Al Martino

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Al Martino
Martino in 2005
Martino in 2005
Background information
Birth nameJasper Cini
Born(1927-10-07)October 7, 1927
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedOctober 13, 2009(2009-10-13) (aged 82)
Springfield, Pennsylvania, U.S.
GenresJazz, swing, traditional pop, easy listening
Occupation(s)Singer, actor
Years active1948–2009

Al Martino (born Jasper Cini; October 7, 1927 – October 13, 2009) was an American traditional pop and jazz singer. He had his greatest success as a singer between the early 1950s and mid-1970s, being described as "one of the great Italian American pop crooners",[1] and also became known as an actor, particularly for his role as singer Johnny Fontane in The Godfather.

Early life[edit]

Jasper Cini was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[2] The name Jasper was an anglicisation of his father's name, Gasparino. His parents were immigrants from the region of Abruzzo, in the town of Nereto, Italy, who ran a construction business. While growing up, he worked alongside his brothers, Pasquale and Francis as a bricklayer.[citation needed] He aspired to become a singer, emulating artists such as Al Jolson and Perry Como, and by the success of a family friend, Alfredo Cocozza, who had changed his name to Mario Lanza.[1]


After serving with the U.S. Navy in World War II, during which he took part in the Iwo Jima invasion, in which he was wounded, Cini began his singing career.[3] Encouraged by Lanza, he adopted the stage name Al Martino, based on the name of his good friend Lorraine Cianfrani's (née Losavio) husband Alfred Martin Cianfrani, and began singing in local nightclubs. In 1948, he moved to New York City, and in 1951 his first release was issued by the Jubilee label, "Heaven Help Me (I'm in Love)", coupled with "Hurry Home to Me".[4][5] The following year, he won first place on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts television program with a performance of Como's hit "If".[6]

Martino in 1952 when "Here in My Heart" topped the music charts

As a result, he won a recording contract with the Philadelphia-based independent record label BBS, where he recorded "Here in My Heart". Lanza's label, RCA Victor, had asked Lanza to record the song, but Martino called Lanza and pleaded with him to let Martino's version have a clear chance.[1][2] The song spent three weeks at No. 1 on the US pop charts in June 1952, earning Martino a gold disc,[7] and later in the year, also reached the top of the UK charts. It was number one in the first UK Singles chart, published by the New Musical Express on November 14, 1952, putting him into the Guinness Book of World Records.[8] "Here in My Heart" remained in the top position for nine weeks in the UK.[9]

The record's success led to a deal with Capitol Records, and he released three more singles: "Take My Heart", "Rachel", and "When You're Mine" through 1953, all of which hit the U.S. top 40.[1] However, his success also attracted the attention of the Mafia, which bought out Martino's management contract and ordered him to pay $75,000 as a safeguard for their investment.[1] After making a down-payment to appease them, he moved to Britain. His popularity allowed him to continue to perform and record successfully in the UK, headlining at the London Palladium and having six further British chart hits in the period up to 1955, including "Now" and "Wanted". However, his work received no exposure back in the US.[1] In 1958, thanks to the intervention of a family friend, Martino was allowed to return to the U.S. and resume his recording career, but he faced difficulties in re-establishing himself, especially with the arrival of rock and roll. In 1959, Martino signed with 20th Fox Records;[10] his deal scored him two albums,[11] and four singles released, none of which was a major hit. The success of his 1962 album The Exciting Voice of Al Martino secured him a new contract with Capitol, and was followed by a mostly Italian-language album, The Italian Voice of Al Martino, which featured his version of the then internationally popular song "Al Di Là". He also made several high-profile television appearances, helping to re-establish his visibility.[1]

In 1963, he had his biggest U.S. chart success with "I Love You Because", a cover of Leon Payne's 1950 country music hit. Arranged by Belford Hendricks, Martino's version went to number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, and number one on the Easy Listening chart. The album of the same name went top 10 in the Billboard 200. Martino had four other U.S. top 10 hits in 1963 and 1964 — "Painted, Tainted Rose" (1963), "I Love You More and More Every Day", "Tears and Roses", and "Silver Bells" (all 1964).[1] He also sang the title song for the 1964 film, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. One of his biggest hits was "Spanish Eyes", achieving several gold and platinum discs for sales.[12] Recorded in 1965, the song reached number five on the UK Singles chart when reissued in 1973.[9] The song, with a tune by Bert Kaempfert originally titled "Moon Over Naples", is among the 50 most-played songs worldwide.[13]

Martino's run of chart success faded after the mid-1960s, although many of his records continued to reach the U.S. Hot 100. Another later hit was a disco version of "Volare", (also known as "Nel blu, Dipinto di Blu"). In 1976, it reached number one on the Italian and Flemish charts, and was in the top 10 in Spain, the Netherlands, and France, as well as in many other European countries. In 1993, Martino recorded a new studio album with German producer Dieter Bohlen (former member of pop duo Modern Talking, producer of international artists such as Chris Norman of Smokie, Bonnie Tyler, Dionne Warwick, Engelbert or Errol Brown of Hot Chocolate). The single "Spanish Ballerina" (written in Bohlen's europop sound) reached number 93 in the German single charts.[14]


Apart from singing, Martino played the role of Johnny Fontane in the 1972 film The Godfather, as well as singing the film's theme, "Speak Softly Love". Martino had been told about the character by a friend who had read the eponymous novel and felt Martino represented the character of Johnny Fontane.[15] Martino contacted producer Albert S. Ruddy, who initially gave him the part.[15] Martino was stripped of the part, however, after Francis Ford Coppola came on board as director and awarded the role to singer Vic Damone.[15] Martino, in turn, went to Russell Bufalino, his godfather and a crime boss, who then orchestrated the publication of various news articles that claimed Coppola had been unaware of Ruddy having given Martino the part.[15] Damone eventually dropped the role because he did not want to provoke the Bufalino crime family (in addition, Damone felt he was being paid too little for the role).[16][15] Ultimately, the part of Johnny Fontane was given to Martino.[15][16] He played the same role in The Godfather Part III and The Godfather Trilogy: 1901–1980 (the television miniseries that combines The Godfather and The Godfather Part II into one film).

Martino later returned to acting, playing aging crooner Sal Stevens in the short film Cutout, which appeared in film festivals around the world in 2006.


Martino was married first to Jenny Furini; then to Gwendolyn Wenzel; and, finally, to Judi Stilwell Martino, to whom he was married at the time of his death. He had three children: Alfred Cini, Alana Cini, and Alison Martino.[17] Alison Martino is a writer and television producer of such programs as Mysteries and Scandals and Headliners and Legends.[18]


Martino died from a heart attack[19][20] on October 13, 2009, at his home in Springfield, Pennsylvania, six days after his 82nd birthday. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Awards and honors[edit]


Year Title Role
1972 The Godfather Johnny Fontane
1990 The Godfather Part III


Studio albums[edit]


  • 1959: Al Martino (20th Century Fox)
  • 1960: Swing Along With Al Martino (20th Century Fox)
  • 1962: The Exciting Voice of Al Martino (U.S. No. 109) Capitol Records
  • 1962: The Italian Voice of Al Martino (U.S. No. 57)
  • 1963: When Your Love Has Gone (20th Century Fox)
  • 1963: I Love You Because (U.S. No. 7)
  • 1963: Painted, Tainted Rose (U.S. No. 9)
  • 1963: Love Notes
  • 1963: Sings Great Italian Love Songs
  • 1964: A Merry Christmas (U.S. Christmas No. 8)
  • 1964: I Love You More and More Every Day/Tears and Roses (U.S. No. 31)
  • 1964: Living a Lie (U.S. No. 13)
  • 1965: My Cherie (U.S. No. 19)
  • 1965: Somebody Else is Taking My Place (U.S. No. 42)
  • 1965: We Could (U.S. No. 41)
  • 1966: Spanish Eyes (U.S. No. 8)
  • 1966: Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep (U.S. No. 116)
  • 1966: This is Love (U.S. No. 57)
  • 1967: Daddy's Little Girl (U.S. No. 23)
  • 1967: This Love for You (U.S. No. 99)
  • 1967: Mary in the Morning (U.S. No. 63)
  • 1968: Love is Blue (U.S. No. 56)
  • 1968: This is Al Martino (U.S. No. 129)
  • 1968: Wake Up to Me Gentle
  • 1969: Jean (U.S. No. 196)
  • 1969: Sausalito (U.S. No. 189)
  • 1970: Can't Help Falling in Love (U.S. No. 184)
  • 1970: My Heart Sings (U.S. No. 172)
  • 1972: Love Theme from 'The Godfather' (U.S. No. 138)
  • 1972: Summer of '42 (U.S. No. 204)
  • 1973: Country Style
  • 1974: I Won't Last a Day Without You
  • 1975: To the Door of the Sun (U.S. No. 129)
  • 1976: In Concert: Recorded With the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (live) RockyRock
  • 1976: Sing My Love Songs
  • 1978: The Next Hundred Years
  • 1978: Al Martino Sings (20th Century Fox)
  • 1978: Al Martino
  • 1982: All of Me (MovieTone)
  • 1990: Quando,Quando, Quando (Dynamic)
  • 1991: Al Martino: In Concert (Prestige)
  • 1993: The Voice to Your Heart; produced by Dieter Bohlen in Germany (Dino Music)
  • 2000: Style (Varèse Sarabande)
  • 2006: Come Share the Wine (Sin-Drome)
  • 2011: Thank You



  • 196?: Romantic World of Al Martino (Capitol)
  • 1965: That Old Feeling (MovieTone)
  • 1966: Don't Go to Strangers (Pickwick)
  • 1968: Al Martino (Guest Star)
  • 1968: The Best of Al Martino (U.S. No. 108)
  • 1970: Here in My Heart/Yesterday
  • 1971: I Wish You Love/Losing You
  • 1971: Al Martino (3 LP Set)
  • 1978: Time After Time (Springboard)
  • 1990: Greatest Hits (Curb)
  • 1992: Capitol Collectors Series
  • 1996: 20 Great Love songs (Disky)
  • 1998: Touch of Class (Disky)
  • 1999: The Legendary Al Martino (Metro)
  • 1999: The Al Martino Collection: I Love You Because (Razor & Tie)
  • 1999: I Love You Because/My Cherie
  • 2000: Hits of Al Martino
  • 2004: Essential Al Martino (Fuel 2000)
  • 2005: Ultimate Al Martino
  • 2006: We Could/Think I'll Go Somewhere And Cry Myself to Sleep
  • 2006: Very Best of Al Martino
  • 2007: An Introduction to Al Martino (Varèse Sarabande)
  • 2012: Makin' Whoopee (Sepia)
  • 2013: Take My Heart (Jasmine)
  • 2018: The Singles Collection: 1952-1962 (Acrobat)



Year Titles (A-side/B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
U.S. Billboard[26] U.S. Cash Box[27] U.S. AC[26] UK[9] Album
1952 "Here in My Heart"
b/w "I Cried Myself to Sleep"
1 2 1 Non-album tracks
"Take My Heart"
b/w "I Never Cared"
12 9
"I've Never Seen"
b/w "Say You'll Wait for Me"
1953 "Now"
b/w "In All This World"
25 3
b/w "One Lonely Night"
30 21 10
"Here in My Arms"
b/w "There's Music in You"
"When You're Mine"
b/w "This Night I'll Remember"
"All I Want Is a Chance"
b/w "You Can't Go On Forever Breaking My Heart"
1954 "Melancholy Serenade"
b/w "Way, Paesano (Uei...Paesano)"
b/w "There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight"
"The Story of Tina"
b/w "Say It Again"
"Don't Go to Strangers"
b/w "When"
1955 "The Man from Laramie"
b/w "To Please My Lady"
"Love Is Eternal"
b/w "The Snowy, Snowy Mountains"
1956 "A Love to Call My Own"
b/w "The Girl I Left in Rome"
1957 "I'm Sorry"
b/w "I'm a Funny Guy"
1958 "Here in My Heart"
b/w "Two Lovers"
1959 "I Can't Get You Out of My Heart"
b/w "Two Hearts Are Better Than One"
44 43
"Darling, I Love You"
b/w "The Memory of You"
63 52
1960 "Summertime"
b/w "I Sold My Heart" (Non-album track)
49 Swing Along With Al Martino
"Dearest (Cara)"
b/w "Hello My Love"
106 Non-album tracks
"Only the Broken Hearted"
b/w "Journey to Love"
"Our Concerto"
b/w "In My Heart of Hearts"
"Come Back to Me"
b/w "It's All Over But the Crying"
1961 "Little Boy, Little Girl"
b/w "My Side of the Story"
109 92
"Here in My Heart" (re-recording)
b/w "Granada"
86 102 17 The Exciting Voice Of Al Martino
b/w "Another Time, Another Place"
Non-album tracks
1962 "There's No Tomorrow"
b/w "The Memory of You"
"Love, Where Are You Now (Toselli Serenade)"
b/w "Exodus"
119 The Exciting Voice of Al Martino
"Because You're Mine"
b/w "Make Me Believe"
1963 "I Love You Because"
b/w "Merry-Go-Round"
3 3 1 48 I Love You Because
"Painted, Tainted Rose"
b/w "That's The Way It's Got to Be"
15 19 3 Painted, Tainted Rose
"Living a Lie"
b/w "I Love You Truly" (from Painted, Tainted Rose)
22 23 8 Living A Lie
1964 "My Side of the Story"
b/w "It's All Over But the Crying"
Non-album tracks
"I Love You More and More Every Day"
b/w "I'm Living My Heaven with You"
9 11 3 I Love You More and More Every Day
"Tears and Roses"
b/w "A Year Ago Tonight" (Non-album track)
20 18 7
"Always Together" / 33 41 4 We Could
"Thank You for Loving Me" 118 96 Non-album tracks
"I Can't Get You Out of My Heart" (reissue)
b/w "Come Back to Me"
"We Could"
b/w "Sunrise to Sunrise"
41 44 6 We Could
"Silver Bells"
b/w "You're All I Want for Christmas"
145 A Merry Christmas
1965 "My Heart Would Know"
b/w "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte"
52 50 11 Somebody Else Is Taking My Place
"Somebody Else Is Taking My Place" / 53 64 11
"With All My Heart" 122 99
"My Cherie" / 88 79 26 My Cherie
"Ramona" tag Painted, Tainted Rose
"Forgive Me"
b/w "What Now, My Love" (from My Cherie)
61 73 7 Spanish Eyes
1966 "Spanish Eyes"
b/w "Melody of Love" (From My Cherie)
15 16 1 5 A
"Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep"
b/w "Hello Memory"
30 33 2
b/w "The Minute You're Gone"
57 61 3 Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep
"Just Yesterday"
b/w "By the River of the Roses" (from Spanish Eyes)
77 71 12 This Is Love
"The Wheel of Hurt"
b/w "Somewhere in This World"
59 57 12 Daddy's Little Girl
1967 "Daddy's Little Girl"
b/w "Devotion" (From This Love for You)
42 46 2
"Mary in the Morning"
b/w "I Love You and You Love Me"
27 27 1
"More Than the Eye Can See"
b/w "Red Is Red" (from Mary in the Morning)
54 47 1 This Is Al Martino
"A Voice in the Choir"
b/w "The Glory of Love" (from This Is Al Martino)
80 81 5 Non-album track
1968 "Love Is Blue"
b/w "I'm Carryin' the World on My Shoulders"
57 60 3 Love Is Blue
"Lili Marlene"
b/w "Georgia"
87 82 7
"Wake Up to Me Gentle"
b/w "If You Must Leave My Life"
120 125 21 Wake Up To Me Gentle
1969 "I Can't Help It"
b/w "I Can See Only You"
97 93 10
b/w "Take My Hand for a While"
99 62 13 Sausalito
"I Started Loving You Again" B
b/w "Let Me Stay Awhile" (from Jean)
86 74 19 Non-album track
1970 "Can't Help Falling in Love"
b/w "You're All the Woman That I Need"
51 57 5 Can't Help Falling In Love
"Walking in the Sand"
b/w "One More Mile (and Darlin', I'll Be Home)" (from Can't Help Falling in Love)
123 9 To the Door of the Sun
"True Love Is Greater Than Friendship"
b/w "The Call"
110 33 My Heart Sings
1971 "Come Into My Life"
b/w "One Pair of Hands" (from My Heart Sings)
104 30 To the Door of the Sun
"Losing My Mind"
b/w "Too Many Mornings" (Non-album track)
39 Summer of '42
"This Summer Knows"
b/w "More Now Than Ever"
1972 "Speak Softly Love"
b/w "I Have But One Heart"
80 81 24 Love Theme from 'The Godfather
"Canta Libre"
b/w "Take Me Back"
37 Non-album tracks
1973 "Hey Mama"
b/w "If I Give My Heart to You" (Non-album track)
The Very Best Of Al Martino
"Daddy Let's Play"
b/w "Mary Go Lightly (Como Un Nino)" (from To the Door of the Sun)
Country Style
1975 "To the Door of the Sun"
b/w "Mary Go Lightly (Como Un Nino)"
17 21 7 To the Door of the Sun
1976 "Volare"
b/w "You Belong to Me"
33 41 9 Sing My Love Songs
"My Thrill"
b/w "The More I See You"
"Sing My Love Song" (With The Mike Curb Congregation)
b/w "May I Have the Next Dream with You"
1977 "Kentucky Morning"
b/w "Sweet Marlorene"
110 26 The Next Hundred Years
1978 "The Next Hundred Years"
b/w "After the Lovin'"
49 55 6
"One Last Time"
b/w "Here I Go Again"
1979 "Torero"
b/w "Now That I Found You"
Non-album tracks
1980 "Almost Gone"
B-side unknown
1981 "Look Around (You'll Find Me There)"
b/w "More Than Ever Now"
1982 "You and I"
b/w "If I Should Love Again"
"What Your Love Did for Me"
b/w "Warm Is When You Touch Me"
  • A "Spanish Eyes" reached #5 in the UK on re-issue in 1973.[9]
  • B "I Started Loving You Again" also peaked at #69 on Hot Country Songs.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Huey, Steve. "Al Martino Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Velez, A.E. (October 14, 2009). "Al Martino, Singer of Pop Ballads, Is Dead at 82". The New York Times. p. B14.
  3. ^ "Al Martino". Telegraph. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  4. ^ "Jubilee Records Advertisement". Billboard. April 25, 1953. p. 71. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
  5. ^ "Popular Record Reviews". Billboard. April 14, 1951. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955–2002 (1st ed.). Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 446. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
  7. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 61. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  8. ^ Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 7. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  9. ^ a b c d Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 352. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  10. ^ Callahan, Mike; Edwards, David; Eyries, Patrice (February 7, 2006). "20th Century Fox Records". Retrieved March 26, 2011.
  11. ^ Callahan, Mike; Edwards, David; Eyries, Patrice (February 8, 2006). "20th Century Fox Album Discography, Part 1". Retrieved March 26, 2011.
  12. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 194. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  13. ^ "Al Martino Obituary". The Daily Telegraph. October 14, 2009.
  14. ^ "German Single Charts (Dieter Bohlen)". Archived from the original on October 20, 2009.
  15. ^ a b c d e f Mark Seal (March 2009). "The Godfather Wars". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  16. ^ a b Jones 2007, p. 50.
  17. ^ Velez, A. E. (October 14, 2009). "Al Martino, Singer of Pop Ballads, Is Dead at 82". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Stevie St. John (April 2, 2014). "With 'Vintage Los Angeles,' Every Day is 'Throwback Thursday' for Alison Martino". Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  19. ^ "Al Martino Obituary - Philadelphia, PA | Philadelphia Inquirer/Philadelphia Daily News".
  20. ^ "Al Martino". October 22, 2009.
  21. ^ "Al Martino". Hit Parade Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on October 7, 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  22. ^ Goldmine Standard American Records; 1950-1990, by Dave Thompson, Krause Publications, c2012, p. 796, ISBN 978-1-4402-3252-7
  23. ^ "Al Martino". Discogs.
  24. ^ "アイテム検索 - TOWER RECORDS ONLINE".
  25. ^ Label is mainly Capitol Records
  26. ^ a b "Al Martino | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  27. ^ "Cashbox Archives". Cashbox. ISSN 0008-7289. Archived from the original on June 11, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2015.

External links[edit]