Pianissimo! - Frankie Carle©2000JCMarion
Frankie Carle was born in Providence, Rhode Island in March of 1903. He was attracted to music at a young age, and soon learned the rudiments of style on the piano largely from his uncle, a well known pianist in the region named Nick Colangelo. By the time he was in his thirties, Carle had spent time in the bands of Mal Hallett and Horace Heidt. He began to get notices for his writing and arranging during the late thirties. In 1939 he wrote one of his most enduring tunes "Sunrise Serenade" first recorded with the Horace Heidt band, but made famous by a recording for RCA by the Glen Miller orchestra. In 1944 Carle took the plunge and organized his own band which debuted at the Cafe Rouge in New York and secured a contract with Colombia Records. The first offerings for the label were not very successful with the exception of the song "A Little On The Lonely Side" with a vocal by Paul Allen on #36760. By late 1945 he began to feature vocalist Marjorie Hughes who in reality was Frankie Carle's daughter. The leader wanted to keep this relationship a secret at the beginning, but the news was made public by Walter Winchell on his radio program.
In January of 1946, Columbia #36892 was released. It was a song written by Carle and featured a Hughes vocal. The song was "Oh What It Seemed To Be", and from the very start the record was a huge hit. It spent five months on the best seller charts and went to the top spot where it remained for an incredible eleven weeks. Even more astounding was the fact that at the same time Frank Sinatra also recorded a version of the song, also on Columbia, and also went to number one in the country for eight weeks ! This double was an unprecedented accomplishment and immediately made Frankie Carle a major player in the pop music world of post war America. Carle followed up his big tune with a movie theme "One More Tomorrow" on #36978 which made it into the top ten. In August, "I'd Be Lost Without You" barely charted, but the next Columbia release "Rumors Are Flying" and "Without You" with vocals by Marjorie Hughes was a two sided smash. "Rumors" made it to the number one spot and the flip side got as high as number six. "Rumors" remained in the top spot for nine weeks despite a competing recording by the song's originator Betty Jane Rhodes for RCA. Carle ended the year with another top ten seller called "It's All Over Now", again with Hughes on vocal for #37146.
After a huge 1946 Frankie Carle looked ahead to the following year hopeful that his success would be continuing. The first release of the year to register on the charts was a lovely song written by Carle and sung by Hughes called "Roses In The Rain" which entered the top ten sellers. Carle versions of "And Mimi", "Peggy O'Neil, and "Corabelle" with vocals by new male singer Gregg Lawrence barely charted, but the Carle version of Francis Craig's "Beg Your Pardon" with Marjorie Hughes on #38036 was a top seller. Carle closed out the year with "Dreamy Lullabye" with a Lawrence vocal, and the instrumental "12th Street Rag" (a hit on Capitol for Peewee Hunt), neither of which made much of a stir. In early 1949 however, Frankie Carle and his orchestra hit the top sellers again with their version of THE song of 1949 - "Cruisin' Down The River" with vocal by Marjorie Hughes and The Sunrise Serenaders on Columbia #38411. Despite the fact that both Blue Barron and Russ Morgan had number one versions of the song, Carle's recording of the tune managed to hit the top ten and remain on the charts for three months.
The Frankie Carle orchestra was also present in other mediums as well. The band was featured on radio for both Old Gold and Chesterfield cigarettes which gained the band national exposure. In 1949 the band was featured in the motion picture "My Dream Is Yours" which starred Doris Day, Jack Carson, Eve Arden, Adolph Menjou, and S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall. The featured songs were by Harry Warren and Ralph Blane - the title song, "Someone Like You" and "Love Finds A Way". As the hits disappeared, Carle left Columbia and went to RCA Victor and recorded such tunes as "Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year" on RCA #20-3732, and versions of pop hits "Anytime" and "Tell Me Why" on #20-4538. By the mid and late fifties he turned to the LP format and recorded collections like "Favorites For Dancing" #1868 and "A Carle-Load of Hits" on #2148. Made very sporadic appearances on television and in the early seventies took part in the touring nostalgia show Big Band Cavalcade.
Frankie Carle was one of the few musicians that led a big band successfully in the post war years, Because of his big year in 1946, he was able to sustain his popularity and that of his orchestra well into the time when most other bandleaders called it quits. He is remembered for his piano stylings, his orchestra's smooth sound, and his superior songs that recall a wonderful time in our country's recent past.
to next page . . . . . . . .
back to title page . . . .