Santo & Johnny

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Santo & Johnny
Santo & Johnny.jpg
Background information
Origin Brooklyn, New York, United States
Genres Rock and roll, surf rock, instrumental rock
Years active 1959 (1959)–1976 (1976)
Labels Canadian-American Records
Members Santo Farina
Johnny Farina

Santo & Johnny were an American rock and roll music duo from Brooklyn, New York, comprising brothers Santo and Johnny Farina.[1]

They are known best for their instrumental melody "Sleep Walk", one of the biggest hits of the golden age of rock 'n' roll, which became a regional success and eventually scored the top of the Billboard pop chart when it was released nationally during 1959.[2]

At present, Santo is semi-retired and Johnny currently tours and records new material with his own band. Johnny is also the president of Aniraf, Inc., an international record company based in New York.[3]


Early life[edit]

Santo and Johnny Farina were born in Brooklyn, New York; Santo on October 24, 1937 and Johnny on April 30, 1941.[3][4] Their father was drafted into the Army while they were children and was stationed for some time in Oklahoma. After hearing a steel guitar by radio, he wrote to his wife, "I'd like the boys to learn to play this instrument".[5]

Upon returning from World War II, the boys' father found a music teacher who gave the boys steel guitar lessons. When Santo was a teenager, he was able to get a local music store to modify an acoustic guitar, allowing him to play it like a steel guitar.[4]

Within two years, Santo was performing in amateur shows using a new Gibson six-string steel guitar and had started receiving lessons from a steel guitar teacher who had studied in Hawaii. By the age of fourteen, Santo was composing songs, and formed an instrumental trio with a guitarist and drummer. This trio appeared at local dances and parties, performing both original compositions and some Hawaiian standards. With money Santo made from these performances, he bought a Fender steel guitar, one with three necks, each with eight strings. This allowed him to experiment even more, and he tried different tunings until he found ones that appealed to him.

When Johnny reached the age of twelve, he began to play accompaniment to Santo on a standard electric guitar. The brothers soon formed a duo and became rather popular in school, eventually performing at events in the New York boroughs. They recorded a demonstration which they circulated to local New York record companies.

During 1958, Mike Dee & The Mello Tones (Santo Farina, steel guitar; Johnny Farina, guitar and their uncle Mike Dee, drums) recorded a self-composed instrumental melody which they named "Deep Sleep". Loosely inspired by the song "Softly, As In The Morning Sunrise" (Sigmund Romberg, 1929), it had the same chord progression but a simpler melody line.[citation needed]

"Deep Sleep" became "Sleep Walk" and during September 1959 it scored at the top of the American charts.

Music career[edit]

The brothers eventually came to the attention of a music publishing company and signed a song writer's contract and eventually a contract with Canadian-American Records. Their first release, "Sleep Walk", was composed by the two brothers. (The original single credits three Farinas, including an "A. Farina" for the composition. It's sometimes reported that their mother or sister helped, but this is apparently false.)[6] It was recorded at Trinity Records in Manhattan. "Sleep Walk" scored Billboard magazine's 'Top 40' list on August 17, 1959. It increased to the No. 1 position for two weeks during September (the 21st and the 28th)[2] and remained in the 'Top 40' list until November 9. It earned Santo & Johnny a gold record.[5][7] The follow-up song "Tear Drop" was also a successful, though their long-playing (LP) record Santo & Johnny was less successful in the United States.

After touring Europe, Mexico, and Australia, Santo & Johnny signed to an Italian record company and had several successes in Europe that included "Sleep Walk", "Love Story", "Maria Elena", "Ebb Tide", "Love is Blue", "Enchanted Sea", and others.[citation needed] During 1964, they released a record album of their versions of Beatles songs; "And I Love Her" scored #1 in Mexico and kept the score for 21 weeks.[citation needed] During 1973, Santo & Johnny recorded the theme to the movie The Godfather, which scored #1 in Italy and kept that score for 21 weeks.[citation needed] They received a gold record in Italy and were inducted into the Italian Music Hall of Fame.[citation needed]


"Sleep Walk" continues to be popular due to consistent radio airplay as well as its usage for commercials, television programs, and movies. One of the first cover versions was by Betsy Brye[8] (stage name of Bette Anne Steele) during 1959. While Santo & Johnny wrote lyrics for "Sleep Walk", they never recorded a lyrical version, but Betsy Brye's version included these lyrics. It has been also covered by Jeff Beck, the Shadows, Stray Cats, the Ventures, Jake Shimabukuro, Amos Garrett, Kenny Vance and the Planotones, Larry Carlton,[9] Deftones, Chet Atkins,[10] Danny Gatton, Leo Kottke, the Sir Douglas Quintet, Jonathan Richman,[11] Larry Berwald, and Joe Satriani.[12] The band Modest Mouse also covered the song with lyrics and entitled their version "Sleepwalkin'". A version by Brian Setzer received a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance of 1998.[13] "Sleep Walk" was used throughout the 1992 Stephen King movie, Sleepwalkers. "Sleep Walk" also plays a role in the 1995 Terry Gilliam science-fiction movie, 12 Monkeys. It is also played in the end scene of the movie "La Bamba" after protagonist Ritchie Valens dies. The song can also be heard in the movies "Eddie and the Cruisers" and "Hearts In Atlantis". Tim Kring's 'Heroes' broadcast by NBC also featured "Sleep Walk" playing on a record in a diner, from the episode '1961', as did David Lynch's Twin Peaks. "Sleepwalk" inspired Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green for his 1968 instrumental "Albatross".[14]

Santo & Johnny were inducted into The Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 2002.[15]

Johnny Farina currently operates the official Santo And Johnny website,[16] as well as the official Johnny MySpace page, which includes current tour dates, discography, biography, and audio samples from his new solo albums[17]



Canadian-American Records Ltd

  • Santo & Johnny (1959)
  • Encore (1960)
  • Hawaii (1961)
  • Come On In (1962)
  • Around the World... with Santo & Johnny (1962)
  • Offshore (1963)
  • In the Still of the Night (1964)
  • Santo & Johnny Wish You Love (1964)
  • The Beatles Greatest Hits Played by Santo & Johnny (1964)
  • Mucho (1965)
  • Santo y Johnny en México (1965?)


  • The Brilliant Guitar Sounds of Santo & Johnny (1967)
  • Golden Guitars (1968)
  • On the Road Again (1968)
  • The Best That Could Happen (1969)

Black Tulip

  • The Original Recordings

Aniraf Record Co.

  • Christmas Mine – Johnny Farina (2012)
  • Pure Steel (2007)
  • Christmas Mine (2008)
  • Italian Being Served (2009)
  • Christmas Mine – Johnny Farina (reissued 2012)


Year "A" Side "B" Side US
Easy Listening
1959 "Sleep Walk" "All Night Diner" 1 Canadian American 103
1960 "Tear Drop" "The Long Walk Home" 23 Canadian American 107
1960 "Twistin' Bells" "Bullseye" 49 Canadian American 120
1961 "Birmingham" "The Mouse" Canadian American 131
1963 "On Your Mark" "Manhattan" Canadian American 151
1965 "Off Shore" Canadian American 190


  1. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 72. CN 5585. 
  2. ^ a b "Billboard #1 Pop Hits — 1950 – 1959". Record Research Inc. Archived from the original on 2007-07-17. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  3. ^ a b "Santo and Johnny at The Space Age Pop Music Page". Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  4. ^ a b "Santo & Johnny at The History of Rock". Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  5. ^ a b "Santo & Johnny Bio". Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  6. ^ "All Songs Considered Episode 13". NPR's Online Music Show. NPR. 2002-02-06. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  7. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 118–9. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  8. ^ "Bette Anne Steele Bio". Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  9. ^ "Larry Carlton – Sleepwalk – GRP Records". Archived from the original on 2007-12-12. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  10. ^ "Teensville (1960) at Chet Atkins: Mister Guitar – Discography". Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  11. ^ Sleepwalk: Jonathan Richman: MP3 Downloads. Retrieved on 2012-04-24.
  12. ^ "Interview with Joe Satriani". Heart of Steel. October 2002. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  13. ^ "Grammy Award winners (Brian Setzer)". Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  14. ^ Rooksby, Rikky (2004). Fleetwood Mac: The Complete Guide to Their Music. Omnibus Press. p. 17. ISBN 1-844494-27-6. 
  15. ^ "The Steel Guitar Hall of Fame (list of inductees)". Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  16. ^ "Santo And Johnny Official Website". Retrieved 2009-11-21. 
  17. ^ "Johnny Farina of Santo And Johnny Official MySpace page". Archived from the original on August 24, 2011. Retrieved 2009-12-28. 

External links[edit]