Dean Martin

  • Crooner born Dino Crocetti in 1917 in Steubenville Ohio. Died in 1995 from lung cancer and respiratory failure from emphysema.
  • Crocetti dropped out of high school at 15 years old, and worked at various jobs, including bootlegging liquor and at an illegal casino. He took up boxing, billing himself as Kid Crochet, leading to a broken nose, broken knuckles and a bruised body. He gave up boxing and sang with local bands in Ohio. While working with the Ernie McKay Orchestra, he developed a crooner style influenced by Harry Mills and Perry Como. He called himself Dino Martini (after Met Opera singer Nino Martini). At 23 years old, he began to sing for Sammy Watkins’ band – Watkins suggested that he change his name to Dean Martin.
  • In 1943, he began singing in New York. He became friends with fellow performer Jerry Lewis, and in 1946 they began to perform together. Their act consisted of songs and skits, often ad-libbed, and their slapstick act became wildly popular. This led to a radio, television and film work for the pair. They remained together until 1956.
  • Martin’s first single was for a small independent label in 1946. By 1948, he was signed to Capitol Records, and his songs began to chart. His first to chart was That Certain Party, which peaked at #22 on the Hot 100 in 1948. During the 50s, he released five studio albums and 50 singles. His biggest hits were That’s Amore (peaking at #2), Memories Are Made of This (#1 for five weeks in 1955) and Return To Me (reaching #4).
  • By 1960, Martin had become friends with Frank Sinatra, and they became members of the legendary Rat Pack. As such, Martin was revered in Las Vegas, performing as one of the biggest acts in town for three decades. In 1965, he was given his own television variety show. It ran for nine seasons, helping the careers of hundreds of actors and musical artists. He portrayed himself on the show as laid-back, half-drunk crooner, though he actually was a disciplined drinker – often, the glass that he drank from on the show was filled with apple juice.
  • He released 21 studio albums during the 60s, as well as over 50 singles. As the decade progressed, crooners became less popular with the public, as rock music became prevalent. Still, by 1969, he was charting regularly, and 20 songs during the decade were top 10 hits on the Adult Contemporary chart. In 1964, he had his biggest hit, his signature song, Everybody Loves Somebody, Sometime. It reached #1 in August, knocking the Beatles’ A Hard Days Night out of the top spot of the Hot 100. Other top 10 hits during the 60s were The Door Is Still Open to My Heart and I Will, and #1 songs on the Adult Contemporary chart included You’re Nobody till Somebody Loves You, In the Chapel In the Moonlight and In the Misty Moonlight. 
  • By the 70s, his music had lost its appeal. His six studio albums hardly sold, and the handful of singles released did not chart. His final album was 1983’s The Nashville Sessions. Numerous compilations, box sets and live recordings were released before and after his death. He continued to perform in Las Vegas until 1991, and he occasionally made appearances in films, television and concerts during the 80s and 90s. He retired from public life in early 1995, and died on Christmas Day that year.
  • Dino was iconic in his day, certainly a character who if not in the top tier of crooners, he was solidly in the next tier. His celebrity roasts were can’t miss television in the 70s and 80s. Here’s Dean in his trademark tuxedo singing Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime, along with a little of his drinking comedy.

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