Friday, September 30, 2011

Connie Francis ... Bobby Darin ... and Michael Buble (?!?!?)


I did not know that Connie Francis was so in love with Bobby Darrin and he with her. I always thought it was just Sandra Dee.

Kent ...
In the latest issue of "Goldmine" (Pink Floyd Cover), you'll find an article about Connie Francis.
The Forgotten 20: Connie Francis' First 45s On MGM.
They review each song.  I didn't know she recorded that much material before her 1958 Hit
"Who's Sorry Now"!
Frank B.
It took a while for Connie's career to take off.  As I recall, she had a VERY demanding and controlling father attempting to "guide" her career ... (which often meant her singing material that HE had picked out for her ... and, quite often, in Italian!!!)  In fact, it was Connie's father who ultimately drove Bobby Darin away (according to some reports at gunpoint!!!) 

Check out yet another AMAZING excerpt from our Bobby Darin Series below:


By the mid-'50's Bobby Darin began writing songs with another Bronx Science High School graduate, Don Kirshner, who was also acting as Bobby's manager at the time.  Starting with jingles and then moving on to pop tunes, the duo approached talent manager George Scheck, who placed a few of their songs with artists like LaVern Baker, rocker Gene Vincent, Bobby Short and, eventually, Connie Francis, who Scheck also happened to manage.  None of these songs were hits, but Bobby and Donny felt that they were on their way.
One day, they walked into Scheck's office with a new song they had written called "My Teenage Love".  Scheck thought it was good enough to cut a demo and sent Bobby upstairs to have it done.  When he returned, however, to play back the tape, it was Bobby's voice coming over the speakers.  At first Scheck seemed angry, demanding to know who's voice was on that tape.  When Darin finally admitted it was his, Scheck told him to "Start thinking of a professional name ... because in a week, you're going to need one for your recording contract."
(Prior to this time, Bobby was using variations on his REAL name, Walden Robert Cassotto ... usually something like Walden Robert or Robert Walden.)  The legend goes that Bobby had seen a neon sign at a Chinese restaurant offering Mandarin food ... and that the "man" lights were burned out ... when he saw only "darin" in lights, he decided that Bobby Darin would make a GREAT stage name!  (Another far less interesting version of the story says he simply picked the name out of a phone book!)  In any event, he'd need it soon ... Scheck signed him to Decca Records just THREE DAYS after hearing his demo of "My Teenage Love".  He also became his personal manager.
Bobby's new manager George Scheck worked hard to break the career of a young new singer he had discovered named Connie Francis (Concetta Franconero).  Her father was an intimidating man who wasn't about to let ANYTHING stand in the way of his daughter's career.  But this didn't stop Bobby Darin, who fell head-over-heels in love with Connie.  In fact, he started to tell people that he wanted to marry her and that, not only would she make the perfect wife, but also the perfect mother for his children!  (According to Connie Francis, Bobby actually proposed to her prior to EITHER of them ever having a hit record.)  Mr. Franconero would have NO part of this and ordered Scheck to break the two of them up or risk losing Connie as a client.  (He also, at times, threatened to take matters into his OWN hands and, at one point, reportedly even came after Bobby with a gun!)
Connie, of course, would go on to have an incredible career, placing over 40 songs in the National Top 40.  (That's nearly TWICE as many Top 40 Hits as Bobby managed!  One of Bobby's faults (and it would stay with him his entire life) was that he had to be the STAR and bread-winner of the family ... any woman who had any TRUE feelings for him would be expected to give up her own career and dreams and sit in the audience each night to watch her husband perform.  She'd stay at home and raise a family.  He was so determined to make it ... and make it big ... that he couldn't even imagine someone else having the same dreams, aspirations and determination to do so.  (He would later face a similar situation with singer JoAnn Campbell.  In fact, as you'll see in one of our upcoming chapters, even a red-hot movie star like Sandra Dee had to put her career on hold to satisfy her demanding husband.)
As proven by Connie's enormous success, she DID have the same determination (and talent) that Bobby had to make it big in show business.  In hindsight, had they married, we would have been cheated out of a tremendous talent ... and it probably wouldn't have lasted.  Connie wasn't about to give up the dreams she worked so hard to achieve.  And, believe it or not, as a pre-emptive measure, George Scheck finally told Bobby that he was dropping him as a client!  Once successful, Bobby and Connie remained close "professional" friends forever, even co-hosting the Heart-To-Heart Telethon for the American Heart Association as the King and Queen of Hearts!  In 1959, they appeared together on The Ed Sullivan Show and sang a couple of duets.  Ironically, Connie even recorded "My Teenage Love", the demo Bobby had written and recorded that first launched his career!  (She also cut his composition "My First Real Love", which was released as her fourth MGM single ... and the backing group credited on the record, The Jaybirds, was, in fact, Bobby Darin overdubbed!  It never charted ... but we've got it here for you today in Forgotten Hits!)

Kent ...
Part Three of that Baltimore Radio Bobby Darin Special aired this week.  It includes interviews with the authors of two Bobby Darin Books, "Roman Candle" and "That's All".
Music = "Charade", "More", "Look At Me", "I Wanna Be Around", "The Good Life", "I Left My Heart In San Francisco", "Rainin'", "The Sweetheart Tree", "The Shadow Of Your Smile", "Where Do I Belong", "Try To Remember", "I Believe In You", "Artificial Flowers", "About A Quarter To Nine", "Mame", "If I Were A Carpenter", "Until It's Time For You To Go", "The Wind Will Whisper Your Name".  Last song was written by John Denver. (Hope I got the title right.)  The  DJ dedicated this last song to Bobby's son, Dodd.  CNN's Larry King said that his first radio interview was with Bobby Darin.  The Interviewer asked Larry King, "Is there anyone around today who approaches Bobby Darin's talent level.  He answered, "Yes - one and only one. Nobody else comes close.  Michael Buble."  Check him out on You Tube and let me know what you think.
Part 4 = Next Week, 1966 - 1973 ... TV, Return to nightclubs and Jimmy Scalia.
Frank B.
Man, this song list makes it appear like Bobby Darin was going through his "Now I Wanna Be Tony Bennett" period or something!!!  (lol)  Which is really only half a joke ... many well known music experts have said that, had Bobby lived, HE probably would have been the one to have had the resurrected career (ala Tony Bennett) with contemporary artists wanting to work with him again ... and his "King of Cool" persona would have been all the rage again in the Retro '90's.  (Of course had THAT been the case, it's quite likely that a guy like Michael Buble would have never even entered the picture ... but more on Michael below.)
I haven't had a chance to listen to ANY of these Darin radio specials yet ... I'm hoping they're archived on the site as I'd really like to hear the whole thing.  Jimmy Scalia was very helpful in my series, securing me a couple of long out-of-print Darin tracks to use ... I finally got the chance to meet him and thank him at that Las Vegas Flamingo Hotel Star Dedication Ceremony a few years back.  And Bobby's son Dodd was quite complimentary about the end result as well.
There is definitely a very loyal legion of Bobby Darin Fans out there ... I was a "Johnny Come Lately" to the party as, other than the most obvious hits, I knew very little about his music prior to doing the series.  In fact, the original inspiration to DO the series was to see if I could take an artist that I knew virtually NOTHING about ... research their life and their music ... and come up with enough of an education to help re-introduce this artist to the music-loving world at large.  By all accounts, it seems we succeeded.  Due to ongoing popular demand, the series ran three or four times and, even all these years later, we're STILL getting requests to run it again.  (Of course MOST of those requests are coming from you, Frank, but that's OK ... we'll get to it eventually.  Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy today's special excerpt!)  kk  

As for Michael Buble,   his career was just starting to take off when our Bobby Darin Series ran the first time.  We received emails from several readers suggesting that we check this guy out.  Quite honestly, we resisted ... Buble's whole make-up at the time was a very deliberate throw-back to the Sinatra / Darin Era ... a "wannabe" at best, I thought ... and hadn't Harry Connick, Jr. already tried ... and failed ... at this same type of "novelty" career?!?!  His early releases consisted of not much more than big band / swing arrangements of songs from 50-60 years ago.  Over time, however, we grew to love him ... I believe Buble came into his own when he started doing more of his own material and made the whole look back to another era just "one of the things he did" rather than the main focus ... as his OWN material is strong enough to stand on its own.  The truth is, he really is quite the showman (although, much as Darin did, he often comes across as quite conceited and full of himself from time to time ... but who knows ... maybe that's all just part of the act, too. )  If you get the chance to see him perform on the first David Foster PBS Television Special, check it out ... he's incredible.  I've since bought three or four of his albums.  He's not Darin ... he's not Sinatra ... but he DOES seem to have developed his own style.  Last year's hit "Haven't Met You Yet" just may be my favorite song of the year!

And his 2005 break-through hit "Home" (co-written with David Foster's daughter) may be one of the prettiest songs of the past 20 years ... so yeah, that's some pretty high praise indeed!