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Vic Damone

One of the prototypical Italian-American crooners, Vic Damone parlayed a smooth, mellow baritone into big-time pop stardom during the '40s and '50s. Early in his career, his inflection and phrasing were clearly indebted to Frank Sinatra, who once famously called him "the best set of pipes in the business." Overall, though, Damone's style was softer than Sinatra's and owed less to the elasticity of jazz, especially since he was a solo performer who never served an apprenticeship with a swing orchestra. Very much the heartthrob in his heyday, his repertoire relied heavily on romantic ballads, though he did sprinkle in the occasional pop novelty or Italian folk song. He managed a parallel career as a film actor and, later, a TV variety host, and remained an active nightclub performer for decades after he disappeared from the charts.

Damone was born Vito Rocca Farinola in Brooklyn, NY, on June 12, 1928. His mother was a piano teacher and his father an electrician who also sang and played guitar, but it was Sinatra who provided his first musical awakening, and inspired him to start voice lessons. His first performances came in a youth choir and at school events. When his father was seriously injured in a work accident, young Vic was forced to drop out of school to help support the family, and got a job at the Paramount Theater in Manhattan as an usher and elevator operator. One night, while taking Perry Como up to his dressing room, Vic gave an impromptu performance and asked the singer if he had any talent; Como encouraged him, referred him to a local bandleader, and became something of a mentor to him.

Adopting his mother's maiden name, Damone won first place on the Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts show in 1947, which led to regular professional gigs on local radio. While on the set of the show, he also met Milton Berle, who helped him get gigs at the prominent nightclubs La Martinique and the Aquarium. All the attention landed the 19-year-old Damone a record deal with Mercury in fairly short order. His debut single, "I Have But One Heart," sold well, and the follow-ups, "You Do" and the Patti Page duet "Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart," were also successful. He began hosting his own radio show, Saturday Night Serenade, and played big New York venues like the Copa and the Paramount (where he'd once worked).

Damone scored his first runaway smash in 1949 with "Again," and followed it with the similarly successful "You're Breaking My Heart"; both singles sold over a million copies. A steady stream of new releases followed through 1950, with the biggest including "Vagabond Shoes," the Top Ten "Tzena, Tzena, Tzena" (a cover of the Weavers' adaptation of an Israeli folk song), "Cincinnati Dancing Pig," and the Top Five "My Heart Cries for You." The following year, he signed a film contract with MGM and appeared in two movies, The Strip and the musical Rich, Young and Pretty. He also returned to the Top Five with a version of Guy Mitchell's "My Truly, Truly Fair." However, he was drafted into the military late that year, and served through 1953. Mercury continued to issue previously recorded material during Damone's tour of duty, and in that time, he hit the Top Ten with "Here in My Heart" (a cover of Al Martino's debut smash), Les Baxter's "April in Portugal," and "Ebb Tide"; he also found some success with the Charlie Chaplin-penned "Eternally."

When Damone returned from the military, he resumed his film career and married actress Pier Angeli; over the next two years, he appeared in the likes of Athena, Deep in My Heart, Kismet, and Hit the Deck, as well as guesting on Berle's TV show. However, his run of hit singles was coasting to a stop, and when Mercury dropped him, he followed his former A&R man Mitch Miller to Columbia. In 1956, Damone overcame the advent of rock & roll to score a number four pop hit with the My Fair Lady tune "On the Street Where You Live." That year, he also issued his first proper 12" LP, That Towering Feeling!, which reached the Top 20 (all his previous LPs had been 10"s or movie soundtracks). Outside of the musical arena, Damone appeared in another film, Meet Me in Las Vegas, and landed the first of what would prove to be several variety-show hosting gigs; this initial TV series, The Vic Damone Show, lasted from 1956-1957. Unfortunately, his marriage to Angeli broke up in 1958.

Damone was initially able to dodge the rock & roll bullet, but his career momentum soon ground to a near-halt. He had only one more Top 20 single, 1957's "An Affair to Remember (Our Love Affair)," and he was slowly forced to try reinventing himself as an album artist and an interpretive singer for adult audiences. The consistency of his albums did improve, with the most notable result being 1961's On the Swingin' Side, but Columbia let Damone move over to Capitol afterward. Hoping that Damone could ease some of the sting of losing Sinatra, Capitol coaxed some of the singer's strongest LPs out of him, including 1962's romantic Linger Awhile With Vic Damone and The Lively Ones. Both charted in the Top 100, but failed to win the audience of, for example, latter-day Sinatra. Damone moved on to Warner Brothers for a one-off album, You Were Only Fooling, in 1965; its title cut gave Damone a last hurrah on the singles charts.

Damone next moved on to RCA and made a few recordings in the late '60s, but by this time he was primarily a TV personality and frequent variety-show guest. He staged a major concert in Las Vegas in 1971, where he became a regular on the casino circuit; this helped him iron out some financial problems that resulted in a brief period of bankruptcy in the early '70s. Damone subsequently enjoyed a steady career touring nightclubs and casinos around the country, and experienced something of a renaissance in the U.K. during the early '80s. He capitalized with extensive touring there, and also cut a few new albums for RCA during the first half of the decade. In 1987, he married actress Diahann Carroll (his fourth wife), which lasted until 1996. In addition to his live performances, he continued to record occasionally as well. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

truetofred
A lovely film it is the best film that Cary Grant appeared in Sound track good also
Vic Damone was my favorite of all the crooners in the 40's-50's. My friend and I wrote several postcards every week to disc jockeys requesting his music. We saw him first at the Capitol Theater in Washington, DC and later at the Clique Club in Philadelphia . I am so pleased to be able to hear him again--thank you Pandora, Would love to hear Ebbtide. It is a favorite of mine and I did not know Vic Damone recorded it.Can you accommodate me?
Has to be one of the most gorgeous voices ever given to a human being.
The wrong lyrics are posted for Gloy of Love - completely wrong song
Sadly, he was not the only one done in by rock and roll, but he was a wonder example of a beautiful voice at t time when songs had words and sounded nice. You can sing along, hum or whistle and you can sit and tap your feet. Just need a lovely person (female please) to sit with you and hold hands. Good bless. . . .
Damone did have the best pipes in the business & sang so effortlessly . He may have lacked Sinatra's charisma, but not his talent. Great Stuff!
We both went to Lafayette High School in Brooklyn,New York.I still remember him singing in the Auditorium.W h a t cherished memories !!!
If I could just get his daughter to respond to my advances!!
danmatti
On the street where you lives, a classic and enduring song by Damone
mariongttmnn
Great Station with class. Wish you well and if you have time take a peek at our little group of poems: WWW.POETRYPO E M . C O M / P O E T R Y 3 8 7 8

Marion Marshall Guttmann
rlonerga
In 1953, I met him in Stuttgart Germany were he served with my father. He was a very warm person and very accommodatin g . I will always remember all the times I met him at the CrossRoads. Bob Lonergan
RONNIE KLINGSBERG SAYS
HE ATTENDED LAFAYETTE HIGH SCHOOL IN BROOKLYN, JUST AS I DID. WE ARE ALL SO PROUD OF HIM. LOVE THE VOICE. HE HAS BEEN TO CENTUURY VILLAGE IN PEMBROKE PINES, FLORIDA, WHERE I LIVE, A FEW TIMES. WE ALL WANT HIM TO RETURN.
VIC IS A DEAR FRIEND AND A MODEST ONE,AS WELL,BUT ONE STORY THAT HE TOLD MODESTLY TO CLOSE FRIENDS IS: HE STOOD OUTSIDE KROCH'S AND BRENTANO'S BOOK STORE IN NEW YORK WITH LINES AROUND THE BLOCK WAITING FOR LUCIANO'S BOOK TO BE PERSONALLY SIGNED BY PAVAROTTI. FOUR HOURS LATER,VIC WAS WITHIN 100 FEET OF LUCIANO.LUCI A N O SAW HIM AND WAIVED VIC FORWARD AHEAD of OTHERS.VIC DECLINED AND WHEN HE EVENTUALLY CAME UP TO HIM,LUCIANO SAID YOU SIGN FOR ME SINCE YOU ARE THE GREATEST AMERICAN VOCALIST EVER!!
When music was really music, Vic Damone had a hand in it. He appeared at the right time to make an inimitable contribution to the best of the best performances ever rendered in good music history. He rode the ups and downs of the business with true ability and always on top. Talent beyond any one else's capability. Jack Verga of Garden City.
I REMEMBER VIC FROM BROOKLYN WHERE MORE GREAT SINGERS COME FROM THEN ANYWHERE ELSE
This guy is incredible, this is a style of music that is alive today in me in spite of the automatism that exists in the success driven world of today.
Totally under-rated. Still the greatest voice and ballad singer of our time.
Really enjoy his voice and song selections. Wish I could hear more of him on Pandora. Even though he began his singing career in the mid 40's after his stint in the U.S.Army, I grew up listening to him because he was one of my Dad's favorite's as well. His smooth, clean voice is one of a kind.
tonianddick
There never will be another voice as rich and smooth as this artists'. I would
love to hear Kismet.
I saw Vic years ago at Resorts Hotel/Casino , in Atlantic City, NJ. I was right up front, too. I couldn't believe this man's voice. I kept yelling out..."Yes, piasano...si n g it!" He never flinched or acknowledged me once during his perfromance. But, when he walked off stage, he looked at me and winked. What a "class act." Wish he was still performing. Take care goombah! And God Bless.
Still #1 on my list!
Ole Blue Eyes had it right: The best "Pipes" in the business. Wonderful phrasing, marvelous tone quality and oh, so listenable. What a treat to still be able to hear him here on Pandora!
jerryruzzo
AGAIN, MY FAVORITE SINGER. SAW VIC IN PERSON AT THE FAYS THEATER IN PROVIDENCE RHODE ISLAND MANY YEARS AGO WHEN HE WAS JUST STARTING OUT. THE GUY IS FANTASTIC. MAKES FRANK SINATRA PALE IN COMPARISON. JERRY RUZZO
gobbetti5
i know vic damone made a recording of ....my balero ....i cannot seem to bring it up in pandora ...could you help ...thanks ...j gobbetti ...my e mail is gobbetti@cox . n e t
I met Damone in an elevator at the TV station WTAR Norfolk, Va. where I was sportscaster . Vic was one heck of a nice, congenial guy and I liked his singing.

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