1960 Don Costa – Never On Sunday
Don Costa began playing the guitar at an early age and was playing professionally as a member of the CBS Studio Orchestra while still a teenager. He moved to New York City in the late forties so he could pursue a career as a session musician. He got a good start on that career when he played guitar on the 1949 number one single Riders In The Sky by Vaughn Monroe. He soon was arranging music for multiple instruments.
Don’s work so impressed Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé that they asked him to arrange some background vocals for some of their recordings. The work the three did resulted in Steve and Eydie signing with ABC-Paramount Records. It also led to ABC-Paramount hiring Don to head the A&R division and becoming their chief producer and arranger.
Paul Anka auditioned for Don with the song Diana. Don recognized the hit potential of the song and set up a recording session for the single. Don conducted his orchestra on the recording and helped get Paul’s career started.
In 1959, Don moved to United Artists Records, where he continued arranging and doing A&R work. He recorded and released an instrumental version of the theme song from the film Never On Sunday. The single peaked at #27 on the Hot 100 in 1960 and #16 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
While he never reached the top forty again, Frank Sinatra hired Don to arrange the songs on Frank’s 1962 album Sinatra And Strings. Don worked on additional Sinatra albums as well as recordings by the Osmond Brothers, Sammy Davis Jr., Little Anthony and the Imperials, and Petula Clark.
Don’s daughter Nikka began singing professionally at the age of five when she recorded a single with Don Ho. She also sang with Frank Sinatra at the White House. When Nikka turned nine, she recorded a new version of Out Here (On My Own), a song from the soundtrack of Fame that was co-written by Lesley Gore. Her record company only released Nikka’s single in Europe and South America. The single did well internationally and even topped the charts in Italy. As an adult, Nikka began singing music that was more mature and had a second successful career. She was featured on a Mark Ronson album and recorded successful albums of her own.
Don died after a heart attack in 1983, when he was only 57 years old.
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