I have always been at a loss as to why Frankie Laine has never retained the notoriety he deserves. Singers like Frank Sinatra, Nat Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, and, of course, Tony Bennett have become synonymous with musical history, and everybody knows them whenever their names are mentioned.
My Laine colleagues agree. Frankie Laine deserves to be known. Why, then, isn’t he? In my observances, the older baby boomers and those left from the “Greatest Generation,” are the only portions of the populace that recall Frankie Laine. Then, it may be rather vague. “Frankie Laine, yes! I remember ‘Mule Train’!” or “Didn’t he sing ‘Jezebel’?” are common types of responses at the mention of Frankie’s name.
This is sad because not only did Frankie sell 250 million records around the globe, he also sang the themes to seven major motion pictures, appeared in seven movies, and sang the title themes for four television shows. Many of the movies he sang the title themes to have become major classics: Blowing Wild, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 3:10 to Yuma, and Blazing Saddles. Of course, Rawhide, is a classic television show. These famous themes alone should have guaranteed a household name for Frankie.
Frankie was a talented songwriter and wrote several standard classics. He also went on to become a major supporter of music art, through several endeavors.
The cause of Frankie’s somewhat obscurity in today’s popular culture perhaps may have come about due to his ability to avoid tabloid scandal. I had mentioned this possibility in a previous blog. Perhaps there were other causes. It may be that we will never know.
Those of us at Team Frankie Laine in California and at the Frankie Laine International Appreciation Society in England, have dedicated our ambitions to endeavor to correct this quandary. We strive to make certain Frankie Laine’s songs and other career materials are remembered and enjoyed. In doing so, we also maintain the man—the artist. Frankie was such a major music pioneer. He was an influence—his musical legacy spellbinding! His recorded works are great! The man and his music should never be overlooked in popular music past and present.
I love Frankie Laine’s music. Frankie was my friend. In my own small way, I have tried over the years to promote Frankie’s music and career.
I wrote newspaper articles in 1993 and 1995—including a 1995 magazine article. I wrote, produced, directed, and hosted my very own radio program in 1998 called The Laine Project. This program included a segment in which I spoke with Frankie on the phone.
I have been featured in several newspaper articles, a magazine article, and radio and television interviews regarding my Laine association and collection. A feature on Iowa Public Television called Memory Laine, presented my Laine collection and love for Frankie’s music to a wide audience of viewers—it aired three different times in 1999 and 2000.
I published my book, Reaching for a Star, in 2005. The book is listed in Frankie Laine’s biography portion in the famed book The Oxford Companion to the American Musical: Theater, Film, and Television.
Frankie Laine remains a “tough sell.”
Most recently, I have produced and hosted a program called Remembering Frankie Laine. For the past three consecutive years, I have presented my program for baby boomers and senior citizens.
My presentations have previously been scheduled for one day out of each week during October. Each program is for two hours. During this time, I play Frankie’s music, show video clips from movies and television, and talk about my Laine associations. I also bring in memorabilia from Frankie’s vast career to view—old records, autographed albums, pictures, and movie posters.
Unfortunately, my presentation have drawn sparse audiences—this despite good promotion. The highest number of participants has been around 30 persons. I aspire to share my collection and play this great music for the entertainment of people who have listened to Frankie’s music over the years—those persons who appreciate great music.
And while those who have participated truly love Frankie and his music (and enjoyed my presentation), it has continually been difficult to garner a large audience.
My very first production about four years ago almost didn’t happen. The Senior College of Greater Des Moines (I live in Des Moines, Iowa) reserved a spot on their program for my presentation. However, the reservations were not coming forth. College officials informed me that if I didn’t have at least seven people sign up, it would be cancelled.
Desperate to make sure my pilot Remembering Frankie Laine presentation would not fail, I turned to the print media. In September 2013, a wonderful article appeared in the Des Moines Register, based on an interview I had conducted with writer Kyle Munson. The article worked, and I garnered over 10 participants for my first presentation that October. It’s a wonderfully written piece that I’d like to share here.
Any Fans of Vocalist Laine Need to Sing Out
(To view this two-page PDF article, please click the accompanying PDF link.)