Frankie Laine Frankie Laine, born Frank Paul LoVecchio on March 30, 1913, is one of the most successful and influential American singers of the twentieth century. Often billed as "America's Number One Song Stylist," his nicknames include "Mr. Rhythm," "Old Leather Lungs," and "Old Man Jazz."
A clarion voiced pop singer with lots of style, able to fill halls without a microphone, and one of the biggest hit-makers of late 1940s/early 1950s, Laine had more than 70 charted records, 21 gold records, and worldwide sales of over 250 million disks . Originally a rhythm and blues influenced jazz singer, Laine excelled at virtually every music style, eventually expanding to such varied genres as popular standards, gospel, folk, country, western/Americana, rock 'n' roll, and the occasional novelty number. He is known as Mr Rhythm for his driving jazzy style.
The first and biggest of a new breed of black-influenced singers who came to prominence in the post-WWII era, he belted out torch blues while stomping his foot in cutting edge joints like Billy Berg's, Club Hangover and the Bandbox. His innovative style, in which he would bend notes and sing about the chordal context of a note rather than sing the note directly, and place his stress on the downbeat initially made it difficult for him to find acceptance in the music world. But when he finally did hit, he hit big -- making the smooth crooning styles of the day something of an anachronism.
"Frank's style was very innovative, which was why he had such difficulty with early acceptance. He would bend notes and sing about the chordal context of a note rather than to sing the note directly, and he stressed each rhythmic downbeat, which was different from the smooth balladeer of his time." -- Richard Grudens
His 1946 recording of That's My Desire remains a landmark record signalling the end of both the big bands and the crooning styles favored by contemporaries Dick Haymes and Frank Sinatra. Often called the first of the blue-eyed soul singers, Laine's style cleared the way for many artists who arose in the late 40s and early 50s, including Kay Starr, Tony Bennett, Johnnie Ray and Elvis Presley.
"I think that Frank probably was one of the forerunner of .... blues, of .... rock 'n' roll. A lot of singers who sing with a passionate demeanor -- Frank was and is definitely that. I always used to love to mimic him with 'That's...my...desire.' And then later Johnnie Ray came along that made all of those kind of movements, but Frank had already done them." -- Patti Page
Throughout the 1950s, Laine enjoyed a second career singing the title songs over the opening credits of Hollywood films and television shows, including: Gunfight At OK Corral, 3:10 To Yuma, Bullwhip and Rawhide. His rendition of the title song for Mel Brooks' 1974 hit movie Blazing Saddles won an Oscar nomination for Best Song, and on television, Laine's featured recording of Rawhide for the series of the same name became one of the most popular theme songs of all time.
"You can't categorize him. He's one of those singers that's not in one track. And yet and still I think that his records had more excitement and life into it. And I think that was his big selling point, that he was so full of energy. You know when hear his records it was dynamite energy." -- Herb Jeffries