Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Πέθανε σε ηλικία 82 ετών ο Αμερικανός τραγουδιστής Αλ Μαρτίνο. Γνωστός ως «Τζόνι Φοντέιν»

Πέθανε σε ηλικία 82 ετών ο Αμερικανός τραγουδιστής Αλ Μαρτίνο, γνωστός στο ευρύ κοινό μέσα από τα κομμάτια Spanish Eyes, Volare, Here in My Heart και Can't Help Falling in Love, αλλά και ως «Τζόνι Φοντέιν» στη θρυλική ταινία Νονός του Κόπολα. Ο Μαρτίνο ερμήνευσε άψογα τον πνευματικό γιο τού Δον Κορλεόνε, ενώ η φωνή του έντυνε και το μουσικό θέμα της ταινίας The Love Theme From The Godfather. Πέθανε στο πατρικό του σπίτι στο Σπρίνγκφιλντ της Φιλαδέλφεια. Τα αίτια του θανάτου του δεν έχουν γίνει γνωστά.

Al Martino, ‘Godfather’ Singer, Dies at 82

Paramount Pictures, via Photofest

Al Martino as Johnny Fontane in a scene from "The Godfather."

Published: October 14, 2009
Al Martino, the baritone renowned for a string of hits, including the sentimental ballads “Spanish Eyes,” “Volare” and “Speak Softly Love,” and for his role as the wedding singer in “The Godfather,” died Tuesday in Springfield, Pa., The Associated Press reported. He was 82.

Mr. Martino was one of the most recognizable Italian-American pop singers of the 1950s and ’60s. Influenced by Perry Como and Al Jolson, he had a career that spanned nearly five decades. He leaves behind several celebrated songs, including his breakthrough hit, “Here in My Heart,” for the small BBS label. Released in 1952, it rose to No. 1 in the United States and later became the very first No. 1 single in Britain. It also won him a contract with Capitol Records.

Mr. Martino had an influential and encouraging childhood friend in Mario Lanza, the American opera singer who became a Hollywood movie star in the 1940s and ’50s. Lanza was slated to record “Here in My Heart” himself but dropped his plans after Mr. Martino explained that his own debut recording would be neglected if he did.

In the mid-1960s, with rock music dominating the charts, Mr. Martino and his “olive oil voice” (in the words of a character in “The Godfather”) helped reintroduce classic pop romanticism to trans-Atlantic audiences. Between 1963 and 1967 he had nine Top 40 singles, of which the most enduring proved to be “Spanish Eyes.” The vocal version of a song composed and first recorded by Bert Kaempfert as “Moon Over Naples,” it became something of a standard and was later recorded by both Elvis Presley and Wayne Newton. Mr. Martino returned to the charts in 1975, when he recorded a disco version of the Italian singer Domenico Modugno’s signature song, “Volare.”

One of the most prominent of the old-guard Italian-American romantic crooners, Mr. Martino found his image permanently embedded in pop culture when he played the singer Johnny Fontane in Francis Ford Coppola’s celebrated 1972 movie, “The Godfather.” (He would reprise the role in 1990 in “The Godfather: Part III.”)

The character, loosely based on Frank Sinatra, is a famous crooner and washed-up movie star. There are four instances in the movie in which Don Vito Corleone, Fontane’s godfather and the head of a major Mafia crime family, intervenes to help his career, most memorably in the scene in which a horse’s head is place in the bed of a movie producer who would not hire Fontane.

In a singing career that can best be described as a roller coaster, Mr. Martino encountered both highs and lows. In 1972 he stormed off the stage of the Persian Room at New York’s Plaza Hotel with some bitter remarks about the city and canceled the rest of his booking there because of a disagreement with the hotel’s staff.

Born on Oct. 7, 1927, in Philadelphia, Mr. Martino was just 15 when he joined the Navy in 1943. He completed basic training in New Orleans, where he developed a love for country music. “I took the heart of country singing with me into Italian romantic pop,” he said.

After shipping out to Iwo Jima and becoming a signalman on Mount Suribachi, he suffered a shrapnel injury and was given orders to return home. In 1947 he moved to New York City to pursue a career in show business, and earned his break as a winner on the CBS show “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts.”

Always the classy dresser, Mr. Martino said in 2009 that he hoped today’s youth would be able to have its own romanticism in future recordings. “I can’t sell records in stores anymore; everything is online and I don’t have access to younger audiences,” he said. “But 20 or 30 years from now, how are kids going to feel romance?”



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Associated Press

Al Martino in 1967.

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