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Steve Alaimo (born December 6, 1939) is an American teen idol pop singer in the early 1960s who later became record producer and label owner, but he is perhaps best known for hosting and co-producing Dick Clark's Where the Action Is in the late 1960s. He had nine singles to chart in the Billboard Hot 100 without once reaching the Top 40 in his career, the most by any artist.
Early years and the Redcoats
Alaimo was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and moved to Rochester, New York, at the age of five. He entered the music business during his time as a pre-med student at the University of Miami, joining his cousin's instrumental rock band the Redcoats, becoming the guitarist, and eventually, the singer. The Redcoats consisted of Jim Alaimo on rhythm guitar, Brad Shapiro on bass, and Jim "Chris" Christy on drums. After playing a Sock hop held by local disc jockey Bob Green and label owner Henry Stone, the band earned a record deal with Stone's Marlin Records. In 1959, "I Want You To Love Me" became a regional hit for the band. Green became Alaimo's manager, ultimately giving up the role to Stone. That same year, Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars came to Miami needing a band to back up artists, so the Redcoats became that band.
The Redcoats broke up in 1960, and under Stone's tutelage, Alaimo became a "blue-eyed soul singer" with an all African-American back-up band. Alaimo and the group became the house band for a local club known as Edan Roc. Despite his rising local fame, he released two solo albums that didn't exactly earn him the national spotlight. During this time, Stone put Alaimo to work as a promotion man for Stone's Tone Distributors, which acquainted with the music industry at large.
National recording career
Through his promotion job, Alaimo landed his first major record deal with Checker Records, a subsidiary of Chess Records, in 1961. There, he struck a minor amount of gold in 1963 with his single "Everyday I Have to Cry Some", peaking at Number 46 on the Billboard Charts. The song was also a top 5 hit in Miami, on local radio stations WQAM and WFUN. Later that year, Alaimo left Checker for Imperial Records, and ABC Records, but the fame of his recording career would soon be eclipsed.
TV host: Where the Action Is
Remembering the favor the Redcoats had done him, Dick Clark wanted to hire the band again for the music show Where the Action Is, but the Redcoats had broken up. Instead, Clark hired Alaimo as the male host and music director. As music director, Alaimo took the opportunity to promote his own records on air; however, he rarely had time to record new songs. Alaimo would also become co-producer of the show, which lasted from 1965-1966.
Music production and acting
After the show's end, Alaimo signed with Atlantic Records/Atco Records. In the mid-1960s, he began producing music for groups such as Sam & Dave, Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes, and The 31st of February. Alaimo bought partial songwriting credits to some of Gregg Allman's songs recorded with the 31st of February. This became a very fertile period, with Alaimo producing many hit records. He also briefly tried his hand at acting during this time, appearing in four feature films, such as 1967's Wild Rebels and 1970's exploitation crime drama The Naked Zoo, starring Rita Hayworth. Most of his films became forgotten fodder, although Wild Rebels got renewed interest after being featured in an episode of TV's Mystery Science Theater 3000.
In 1969, Henry Stone reunited with Alaimo, who set up Alston Records as an outlet for Alaimo's music. Alaimo quit performing to focus on running a record label. In 1972, Timmy Thomas hit with "Why Can't We Live Together" for Stone's Glade Records, which released the single in partnership with Atlantic Records. Stone then consolidated many of his labels under the TK Records umbrella with Alaimo in 1973, releasing records independent of the major label system. In 1974, Harry Wayne Casey and Rick Finch presented a demo to Stone and Alaimo, and they advised having George McCrae sing the final version. The song, "Rock Your Baby", charted as a number-one single in 1974. Shortly afterward, the business partnership of Casey, Finch, Alaimo and Stone would achieve their greatest commercial success with the heyday of KC & the Sunshine Band.
TK Records closed in 1981, forcing Henry Stone to seek out Morris Levy for financial relief and forging a new partnership. Alaimo, edged out of the deal, had fallen on hard times. In 1987, Alaimo was back on his feet, forming Vision Records with engineering producers Ron and Howard Albert. Vision specialized in top-notch recordings for stars who had once graced Criteria Studios during the 1970s. The label also dabbled in the production and promotion of Miami Bass records, including artists such as Beatmaster Clay D.
- 1961: Twist With Steve Alaimo
- 1962: Mashed Potatoes
- 1963: Every Day I Have to Cry
- 1963: Steve Alaimo
- 1965: Starring Steve Alaimo
- 1965: Where the Action Is
- 1966: Steve Alaimo Sings and Swings
- 1963: "Every Day I Have to Cry" (US #46) (from the album Every Day I Have to Cry)
- 1963: "Michael" (US #100)
- 1965: "Real Live Girl" (US #77) (from the album Steve Alaimo Sings and Swings)
- 1965: "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" (US #89) (from the album Steve Alaimo Sings and Swings)
- 1966: "So Much Love" (US #92)
- 1971: "When My Little Girl Is Smiling" (US #72)
- 1972: "Amerikan Music" (US #79)
- Jones, Roben (2010-02-01). Memphis Boys: the story of American Studios. Univ. Press of Mississippi. pp. 156–. ISBN 978-1-60473-401-0. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002. Record Research. p. 10. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- "The Naked Zoo (1970)". Accessed March 11, 2013.
- Beaulieu, Trace (1996). The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. Bantam Books. p. 26. ISBN 978-0553377835.
- Mclane & Wong's Steve Alaimo Bio
- A collection of rare Redcoats singles and live performances
- Steve Alaimo Bio at Audio Vision studios