Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Frankie Laine, R. I. P.

Frankie Laine was one of the greats. Don't believe it? Just listen to a few of his songs. When I was a little kid, he was everywhere on radio, and pretty much a part of the national consciousness. For better or worse, I absorbed a few dozen of his hits, so many that it would hard to pick a favorite. "Moonlight Gambler" is near the top of the list, though. I'll be listening to that one today, along with quite a few others, in memory of a fine voice and singer.

Update: Thanks to Todd Mason for this link to a nice NPR tribute.

FRANKIE LAINE: 1913-2007 / Pop singer -- sang 'Rawhide' theme
(02-07) 04:00 PST San Diego -- Frankie Laine, the singer with the booming voice who hit it big with such songs as "That Lucky Old Sun," "Mule Train," "Cool Water," "I Believe," "Granada" and "Moonlight Gambler," died Tuesday at age 93.

Laine entered Mercy Hospital over the weekend for hip replacement surgery but suffered complications from the operation, said his friend A.C. Lyles, the longtime producer at Paramount Pictures who announced Laine's death.

In all, Laine sold well over 100 million records and was hugely popular not only in the United States but also in Britain and Australia.

Even after his popularity crested with the rise of rock 'n' roll, Laine was heard for many years singing the theme to the TV series "Rawhide," which featured Clint Eastwood.

Most of those who remember Laine for his biggest hits would hardly know that his body of work included "Baby That Ain't Right," "Rosetta" and many other songs that were more in the style of what Laine considered his roots: jazz and blues.

"Years before Elvis Presley, Laine brought a potent blend of blues, jazz and country to popular music," jazz critic Don Heckman said. "Rarely acknowledged in Laine's work, he sang with the easy, loose phrasing and imaginative articulation of jazz performers."


Anonymous said...

Nice segment on FRESH AIR today to memorialize Laine:

Unknown said...

Thanks, Todd. I put the link in the original post.