I Get Ideas - The Story of Tony Martin ©2002JCMarion


Alvin Morris was born on Christmas Day in Oakland California in 1912. As a teenager he chose music as an interest and a profession that he would follow. He played saxophone and sometimes vocalized with the bands of Ted Gerun and Tom Coakley. In 1934 he tried his hand at leading his own band and played some dates in and around Chicago during the 1934 World's Fair. It was at this time that he made two decisions-first he changed his name to Tony Martin and secondly he gave up the band business and headed for Hollywood to try his luck in motion pictures. He had bit parts in a number of late thirties musicals such as "Follow The Fleet" and "Sing Baby Sing". He married film star Alice Faye which did not last long, and soon after married a second time to Cyd Charisse which did last. During the late 30's-early forties Tony Martin had six records that made the hit parade including two big sellers - "It's A Blue World" and "Tonight We Love" both for Decca. Just as his career was beginning to hit the big time World War II intervened and Martin joined the U.S. military. By 1946 as the Interlude Era began Tony Martin was ready to resume his career.

In 1946 Tony Martin was recording for the Mercury label based in Chicago. He spent only 1946 with the label but had two top ten hits that year. The first was "To Each His Own" recorded with The Starlighters and Al Sack's Orchestra. The song was a big hit for Eddy Howard but Martin's version spent four months on the top sellers list and got to the number four position in the country. It also becomes his first million seller. The second of Martin's hits of the year was the popular tune of the time called "Rumors Are Flying" which stayed on the charts during the latter part of the year and got to number nine. Martin also tried his hand on the medium of radio during the year with his own musical variety show. In 1947 he moved to RCA Victor records where he remained for many years. During the year he had one charted recording for the label - "I'll Dance At Your Wedding" a top 25 seller. During 1947 he was featured in the motion picture "As The Clouds Roll By" the story of composer Jerome Kern which starred Robert Walker.

In 1948 Tony Martin was given the starring role in a remake of the 1938 film "Algiers" which starred Charles Boyer. Taking the Boyer role of Pepe Le Moko, Martin was paired with Yvonne DeCarlo in "Casbah" for Universal. Also in the cast was Peter Lorre and in a bit part with the Katherine Dunham dancers was Eartha Kitt. Martin recorded two songs from the film that made the best sellers list - "Hooray For Love" and "For Every Man There's A Woman" which won the academy award for best song of the year written by Harold Arlen and Leo Robin. Also during the year "Confess" made the top 25 and finally martin's biggest seller of the year was another movie tune "It's Magic" from the Doris Day film "Romance On The High Seas". It would be three years before the next movie role for Martin and so he concentrated on personal appearances in night clubs and on stage often with wife Charisse an accomplished dancer and entertainer. Another song from the movies provided the first hit record of 1949. The song was called "If You Stub Your Tie On The Moon" from the film "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court". It was recorded with the Lyttle Sisters and Earl Hagen's Orchestra for RCA Victor. "Circus" recorded with the orchestra of Skip Martin followed. Late in the year a version of the melody of "O Sole Mio" which was titled "There's No Tomorrow" was a runaway hit for Tony Martin and RCA. The record remained on the best seller charts for almost eight months and sold more than one million copies. This fifth substantial seller over the last nine years made Tony Martin a name to consider as one of the major recording artists of the time.

The year 1950 would provide Tony Martin with four strong sellers in the recording field for RCA. The first of the year was the old song "Marta (Rambling Rose of the Wildwood)", which was a top fifteen hit and the first 45rpm release for Tony. A duet with Fran Warren on the tune "I Said My Pajamas (And Put On My Pray'rs)" was a top three sellers and remained a hit for four months. "Valencia" followed and was a top twenty seller, and Martin ended a very successful year with his version of a song identified with Edith Piaf, "La Vie En Rose" which was a mainstay of the best sellers listing for more than four months and a solid top ten seller. Moving into 1951, there were plans for a movie role in the film "Two Tickets To Broadway" where he would play the role of Danny Carter. "Would I Love You" which was a cover of the Patti Page hit did well for Martin as another top twenty seller. The next recording for RCA would be the biggest of his career and the song he would always be known for. It was a song adapted from a well known Argentine tango called "Adios Muchachos" and named "I Get Ideas". It was a perfect match for the Martin style and sold in great numbers remaining on the hit parade of best sellers an incredible thirty consecutive weeks. Although it never claimed the number one spot, it sold more than two million copies and was his most successful record ever. Everything that followed during the year was anticlimactic, but Tony Martin had a steady output for RCA. A cover of Billy Eckstine's "I Apologize" was next followed by a song called "The Musicians" featuring an interesting vocal group-along with Tony were Dinah Shore, Betty Hutton, and Phil Harris. "Vanity" was followed by "Over A Bottle Of Wine", and all four were moderate sellers perhaps caught in the backdraft of "I Get Ideas". The last recording of the year to hit the best sellers list did quite well. It was a song called "Domino" and was a three month charter that got into the top ten.

The year 1952 began with a battle over the tune "Kiss Of Fire". Georgia Gibbs had a good size hit with the song, and Tony recorded his version for RCA and it soon also became a big seller. A four month stay on the charts and a top five seller made the Martin version a worthy contender. The remaining RCA releases for the year that charted did not fare as well. The first was a movie tune called "Some Day" from the film "The Vagabond King". The flip side also got some play - "Luna Rossa (Blushing Moon)". The dramatic song "Dance Of Destiny" closed out the year as Tony Martin was now a fifteen year veteran of producing hit records. Two charted records appeared in 1953 as a lot of the time was spent in two movie roles. The pictures were "Here Come The Girls" and "Easy To Love", and his movie appearances now numbered more than twenty. A vocal version of the song "April In Portugal" which was a huge instrumental hit for Les Baxter was followed during the year by "Sorta On The Border" and both had short stays on the charts. Just as it seemed that Tony Martin had run his course as a hit maker, the year that rock 'n roll first intruded big time on the pop music world, 1954, provided Martin with two solid big sellers for RCA. The first was the well known tune "Stranger In Paradise" from the Broadway show "Kismet" which most people remember as by another Tony-Bennet. However Tony martin's version with Hugo Winterhalter did well making the top ten and remaining on the charts for almost three months. His second hit of the year did even better - a song adapted from the classical "Caro Nome" which was called "Here". The martin magic continued as the record got to the top five sellers and charted for four months.

The movie roles also continued during the mid fifties. "Deep In My Heart" , "Hit The Deck" as the wonderfully named Bilge Clark, "Meet Me In Las Vegas" and "Let's Be Happy" capped more than twenty years of movie roles. Tony Martin had one more hit record in him as he totally bucked the rock 'n roll tide in 1956 with his RCA recording of "Walk Hand In Hand" which was a top ten seller and a three month charter. Not too shabby for a veteran of twenty years of pop music excellence in a time of rambunctious youth. LP albums were released in the late 50s and early 60s. "I Get Ideas", "Sings Of Love". and "Tonight" contain many of his re-issued RCA recordings. Dot records offered "His Greatest Hits" in new versions, and going farther back "Tony Martin" on Vogue contained Decca re-issues.

Tony Martin continued to make many personal appearances into the seventies on stage in concerts and in night clubs around the country. In 1976 the book "The Two of Us" chronicled his life with that of his long time wife and show business partner Cyd Charisse. As the old cliche of the business is applied - Tony Martin, star of stage, screen, and records, has definitely made a permanent place in the history of American entertainment for all time. His music especially has become a lasting and successful record of a time we call the Interlude Era.

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