Friday, June 2, 2017

Frankie Vaughan (1928 - 1999)

Frank Abelson was born in Liverpool on 1928. He was brought up in a tough neighborhood and wanted to be a boxer and became a member of the local boys club. He won a scholarship to the Lancaster College of Art, when aged 14 and sang in the dance band. During World War II Frankie served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in World War II, before he returned to art school, at the Leeds College of Art. Frankie was a talented artist and when he won a design competition he left for London where he won a radio talent contest. In the late 40s Frankie started ‘treading the boards’ and appeared in theatres doing variety song and dance acts. He took his stage name from his pet name; Frank’s grandmother loving called him her number one grandson and being of Russian extraction ‘one’ sounded like ‘Vaughan.’ Frankie Vaughan was a distinctive performer and he wore a top hat, bow tie, tails, and cane on stage. He had a well developed physique and resembled a swarthy Victor Mature when he sang "Give Me the Moonlight, Give Me the Girl," which became his signature tune.

Frankie debonair sense of style, earned him the nickname "Mr. Moonlight," which stuck with him throughout his life. In 1956 he released a version of Jim Lowe’s Green Door which rose high in the charts, and then in January 1957 he had his first number one hit with Garden of Eden.

Frank made his film debut in the same year with These Dangerous Years. (1957).

As a singer Frankie built his reputation on covering US hits and taking them to the UK charts. He had his second number one with Jimmie Rodgers' "Kisses Sweeter than Wine," in 1958 and in the same year Frankie’s version of Perry Como's "Kewpie Doll," entered the top ten.

He also recorded with the Kaye Sisters and had a UK hit with the Fleetwoods' "Come Softly to Me,” in 1959.

In the same year Frankie appeared in The Heart of a man then in 1960 he went to the US in 1960 to make a movie with Marilyn Monroe, "Let's Make Love." (George Cukor).

In 1961 he made The Right Approach with Juliet Prowse. He had a number one hit in the UK in 1961, with "Tower of Strength", but the rise of beat music eclipsed his chart career. In 1967 "There Must Be A Way" saw the Liverpool crooner back in the UK Top Ten

He continued performing until 1985, when he starred in a stage version of "42nd Street" at Drury Lane in London. After a year, he suffered a near fatal bout of peritonitis and had to leave the cast. Frankie died from heart failure in 1999, aged 71.

Frankie always showed compassion and support for boys clubs and worked tirelessly for the under privileged. During the late 60's he became active working in Easterhouse, a large housing estate in the outskirts of Glasgow, where gang warfare has prevailed. Frankie Vaughan was influential in attracting new resources and inward investment to the area.

Worth a listen:
Istanbul (Not Constantinople) (1953)
Give Me The Moonlight Give Me The Girl (1955)
The Green Door (1956)
Garden Of Eden (1957)
Kisses Sweeter Than Wine (1957)
Come Softly To Me Duets with the Kaye Sisters (1959)
Tower Of Strength (1961)

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