Martino in 2005
|Birth name||Jasper Cini|
October 7, 1927|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||October 13, 2009
Springfield, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Genres||Jazz, swing, traditional pop, easy listening|
Al Martino (born Jasper Cini; October 7, 1927 – October 13, 2009) was an American singer and actor. 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", and also became well known as an actor, particularly for his role as singer Johnny Fontane in The Godfather.
Jasper "Al" Cini was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The name Jasper was an anglicisation of his father's name, Gasparino. His parents were immigrants from Abruzzo, Italy, who ran a construction business, and while growing up he worked alongside his brothers as a bricklayer. He was inspired to become a singer by 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.
After serving with the United States Marine Corps in World War II, during which he was part of, and injured in, the Iwo Jima invasion, Cini began his singing career. Encouraged by Lanza, he adopted the stage name Al Martino—based on the name of his good friend Lorraine Cianfrani (née Losavio)'s husband Alfred Martin Cianfrani—and began singing in local nightclubs. In 1948 he moved to New York City, recorded some sides for the Jubilee label, and in 1952 won first place on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts television program with a performance of Como's hit "If".
As a result, he won a recording contract with the Philadelphia-based independent label BBS, where he recorded "Here in My Heart". Lanza's label RCA Victor had asked him to record the song, but Martino called and pleaded with him to let Martino's version have a clear run. The song spent three weeks at No. 1 on the US pop charts in June 1952, earning Martino a gold disc and, later in the year, also reached the top of the UK charts. It was No. 1 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. "Here in My Heart" remained in the top position for nine weeks in the United Kingdom, a record for the longest consecutive run at No. 1 that has only since been beaten by five other songs.
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. 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. 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. In 1958, thanks to the intervention of a family friend, Martino was allowed to return to the US 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; his deal scored him two albums, and 4 singles released, none of which were major hits. 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.
In 1963 he had his biggest US 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 No. 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and No. 1 on the Easy Listening chart. The album of the same name went Top 10 in the Billboard 200. Martino had four other US 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). 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. Recorded in 1965, the song reached No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart when re-issued in 1973. The song, with a tune by Bert Kaempfert originally titled "Moon Over Naples", is among the 50 most played songs worldwide.
Martino's run of chart success faded after the mid-1960s, although many of his records continued to reach the US Hot 100. Another later hit was a disco version of "Volare", (also known as "Nel blu, Dipinto di Blu"). In 1976, it reached No. 1 on the Italian and Flemish charts, and was in the Top Ten in Spain, The Netherlands and France, as well as in many other European countries. In 1993, Martino recorded a new studio album with the German producer, Dieter Bohlen (former member of pop duo Modern Talking, producer of international artists like 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 No. 93 position in the German single charts.
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". He played the same role in The Godfather Part III and The Godfather Trilogy: 1901–1980. He later returned to acting, playing aging crooner Sal Stevens in the short film Cutout, appearing in film festivals around the world in 2006.
Martino died on October 13, 2009 at his childhood home in Springfield, Pennsylvania, six days after his 82nd birthday. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Martino was survived by his widow Judi; his three children, Alison Martino, Alfred Cini, and Alana Cini; and several grandchildren.
Awards and honors
- 1959: Al Martino
- 1960: Swing Along With Al Martino
- 1962: The Exciting Voice of Al Martino (U.S. No. 109)
- 1962: The Italian Voice of Al Martino (U.S. No. 57)
- 1963: I Love You Because (U.S. No. 7)
- 1963: Painted, Tainted Rose (U.S. No. 9)
- 1963: Love Notes
- 1964: A Merry Christmas
- 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)
- 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)
- 1975: To the Door of the Sun (U.S. No. 129)
- 1976: In Concert: Recorded With the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (live)
- 1976: Sing My Love Songs
- 1977: Time after time
- 1978: Al Martino Sings
- 1978: Al Martino
- 1982: All of Me
- 1993: The Voice to Your Heart; produced by Dieter Bohlen in Germany
- 2006: Come Share the Wine
- 2011: Thank You
- 1968: The Best of Al Martino (U.S. No. 108)
- 1999: The Legendary Al Martino
|Year||Title||Album||U.S. Billboard||U.S. Cash Box||U.S. AC||UK|
|1952||"Here in My Heart"||The Exciting Voice of Al Martino||1||2||1|
|"Take My Heart"||12||9|
|"When You're Mine"||27|
|"The Story of Tina"||10|
|1955||"The Man from Laramie"||19|
|1959||"I Can't Get You Out of My Heart"||Al Martino||44||43|
|"Darling, I Love You"||63||52|
|1960||"Summertime"||Swing Along With Al Martino||49|
|1961||"Little Boy, Little Girl"||109||92|
|"Here in My Heart" (re-recording)||86||102||17|
|1962||"Love, Where Are You Now (Toselli Serenade)"||119|
|1963||"I Love You Because"||I Love You Because||3||3||1||48|
|"Painted, Tainted Rose"||Painted, Tainted Rose||15||19||3|
|"Living a Lie"||Living a Lie||22||23||8|
|1964||"Silver Bells"||A Merry Christmas||145|
|"I Love You More and More Every Day"||I Love You More and More Every Day/Tears and Roses||9||11||3|
|"Tears and Roses"||20||18||7|
|"Always Together"||We Could||33||41||4|
|"Thank You For Loving Me"||118||96|
|"I Can't Get You Out of My Heart" (reissue)||99|
|"We Could"||We Could||41||44||6|
|1965||"My Heart Would Know"||52||50||11|
|"Somebody Else is Taking My Place"||53||64||11|
|"With All My Heart"||122||99|
|"My Cherie"||My Cherie||88||79||26|
|"Forgive Me"||Spanish Eyes||61||73||7|
|1966||"Spanish Eyes"||Spanish Eyes||15||16||1||5 A|
|"Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep"||30||33||2|
|"Wiederseh'n"||Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep||57||61||3|
|"Just Yesterday"||This Is Love||77||71||12|
|"The Wheel of Hurt"||59||57||12|
|1967||"Daddy's Little Girl"||Daddy's Little Girl||42||46||2|
|"Mary in the Morning"||Mary in the Morning||27||27||1|
|"More Than the Eye Can See"||54||47||1|
|"A Voice In the Choir"||80||81||5|
|1968||"Love Is Blue"||Love Is Blue||57||60||3|
|"Wake Up to Me Gentle"||120||125||21|
|1969||"I Can't Help It"||97||93||10|
|"I Started Loving You Again" B||86||74||19|
|1970||"Can't Help Falling in Love"||Can't Help Falling in Love||51||57||5|
|"Walking in the Sand"||123||9|
|"True Love Is Greater Than Friendship"||110||33|
|1971||"Come into My Life"||104||30|
|"Losing My Mind"||39|
|1972||"Speak Softly Love"||Love Theme from 'The Godfather'||80||81||24|
|1975||"To the Door of the Sun (Alle Porte del Sole)"||To the Door of the Sun||17||21||7|
|1976||"Volare"||Sing My Love Songs||33||41||9|
|"Sing My Love Song"||24|
|1977||"Kentucky Morning"||Love Is Blue||110||26|
|1978||"The Next Hundred Years"||Al Martino||49||55||6|
|"One Last Time"||44|
- A "Spanish Eyes" reached number 5 in the UK on re-issue in 1973.
- B "I Started Loving You Again" also peaked at number 69 on Hot Country Songs.
- List of people from Philadelphia
- List of Italian American actors
- List of Italian American entertainers
- List of acts who appeared on American Bandstand
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart
- List of artists who reached number one on the UK Singles Chart
- List of Capitol Records artists
- List of crooners
- Huey, Steve. "Al Martino Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
- Velez, A.E. (14 October 2009). "Al Martino, Singer of Pop Ballads, Is Dead at 82". The New York Times. p. B14.
- "Al Martino". Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-08-17.
- "Jubilee Records Advertisement". Billboard. April 25, 1953. p. 71. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
- "Popular Record Reviews". Billboard. April 14, 1951. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955–2002 (1st ed.). Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 446. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 61. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- 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.
- "I Believe" (11 weeks), "Cara Mia" (10), "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" (16), "Love Is All Around" (15), "Umbrella" (10)
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 352. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Callahan, Mike; Edwards, David; Eyries, Patrice (February 7, 2006). "20th Century Fox Records". Retrieved March 26, 2011.
- Callahan, Mike; Edwards, David; Eyries, Patrice (February 8, 2006). "20th Century Fox Album Discography, Part 1". Retrieved March 26, 2011.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 194. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- "Al Martino Obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 14 October 2009.
- "German Single Charts (Dieter Bohlen)". Archived from the original on 2009-10-24.
- "Al Martino". Hit Parade Hall of Fame. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
- "Al Martino | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-08-17.
- "Cashbox Archives". Cashbox. ISSN 0008-7289.
- Official website
- Al Martino discography at Discogs
- Al Martino at the Internet Movie Database
- Al Martino at Find a Grave