Buddy Greco

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Buddy Greco
Buddy Greco 1962
Greco in 1962
Background information
Birth name Armando Joseph Greco
Born (1926-08-14)August 14, 1926
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died January 10, 2017(2017-01-10) (aged 90)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Genres Jazz, traditional pop, country, soundtrack
Occupation(s) Singer, musician, arranger
Instruments Piano
Years active 1942–2017
Labels Bainbridge, Kapp, London, Epic, Fontana, Reprise, Pye
Associated acts Benny Goodman
Website www.buddygreco.com

Armando Joseph "Buddy" Greco (August 14, 1926 – January 10, 2017) was an American jazz and pop singer and pianist, who had a long career in the US and UK and was good friends with the Rat Pack, an American group of entertainers. His recordings, in several genres including jazz, pop, and country, have sold millions of records, including "Oh Look A-There Ain't She Pretty", "Up, Up and Away", and "Around the World".[1] His most successful single was "The Lady Is a Tramp", which sold over one million copies.[2] During his career, he recorded over sixty albums. He conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, performed for Queen Elizabeth II, and with the Beatles.[1]

Music career[edit]

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

Buddy Greco was born Armando Joseph Greco to an Italian-American family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His mother introduced him to the piano at age four. As a child he sang on the radio. Later, while still a teenager, he performed in Philadelphia's best night clubs. At age 16, Greco was hired by legendary clarinetist and swing band leader Benny Goodman. He spent four years touring the world with the Goodman orchestra playing piano, singing, and arranging.[1][3][4][5]

After leaving Goodman at the still young age of 20, he returned to nightclubs. In 1951 Greco launched his recording career signing with several major labels, including Coral, Kapp, Epic and Frank Sinatra's Reprise.

In the 1960s his career expanded into movies and television. In 1967 Greco shared hosting duties with comedian George Carlin on the CBS television series Away We Go, which replaced the Jackie Gleason Show during the summer. Guests he introduced and performed with during this 14-week run included jazz artists Buddy Rich and Carmen McRae, soul and rock vocalists The 5th Dimension and Spanky and Our Gang, top comedians Rodney Dangerfield and Richard Pryor, and Broadway stars Gregory Hines and Michele Lee. He had a featured role in the motion picture The Girl Who Knew Too Much.[1]

In 1969 he formed a duo with Ron Escheté. For two years they appeared together on several talk and variety shows, including The Mike Douglas Show.[6] Also that year, Greco had an album released on Scepter Records, which Tom Murray of the Calgary Herald would refer to 48 years later as "a strange and beautiful mutant of its time". The album was Let The Sunshine In. It included the songs, "Let The Sunshine In", "Everybody Gets To Go To The Moon", and "You're My World". The album also included "Spinning Wheel" by David Clayton-Thomas, "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Gamble and Huff / Jerry Butler and "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan.[7][8]

Las Vegas and Palm Springs[edit]

Greco met his fifth and last wife, Lezlie Anders, while she was a Las Vegas performer. Working as his supporting act, she first met Greco when the two of them stepped out, together, on to the stage of the Desert Inn. After marrying, they worked and toured together.[9]

In 1992, Greco began a 13-week Las Vegas run at the Starlight Room at Stars' Desert Inn. This engagement ushered in the second phase of Greco's career, gaining him lasting recognition. The following year he was added to the Philadelphia Music Alliance's Walk of Fame. Shortly after, he toured Italy, France, Australia, and England.[10]

While living in Palm Springs, Greco opened a small club. The walls were decorated with pictures of Greco, the Rat Pack, and other celebrity friends. The room was arranged by his wife. He performed there often and it became a popular place for stars to dine. But he closed it and moved to England.[11]

Living in Palm Desert, California, he continued to appear at his club in Cathedral City, California,[12] until it closed in August 2009.

In 2004, he and Anders were headliners with The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies at the Plaza Theatre in Palm Springs, California.[13][14]

Life in Britain[edit]

Greco first became acquainted with Great Britain in 1949. He spent many years performing in Britain's clubs. He moved to Essex, keeping his Palm Springs, California property as a vacation home.[4]

In 2008, Greco and Anders toured the UK. Together they performed with the BBC Big Band and appeared in concert at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London. In August of that year, Greco was the first Las Vegas headliner to star at a British casino when he performed in cabaret at the Circus Casino, Star City, Birmingham. In April 2010, he performed a salute to Frank Sinatra for BBC Radio 2 with the 42-piece BBC Concert Orchestra. He toured the UK for over 30 dates from July 2010 with the Swinging Las Vegas Legends Show.

In 2010, Greco and his wife produced the stage show "Fever! The Music of Miss Peggy Lee", which met with critical acclaim at its London West End opening. The show reflects the life and music of Peggy Lee, a personal friend of Lezlie, who inspired the show. Greco played piano and conducted the orchestra while Lezlie sang. The show also received positive reviews touring the U.S.[9]

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 2012, Greco again toured the UK, this time in smaller venues, including Thameside Theatre Stage,[15] and The Broadway in Essex.[16]

In 2013, Greco celebrated his 80th year in show business with a concert in Southend, Essex. Stars such as the Rat Pack cast, Atila Huseyin, Kenny Lynch, Paul Young and Michelle Collins were present and took part throughout the evening. Greco and his wife also performed together for the occasion.[17]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Inductee, Walk of Fame, Philadelphia Music Alliance
  • Appears in Encyclopedia of Great Musicians and the Encyclopedia of Great Jazz Singers and Musicians[1]
  • Inducted into the Grand Order of Water Rats in 2011.

Personal life[edit]

Greco married five times.[18] His first wife was Sally Baionno. Wed in 1947; they divorced in 1962. He was married to Dani Crayne from 1961 until they divorced in 1974.[18] In 1974 Greco was married to Margret Kinley until their 1977 divorce. Greco later married Jackie Sabatino in 1977. They eventually divorced. He married Lezlie Anders on 14 April 1995. Greco had three children with Baionno, one with Kinley and three more with Sabatino.[18]

Greco died on January 10, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada, aged 90.[19] He was survived by his wife, Anders and his seven children.

Partial discography[edit]

Buddy Greco, by Allan Warren
  • Around the World (Epic)
  • Lady Is a Tramp (Epic)
  • Buddy Greco at Mister Kelly's 1956
  • My Buddy (Epic) 1959
  • Broadway Melodies (Kapp) 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 (Epic) 1964
  • I Love a Piano (Studio 2 Stereo) 1965
  • In a Brand New Bag (Reprise) 1966
  • Big Band and Ballads (Reprise) 1966 [20]
  • Away, We Go (Reprise) 1966[20]
  • Let the Sunshine In (Wand) 1970[20]
  • It's My Life (Pye) 1972[20]
  • Movin' On (Pye) 1973[20]
  • Buddy Greco 'Live' (Pye) 1974[20]
  • Live at the Sands (Picc-a-Dilly) 1980[20]
  • Ready for Your Love 1984[21][22]
  • It's Magic (Prestige) 1990[20]
  • Round Midnight (Bay Cities) 1992[20]
  • All-Time Favourite's Featuring Buddy Greco (Sutton)[20]
  • Buddy Greco Sings (Boulevard)[20]
  • Buddy Greco (World Record Club)[20]

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
1972 "From Atlanta to Goodbye" 34
  • A "The Lady Is a Tramp" peaked at No. 26 in UK Singles charts.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Summers, Kim. "Buddy Greco | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  2. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 135. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  3. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 43. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  4. ^ a b "My Hols". The Sunday Times, 7 April 2013: 27, Print.
  5. ^ "I Would Die If I Quit". Liverpool Daily Echo, 13 August 2010: 11, Print.
  6. ^ Unknown. "Ron Escheté - Biography." Roneschete.com, 2014. Web. 20 Jan 2014.
  7. ^ Discogs - Buddy Greco – Let The Sunshine In
  8. ^ Calgary Herald, 15 Jul. 2017 - Bob Dylan inspires covers and controversy - TOM MURRAY
  9. ^ a b "Rat pack legend tells Peggy's story". Croydon Advertiser, 4 November. 2011: 49, Print.
  10. ^ "Six decades and 62 albums later, this showman goes on", St. Petersburg Times, 24th January. 1997: 5, Print.
  11. ^ "Performer finds heavenly Springs". The Gold Coast Bulletin, pg. 123, September 8, 2007.
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ "Palm Springs Follies Opens". Inland Empire Business Journal. Daily Planet Publishing, Inc. November 1, 2004. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  14. ^ "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. 
  15. ^ "Legend Buddy Is Back On Stage". Thurrock Gazette, 15 April 2012: Print.
  16. ^ "An Evening With Buddy Greco". Brentwood Gazette, 25 January 2012: 3, Print.
  17. ^ "Interview with Buddy Greco." Personal interview. 28 December 2013.
  18. ^ a b c "Buddy Greco : Biography". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  19. ^ Mike Barnes (January 10, 2017). "Buddy Greco, Jazz Pianist, Vocalist and Las Vegas Mainstay, Dies at 90". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 11, 2017. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Buddy Greco." Discogs, 2014. Web. 19 Jan 2014.
  21. ^ Billboard Dec 22, 1984 - Page 72 "BUDDY GRECO Ready For Your Love PRODUCERS: Buddy Greco. Art Clausen Bainbridge BT 6255 With a full orchestra dotted with top L.A. players, Greco tackles a program of newer, lesser-known, adult pop titles, with the lone recent hit ..."
  22. ^ Show Music - Volume 4, Issue 1 - Page 43 1985 "Jazz singer Buddy Greco's READY FOR TOUR LOVE (BT 6255) features nine recent vintage songs, with "The Hungry Years," "Love Won't Let Me Wait," "Me and Mrs. Jones," and "Ready For Your Love" included on the album. I AM WHAT I AM ..."

External links[edit]