Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music


LAINE, Frankie

(b Frank Paul LoVecchio, 30 March 1913, Chicago; d 6 February 2007, San Diego CA) Pop singer with lots of style, big baritone voice able to fill halls without a microphone: one of the most popular of late '40s-early '50s. At the time he was perceived as a 'belter', influenced by R&B; in fact many of his biggest hits were novelties chosen by Mitch Miller.

He worked dance marathons during the Depression; replaced Perry Como in Freddy Carlone band in Cleveland '37; to West Coast mid-'40s, also working at songwriting. He found some fame on the Al Jarvis radio show '45 (Jarvis was an important West Coast disc jockey who invented the 'Make Believe Ballroom' concept early '30s, helped touch off the Swing Era '35 by plugging Benny Goodman records). Laine recorded for Exclusive '45; a successful gig at Billy Berg's club in Los Angeles '46 led to a Mercury contract; around 70 hits '47-69 began with 'That's My Desire' (with a Manny Klein combo): 'That Lucky Old Sun', 'Mule Train', 'The Cry Of The Wild Goose' (song by Terry Gilkyson) were all no. 1.

Miller was the producer at Mercury and he followed Miller to Columbia '51 and 'Jezebel'/'Rose, Rose, I Love You' saw both sides in the top three. Duets with Jo Stafford included Hank Williams's 'Hey Good Lookin'' (top ten '51) and 'Way Down Yonder In New Orleans'; with Doris Day 'Sugarbush' (top 10 '52); with the Four Lads 'Rain, Rain, Rain'; with Jimmy Boyd 'Tell Me A Story'. (Boyd was a child star [b 9 January 1939, McComb MS; d 7 March 2009, Santa Monica CA]  who had a no. 1 hit 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' '52; also duet '53 with Rosemary Clooney on 'Dennis The Menace'; went on to act in several films and 25 episodes of TV's Bachelor Father).

Laine's 'Jealousy' was a no. 2 hit '51; Oscar-winning 'High Noon' ('Do Not Forsake Me') film theme was no. 5 '52 (Tex Ritter sang in the soundtrack); inspirational 'I Believe' was no. 2 '53, another two-sided hit with Williams's 'Your Cheatin' Heart'; he also reached no. 21 with Hank's 'Tonight We're Settin' The Woods On Fire' '52 (another duet with Stafford). When Gene Autry's horse had its own TV show, Laine recorded 'Champion the Wonder Horse'. 'Hey Joe!' '53 and 'Moonlight Gambler' '56 were big hits; 'Love Is A Golden Ring' '57 (with the Easy Riders) was his last top 40 until he switched to ABC Paramount for three more.

He remained popular in TV and clubs, and always had good taste in accompaniment: Klein had played trumpet with Goodman, was described by Joe Wilder as 'one of the great trumpet players of all time'; Laine's LP Jazz Spectacular included Buck Clayton. He was often accompanied by Paul Weston on records, often with his own accompanist Carl Fischer on piano (b 9 April 1912, L.A.; d 28 March 1954, Sherman Oaks CA): Fischer worked with Pee Wee Hunt '46; wrote 'We'll Be Together Again' with Laine '45 (Laine's excellent lyric included the line 'Don't let the blues make you bad'), others; he helped Laine break his act and stayed with him through success. Return Of Mr Rhythm '45-8 on Hindsight has Laine with Paul Dunlap and Fischer bands. Compilations on Mercury, Columbia, other labels.