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Arrivederci, Amico Mio, Genari

20 May 2014 @ 20:26

One of the great voices in music has been silenced — at least, in this World.

Jerry Vale passed away in his sleep at age eighty-three on Sunday.  He was, along with Dean Martin, the singer who most popularized Italian Romantic songs in America.

Jerry Vale, a pop crooner known for his velvety voice and the classic love songs he recorded in the 1950s and early ’60s, died on Sunday at his home in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 83.

His family confirmed his death.

Mr. Vale rose to stardom performing in supper clubs as a teenager, hitting the charts for the first time in 1953 with “You Can Never Give Me Back My Heart.” He was a fixture at Columbia Records, where he recorded more than 50 albums and had hits with songs like “Two Purple Shadows” and “Al Di La.” His biggest hit, “You Don’t Know Me,” peaked at No. 14 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1956.

Jerry-Vale-001xMr. Vale got his big break in 1950 while working at the Enchanted Room in Yonkers. There he met the singer Guy Mitchell, who arranged an audition for him with Mitch Miller, head of artists and repertoire at Columbia. He was signed to a contract and changed his name — he was born Genaro Louis Vitaliano — and his career was launched.

That career took him to Carnegie Hall as well as the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, where he met and worked with the stars of his time, among them Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr. and Nat King Cole.

His autobiography, “Jerry Vale: A Singer’s Life,” written with Richard Grudens, was published in 2000. In it, he recalled meeting his longtime idol, Sinatra, in the early 1950s at Lindy’s Restaurant in New York City, a magnet for show business talent. When they were introduced, Sinatra stood up, an unusual gesture for big stars at the time. It stunned Mr. Vale.

“A few years ago I had heard so many negative stories about Frank that I was somewhat apprehensive to approach him,” he said. “To my absolute surprise, he wound up being quite amiable, and the most caring individual that I have ever known.”

In 1963 he hired a 40-piece band and eight background singers to record the national anthem. The recording became a fixture at sporting events for years and was the first song inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Mr. Vale made cameo appearances as himself in the films “Goodfellas” (1990) and “Casino” (1995), both directed by Martin Scorsese, and in the television series “The Sopranos.”

He was born on July 8, 1930, in the Bronx. In 1959 he married Rita Grapel, an actress….

She survives him, as do their son, a daughter and three grandchildren.

From the LA Times obit:

The Italian American crooner from New York went on to record 50 albums and had hits into the mid-1960s with his signature “Al Di La,” “Have You Looked Into Your Heart?,” “Two Purple Shadows,” “I Live Each Day,” “Innamorata” and “You Don’t Know Me.”

He made appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” “The Mike Douglas Show” and other TV programs and performed for decades in Las Vegas casinos and on the nightclub circuit.

From all accounts, he was a very nice and humble man.

-If our lips should meet…

-I was rather perturbed that none of the obituaries I read mentioned Mr. Vale’s best performance [and that he and my Father looked alike]…

In Heaven there’s some romance tonight.

Requiescat in pace.

6 Comments
  1. 20 May 2014 @ 21:08 21:08

    Music we grew up on as kids.

    • thecampofthesaints permalink
      21 May 2014 @ 07:14 07:14

      Oh yeah. Jerry, Dino, Al Martino, and, of course, Lou Monte and his mouse Pepinio.

      On Tue, May 20, 2014 at 9:08 PM, The Camp Of The Saints wrote:

      >

  2. indyjonesouthere permalink
    21 May 2014 @ 09:54 09:54

    He always reminded me of Perry Como who was one of my favorites.

  3. 24 May 2014 @ 18:08 18:08

    He had a fine voice, but the songs I hear on the radio all date from the 60s. Did he stop recording?

    • 24 May 2014 @ 18:13 18:13

      No. He kept recording classics from The Great American Songbook, but also tried to do modern pop songs in his style. While he slowed down his LP production, he played a lot in Vegas.

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