Al Martino sang songs in a very nice Italian ballad style and managed to record a few hits in the early 50's, then he put nine hits in the top forty during the Sixties, and followed with a couple more in the Seventies.
He was born in Philadelphia in 1927 as Alfred Cini, and was a boyhood friend of Mario Lanza. When they became young adults Lanza met with some success, mostly in his work with talent show host Arthur Godfrey. Martino appeared as a contestant on Godfrey's show in 1952 and won. Encouraged by that experience, Martino recorded Here In My Heart with the Monty Kelly orchestra on the obscure B.B.S. label and suddenly, he had a #1 hit.
Al Martino signed with Capitol, where he would do quite well. Recording once again with Kelly he hit with Take My Heart, and with Les Baxter on When You're Mine in 1952 and 53, and then went into a slump, and out of the public eye. He was not heard from again until he began recording on the 20th Century Fox label in 1959, then switched back to Capitol. He would go on to have 34 top 100 songs from the years 1959 to 1977. Two of these made the top ten, I Love You Because in 1963 and I Love You More And More Every Day the following year. He also recorded a number of albums, placing 24 in the top 200 in the Sixties and Seventies. Painted, Tainted Rose was also a big hit for Martino.
In 1965 Martino released another song that is closely associated with his career which eventually was a number 15 single, Spanish Eyes. It was a song that was originally an instrumental known as Moon Over Naples and had been written by German bandleader Bert Kaempfert (who had a number one hit of his own with Wonderland By Night in 1960 and who produced some of the early records by the Beatles). Martino's smooth style was a natural fit for this popular song. His final top forty hit was Volare in 1975.
He is well known for his portrayal of fictional singer Johnny Fontane in the 1972 film The Godfather, a character that is supposedly based on Frank Sinatra.
Martino parted ways with Capitol in 1982 and performed on the nightclub circuit on into the twenty-first century. He is remembered for his smooth style and hits such as I Love You Because, I Love You More And More Every Day, Painted, Tainted Rose and Spanish Eyes.
Al Martino died at his childhood home in the Philadelphia suburb of Springfield on October 13, 2009 at age 82.
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