1966 Nino Tempo & April Stevens – All Strung Out
Antonino LoTempio was a musical prodigy who won his first talent contest while only four years old. He learned to play the clarinet and saxophone and played with Benny Goodman when he was seven years old. His family moved to California to support his career. He played on radio shows and became a successful child actor, appearing as Nino Tempo.
His younger sister Caroline began recording records when she was only fifteen. In 1951, she recorded with Henri Rene and his Orchestra and reached #6 on the Hot 100 with the single I’m In Love Again, a song from the Broadway musical The Greenwich Village Follies Of 1925. Two more singles that year reached the top ten and #27, but that turned out to be the end of solo recording successes until she recorded a song written by Nino. Teach Me Tiger briefly reached #86 in 1959 before the controversy over the lyrics caused radio stations to stop playing the record.
Nino released a few singles that failed to chart and went back to work as a session musician. He joined the Wrecking Crew and played on songs for Phil Spector. He also began arranging and composing music for other artists, including Rosemary Clooney, Steve Lawrence, and Eydie Gorme.
In 1960, he convinced the president of Atlantic Records to sign himself and his sister as a duo, initially billed as April Stevens & Nino Tempo. Atlantic released at least five singles for the duo over the next three years, but none of them charted any higher than #77 on the Hot 100.
Their record company swapped their names in the billing on the next record, listing them as Nino Tempo & April Stevens. The president of the company picked a strange song as the A-side of their next single in 1963: I’ve Been Carrying A Torch For You So Long That It Burned A Great Big Hole In My Heart. The company sent promotional copies of the record to radio stations and disk jockeys promptly turned the record over and played the B-side instead: Deep Purple. The single was a cover of a song that had been a hit for Larry Clinton & His Orchestra in 1939. Their cover version reached #1 on the Hot 100. Thanks in part to the non-contemporary categories the Grammy Awards were still using in 1963, the single earned the pair a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Song.
The pair continued recording covers of songs from the 1920s and 1930s, but each single did more poorly than the one before until 1966. Nino had played on recordings with keyboard player Jerry Riopelle, and the two of them co-wrote and co-produced All Strung Out. Their recording reproduced Spector’s Wall Of Sound and the single reached #26 on the Hot 100 in 1966.
The pair never reached the top forty on the Hot 100 again. Their cover of Andy Williams’ (Where Do I Begin) Love Story reached #5 in the Netherlands in 1973.
Nino continued recording and working as a session musician. He played on John Lennon’s Rock-n-Roll album in 1975 and he released several jazz albums.
Nino and April continued recording music individually and together into the nineties, after which they both appear to have retired.
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