Frank Guida

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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.[1] 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."),[2] 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.[2] Together with musicians like the tenor saxman Gene "Daddy G" Barge, he helped establish what became known as "the Norfolk sound".[3] His songs have been used in such films as Mask, Mermaids and Jaded.[2]


Born at Palermo, he came to New York City 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.[citation needed] 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.


  1. ^ Baker, Greg (February 22, 2007). "Hero to the Boss". Miami New Times. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "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. 
  3. ^ McNutt, Randy (2002). Guitar towns: a journey to the crossroads of rock 'n' roll (Illustrated ed.). Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34058-6. 

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