Brooklyn-born Teddy Randazzo was certainly in the right place at the right time to make it as a rock and roll star in the 1950s. Every street corner seemed to be filled with talented, good-looking guys determined to make it big and Randazzo was no exception, but he just never seemed to click in a big way. Still, he managed to have a long and satisfying career, not only as a singer but also as a songwriter and producer, so maybe there’s something to be said for perseverance.
Alessandro Carmelo Randazzo started early, growing up in a musical family and learning to play the accordion and sing so well that he turned professional in his mid-teens. Even though he was the newest member of the pop group known as the Three Chuckles — and the youngest by far — it wasn’t long before he took over the lead vocalist duties. Randazzo and the guys subsequently had a solid hit with “Runaround” and also did well with several other records, which led to a part in a rock and roll movie and a big change for the singer.
The 1950s were filled with movies that were basically rock and roll shows built around rudimentary plots. Often headed up by DJ Alan Freed, the films presented an interesting mix of rising stars and established names. 1956′s Rock, Rock, Rock was more of the same, but with an interesting difference — the Three Chuckles did their thing, but Randazzo was also featured in a solo performance. Apparently he enjoyed the experience because it wasn’t long before he was breaking out as a solo elsewhere too.
He did pretty well over the next few years, scoring minor hits with songs like “Little Serenade” and “The Way of a Clown” while continuing to show up from time to time in more rock and roll movies. But things started slowing down in the late 1960s and Randazzo found himself spending more time as a songwriter and working behind the scenes. As the years passed he wrote hundreds of songs, including many that were hits for everyone from Frank Sinatra to Little Anthony, and the royalties he earned allowed him some independence in his later years. By the time he died in 2003 (at age 68) he could look back on a long, successful career — even if he didn’t become a superstar.
Teddy Randazzo – “Little Serenade” (You can also access music in left column.)
Here’s a idea that occurred to me when I started thinking about how the same few articles seem to show up again and again under the ‘Busiest Posts Lately’ section in the left column. Obviously there’s something about them that keeps bringing people back and that’s great, but there are actually a lot of other posts that have built up quite a following over time but seldom get spotlighted there.
I could change the gizmo to show more than three posts but it would look kind of silly if I made it REALLY big, so I decided to go at it in a different way. What we have below is a list of the twelve top posts of all time (measured by the number of visitors). I call it the Delightful Dozen.
And we need some music for the occasion, so how about this?
Charles Earland – “More Today Than Yesterday” (You can also access music in left column.)
THE DELIGHTFUL DOZEN
(1) The REAL Eddy Duchin Story
I’m not going to show the totals for all the posts on the list, but this one from 2010 is kind of special. Every time TCM shows The Eddy Duchin Story on TV, this post gets looked at by at least 2,000 folks. The total is now over 17,000, which is way ahead of all the others. (It has also spurred 35 comments.)
(2) Origins Of Rock And Roll – Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith
One of the earliest posts on the list, this one from 2007 has also been one of the most controversial in some ways. The comments section includes a lively discussion about the history of the music.
(3) REVIEW: Johnny Mathis – Gold: A 50th Anniversary Celebration
Another post from the early days, this one from 2006 – the first year of the GMC – was a review of a special album, and the singer’s many fans have kept it a popular one.
(4) A Group Called Smith
I have no idea why this simple little post from 2009 is in 4th place on the list, but according to the WordPress stats that’s where it ranks. Sort of a puzzle.
(5) Dave Loggins – Kenny’s Talented Cousin
Another post from 2009 — must have been a good year.
(6) Jimmy Clanton Is Still Rockin’
This one from 2011 is so popular that Jimmy himself even stopped in and added a comment.
(7) Willie Nelson – The Early Years
Another one from 2006, the first year of the GMC. Everybody likes Willie.
(8) BOOK REVIEW: The Lucky Strike Papers by Andrew Lee Fielding
Something a little different – a review of a book – but it was definitely related to music and nostalgia. The author’s mother was a singer on the original musical TV show. This post from 2008 also had some fireworks in the comments section.
(9) Marilyn Monroe The Singer
From 2011, a tribute to the singing side of an unforgettable screen icon.
(10) Harry James – More Than Just Betty Grable’s Hubby
In tenth position, a piece from 2007 about a great trumpeter with a famous wife.
(11) Swing Music In The Movies — The MTV Of Its Day
One of the earliest posts on the GMC, from September of 2006.
(12) Dave ‘Baby’ Cortez And His Happy Organ
And finally, bringing up the rear is a feel-good post from 2009, one that includes 39 comments, many of them from the artist’s family and friends.
I came up with the title of this piece — and the picture — by borrowing from one of Hugo Winterhalter’s best albums because I thought it was pretty descriptive of the talented musical director, who flourished in the 1950s and 1960s. The idea of The Two Sides Of Winterhalter (now out of stock) was that he covered both classical and contemporary music. But like Mantovani, Kostelanetz, and several others of the era, Winterhalter was comfortable with just about every type of music.
A native of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Winterhalter had a classical music education that not only led to him being a skilled instrumentalist, but also enabled him to begin a career as a music teacher. But within a few years he decided to try his hand in the professional arena, and beginning in the mid-1930s he spent time with some of the biggest bands around, including those of Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie. As the years passed he moved away from just occupying a chair in the bands and became much more involved in arranging music, and occasionally even conducted groups of musicians backing singers like Dinah Shore in the recording studio.
By the post-war years, Winterhalter was on top of his game, serving as MGM’s musical director and then moving on to RCA Records, where he was fully involved in every aspect of the business, including not only composing and arranging but also conducting studio orchestras. He provided backing for vocalists like Eddie Fisher and Perry Como, and also began to hit the charts himself with instrumentals like “Blue Christmas” and specialty albums like 1952′s Great Music Themes of Television.
For the next two decades he spun out hit after hit — his biggest was 1956′s “Canadian Sunset” (which featured composer Eddie Heywood on piano) — and also kept busy with a lot of movie music work, in addition to composing and arranging for Broadway and TV. As he got older he eventually slowed down a little, but stayed active until his death at age 64 in 1973.
Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra – “Blue Violins” (You can also access music in left column.)