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Frank Guida (May 26, 1922 – May 19, 2007) was a Sicilian-American songwriter and music producer credited with discovering Gary U.S. Bonds, whose hits, including "New Orleans" and "Quarter to Three", he produced. He was also a songwriter for Leroy Toombs. Other performers discovered by Guida include Jimmy Soul, Tommy Facenda (who gave Guida his first hit with "High School U.S.A."), Lenis Guess and Pamala Stanley. The distinct sound he helped to create has been credited as influencing such major songwriters and producers as Bruce Springsteen and Phil Spector. Together with musicians like the tenor saxman Gene "Daddy G" Barge, he helped establish what became known as "the Norfolk sound". His songs have been used in such films as Mask, Mermaids and Jaded.
Born at Palermo, he came to New York with his family as a child. While stationed in Trinidad during the Second World War, he fell under the influence of calypso. He relocated to Norfolk, Virginia, where he opened a record store in 1953. That store, Frankie's Got It, was located on Granby Street but has closed. Its motto was Shakespeare's "If music be the food of love, play on!", which later became a song on a Bonds B-side.
Apart from his hits with Bonds, his most famous song is "If You Wanna Be Happy", recorded by Jimmy Soul. Australian singer, Joe Dolce, recorded a cover version of "If You Wanna Be Happy", in 1981, with a new set of Italian-themed lyrics. Guida wrote Dolce about the new version: '"If You Want to Be Happy" has got to be as good if not just a wee better than 'Shaddap You Face'. Frankly I never dreamed anyone could come up with such a great and incredibly different arrangement. Sure, the new lyrics are excellent but the whole Italo-Anglo melodic fusion is absolutely fantastic. As a hard-nosed and proud Italian-American, I do not in anyway find it offensive or demeaning. Would you believe that I am a charter member of the National Italian American Foundation and not more that two weeks ago, I informed our president in Washington, D.C., Frank Stella, that Joe Dolce's next release would be one I wrote!!' Guida's 'live' 'party-in-the-studio' sound is thought to have influenced Phil Spector.
He owned a number of record labels, including LeMonde (distributed by Atlantic), then Legrand (distributed by Rust/Laurie) and finally SPQR (distributed by London).
Guida died in Norfolk, Virginia, in 2007.
- Baker, Greg (February 22, 2007). "Hero to the Boss". Miami New Times. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
- "Frank Guida - Record producer who created a unique 'party' sound so distinctive in many Sixties pop hits". Times Online obituary. Times Newspapers Ltd. June 30, 2007. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
- McNutt, Randy (2002). Guitar towns: a journey to the crossroads of rock 'n' roll (Illustrated ed.). Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34058-6.
- Frank Guida at AllMusic
- Frank Guida presents Greatest Hits
- Birdland Music
- Legrand Records
- Frank Guida at the Internet Movie Database
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