My list of favourite singers of all-time would seem to consist mostly of Italian American baritones. And right up there with Frank, Dino, and Tony would be this man: the great Al Martino! Like many of my generation, I was first introduced to Al by way of his appearance in the classic film, The Godfather, as Johnny Fontane, the singer with aspirations to break into the movies (albeit through unsavoury means!)
Several years later I was captivated by his song To The Door Of The Sun, a hit on the pop charts in 1974. I was just a young teen of the time, but quite frankly I was intrigued by this crooner of my parents' generation far more than any of the artists my peers were grooving to in that era. I suppose Al Martino himself decided to try adapting somewhat to the times when he recorded a hit version of the Italian standard, Volare, with a distinct disco beat to it. Still, he raised the bar even there, by belting it out in his majestic, rich voice of near operatic proportions.
I collected several of Al's albums on LP back then, and have since bought a number of hits compilations released on CD. I do wish that more of his original albums would be released on CD, but I must admit that I do get a nostalgic kick out of spinning that vinyl. I'm glad I've kept all of my LPs through the decades!
|My caricature of Al Martino on the wall of his family's home|
In 2009, we sadly lost Al Martino at the age of 82, and his passing affected me deeply. Of all my favourite crooners of that great era, Al was the only one whom I'd had the pleasure to actually meet, so he'll always be a very special memory for me. He was a ruggedly handsome man, with such a majestic voice and stage presence. There will likely never be any more singers to come along of that calibre. They are the product of a superior era of genuine entertainment.
|Al and Judi Martino at Stage West in Mississauga, Ontario|
Here is the video reference that I mostly used to create my new caricature of Al Martino, in which he performs his hit song, Spanish Eyes. Enjoy!