)/RS (Stereo) 6176—U.S. #51, 9/65
- Our Time's Coming—Reprise R/RS 6194—U.S. #119, 2/66
- Memories Are Made of This—Reprise R/RS 6198–1966
- Souvenir—Reprise R/RS 6224–1966
- Follow Me Original Soundtrack -- Uni ST73056–1969
- The Rebel Kind: The Best of Dino, Desi & Billy -- Sundazed, 1996
- Gary James, Interview with Billy Hinsche; www.classicbands.com.
- Contrary to the liner notes on their first album, Billy Hinsche did not meet the others by virtue of his father becoming wealthy selling real estate to Dean Martin, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. See Gary James, Interview with Billy Hinsche; www.classicbands.com.
- Richie Unterberger, Biography of Dino, Desi & Billy; www.allmusic.com.
- Red West, the co-writer, with Joey Cooper, of "I'm a Fool", based the song on Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel". See I'm a Fool Songfacts
- Written by Lee Hazlewood.
- For Billy Hinsche, the connection to the Beach Boys became longstanding. He became a touring member of the band, commencing in 1974, following his completion of university studies. Hinsche's sister also married Beach Boy Carl Wilson.
- Such as Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" and The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", both on the group's first album.
- Jason Ankeny, Review of Follow Me soundtrack; www.allmusic.com.
- Live in Vegas (1999) and Live from Boulder City (2001). See "All in the Family" entry of May 28, 2002; www.beachboysfanclub.com.
- Linda Seida, Biography of Ricci, Desi & Billy; www.allmusic.com.
- Status of Ricci Desi Billy; www.riccidesibilly.com.
- Three songs sung by Dino, Desi & Billy, "Thru Spray Colored Glasses" (co-written by Stu Phillips and David Gates), "Like The Wind And Sea" (co-written by Phillips and Ronnie Franklin) and "Just Lookin' For Someone" (co-written by Phillips and Gates). See Follow Me soundtrack particulars; www.discogs.com.