1964 Nino Tempo and April Stevens – Whispering
Antonino Lo Tempio 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. Promotional copies of the record got sent 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 by Larry Clinton & His Orchestra in 1939. Their cover version reached #1 on the Hot 100 and the Adult Contemporary chart in 1963.
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.
Malvin and John Schonberger had published their next single, Whispering, in 1920. While the single did not do as well as their chart-topping record, it did reach #11 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1964.
The duo recorded a cover of Hoagy Carmichael’s 1927 classic Stardust, but their single stalled at #32 on the Hot 100. The pair continued recording covers of songs from the 1920s and 1930s, but each single did more poorly than the one before and it would be over two years before they had a hit record with a new song co-written by April.
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