Frankie Laine (March 30, 1913 – February 6, 2007), born Francesco Paolo LoVecchio, was a successful American singer, songwriter, and actor whose career spanned 75 years, from his first concerts in 1930 with a marathon dance company to his final performance of "That's My Desire" in 2005. Often billed as "America's Number One Song Stylist", his other nicknames include "Mr. Rhythm", "Old Leather Lungs", and "Mr. Steel Tonsils". His hits included "That's My Desire", "That Lucky Old Sun", "Mule Train", "Cry of the Wild Goose" "Jezebel", "High Noon", "I Believe", "Hey Joe!", "The Kid's Last Fight", "Cool Water", "Moonlight Gambler," "Love Is a Golden Ring," "Rawhide", and "Lord, You Gave Me a Mountain."
He sang well-known theme songs for many movie Western soundtracks, including 3:10 To Yuma, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and Blazing Saddles, although he was not a country & western singer. Laine sang an eclectic variety of song styles and genres, stretching from big band crooning to pop, western-themed songs, gospel, rock, folk, jazz, and blues. He did not sing the soundtrack song for High Noon, which was sung by Tex Ritter, but his own version (with somewhat altered lyrics, omitting the name of the antagonist, Frank Miller) was the one that became a bigger hit, nor did he sing the theme to another show he is commonly associated with—Champion the Wonder Horse (sung by Mike Stewart)—but released his own, subsequently more popular, version.
Laine's enduring popularity was illustrated in June 2011, when a TV-advertised compilation called Hits reached No. 16 on the British chart. The accomplishment was achieved nearly 60 years after his debut on the UK chart, 64 years after his first major U.S. hit and four years after his death.
By Dean Hanley
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