Saturday, March 19, 2011

Boxer, Comedian, Mafia associate… The Rat Pack’s velvet-voiced boozehound was a man’s man who feared nothing and no one. Except,.....

Hey pallies, likes surffin' the net for ever more cool Dino-features to shares with all you pallies simply leads to the discovery of so so many swingin' pads...likes today's Dino-prose from "BeHyped The Modern Musicians Notebook."

"BeHyped" taggs itself as "A resource for musicians (and the curious) BeHyped looks at the music industry of past and present and looks ahead with fervor." It was thrillin' to discover the accent bein' put on our Dino in a recent post at "BeHyped".....likes indeed our beloved Dino is front and center of the past and present music scene...and indeed will fervorently always be part the future of where music is always at.

The pallies at "BeHyped' have tagged these Dino-reflections below as "A mini introduction to the musical legend - Dean Martin," and said Dino-literature is actually a reprint of the Dino-focused essay that appeared in the Brit music mag "Q" in February of 2010.

I gotta 'fess up that I likes totally grooves on the tag that writer Mr. Michael Hogan has put on his Dino-ponderin's...."Boxer, Comedian, Mafia associate… The Rat Pack’s velvet-voiced boozehound was a man’s man who feared nothing and no one. Except, perhaps, tall buildings."

Wow, likes what stunnin' images to salute our great man with....

Likes of course these outstandin' Dino-images gotta makes all us Dino-holics smile and nod in likes total Dino-approval!

What follows is an exceptional mixin' of verbage and pixs that sheds much Dino-light on the life, times, and teachin's of our beloved Dino. While the content of most of Hogan's patter is already known to Dino-holics such as us...this is a well written piece of Dino-devotion that certainly has great Dino-pontential to draw tons of new pallies to deep, pure, and true Dino-adulation!

Likes only found one Dino-detail to be off note is this amore to our beloved Dino....Hogan perpetuates the old wife's Dino-tale that Dino-wife numero duo, the Jeanne, was on the scene at the last breaths of our King of Cool, when truth be told, our Dino died alone...dyin' alone, as I am sure that he wanted it.

ilovedinomartin sez our thanks to the Mr. Michael Hogan and the pallies at Q Magazine for spreadin' this Dino-message originally, and to the pallies at "BeHyped" for reprintin' it recently.

Always thrillin' to see such passion shared in the tellin' of the Dino-story...and in this case havin' such amazin' Dino-pixs to add to the whole Dino-message. Indeed, loves the huge pixs of our Dino that occurs at the "BeHyped" pad...and likes, as usual, to view this in it's original glorious original, please clicks on the tagg of this Dino-gram. Dino-loved, DMP

Dean Martin | Boxer, Comedian, Musician
This article was originally featured in the February 2010 issue of Q Magazine

Boxer, Comedian, Mafia associate… The Rat Pack’s velvet-voiced boozehound was a man’s man who feared nothing and no one. Except, perhaps, tall buildings.

Words | Michael Hogan

Dean Martin (L) running his own game of blackjack at a casino. Las Vegas 1958 by Allan Grant

“Martin’s is a real rags-to-riches story. He was born Dino Crocettie in 1917 to Italian immigrant parents in Steubenville, Ohio – a steel city known as “Little Chicago”, with a reputation for crime and corruption. Barber’s son Dino spole only Italian until the age of five and was ridiculed at school for his broken English. He left aged 14 and ran with gangs while juggling jobs including bootleg liqour delivery boy, blackjack dealer and speakeasy croupier. All rather reminiscent of Henry Hill’s initiation into the wiseguy life at the start of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Little surprise, then, that Martin’s biopic has been an on-of passion project for scorsese. Like Sinatra, Martin has lifelong Mafia links. He was helped with his singing career by mob bosses who owned venues, returning the favour by performing for them when he hit the big time. FBI bugs once picked up a Mafioso making plans to “give Martin a little headache” because of a perceived lack of gratitude. Luckily, he “forgotaboutit”.

As a club punter would later testify when he called Martin a “greaseball” and the young singer leapt offstage to punch him, he could fight a bit too. He boxed as a welterweight called Kid Crochet but lost 11 of 12 bouts and wisely hung up his gloves. Insteadm he started singing with local bands under the name “Dino Martini” – after then-famous operatic tenor Nino Martini. Bandleaders advised Dino to Anglicise his soubriquet. Dean Martin was born.

Dean Martin talking to the band during a recording session. Las Vegas 1958 by Allan Grant

Struggling to earn a living, Martin repeatedly sold 10 per cent shares of his earnings for upfront cash – only to discover he’d done this so often, he’d sold 100 per cent of his income. Such was his charm, however, that most lenders wrote of his debts. By the end of World War II, the handsome, phlegmatic crooner was doing well in the clubs with a style modelled on the warm baritone of Bing Crosby. He attracted the attention of Hollywood but offers weren’t forthcoming. Martin looked destined to stay on the steak dinner circuit – until 1946, when he shared a bill with comedian Jerry Lewis.

They formed a fast friendship, with nine-years-older Martin as the big brother figure, which saw them guesting in each other’s acts and forming an unlikely duo. Martin and Lewis’s first set flopped and the cub manager told them that if the second wasn’t better, they’d be fired. They decided to go for broke by throwing out the script. Martin went onstage alone and sang. Lewis repeatedly interrupted his set by coming out dressed as a busboy, dropping plates and performing pitfalls until Martin chased him off, pelting him with bread rolls. The secret, both said, was that they ignored the punters and played to each other. It raised the roof and they were soon playing well-paid gigs, climaxing in a triumphant run at Manhattan’s legendary Copacabana club.

A radio series followed, then TV. Hollywood finally beckoned and Martin was happy to answer the call – partly because as a chronic claustrophobic, he liked LA which, because of its earthquakes, has few tall buildings. Scared of lifts, he wasn’t keen on climbing the stairs in the Big Apple’s skyscrapers.

By the ’50s, the laid-back Lothario and gawky clown were America’s hottest act. Lewis described it as “lightning in a bottle”. Martin preffered “sex and slapstick”. Orson Welles said “so funny you’d piss your pants”. They took advantage, negotiating one of Hollywood’s juiciest deals: $75,000 per movie, plus the freedom to make one film a year via their own York Productions. They also kept control of their club, record, radio and tv appearances. This spin-off work earned them millions.

Dean Martin performing at the Sands Hotel. Hollywood CA December 1958 by Allan Grant

Martin and Lewis had fun onstage and were firm friends off it – this was their secret. But cracks appeared because Lewis was seen as the talent, with straight man Martin’s contribution underestimated. He fought to vary their formulaic routine but Lewis was a control freak, leading to escalating fall-outs. Martin eventually told Lewis, “You’re nothing to me but a fucking dollar sign.” The duo split in 1956 – a decade to the day from their debut. They marked it with a farewell gig at the Copacabana.

Martin, seen as a spare part, initially struggled solo. It looked like he might be remembered as Lewis’s former sidekick, his own career confined to the clubs. Ever the fighter, though, he got up off the canvas for a spectacular comeback.

First, he decided to become a proper actor. With Mob help, he blagged his way into war drama The Young Lions, so he could learn from co-stars Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando. This was followed by an acclaimed role as the aptly-named Dude in Howard Hawk’s Rio Bravo.

With a mic in his hand, Martin moved on from the Crosby comparisons to his own style: nice’n'easy, the swinging soundtrack to romance. His trademark lounge tune ‘Everybody Loves Somebody’ knocked The Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night off the BIllboard top sot in 1964 and hits kept coming – despite the rise of rock’n'roll. As he said, “That’s for teenagers, my music’s for Deanagers.” He branched into country, covering Johnny Cash and was crowned Man Of The Year but the Country Music Association in ’66. He even influenced Elvis, whose Love Me Tender vocals were very Martin-esque.

By now Dino was one of the most popular entertainers in Vegas, combining butterscotch-smooth singing with equally slick comedy (he’d learnt a lot from Lewis). He was already the King Of Cool. Lasting cult status was assured when he became a second-in-command of the Rat Pack. Martin and Sinatra has crossed paths on the club circuit but became the best of buddies – “pallies”, they called it – when co-starring in Oscar-nomintaed 1958 film Some Came Running. By the early 60′s, they were joined by Vegas scenesters Joe Bishop, Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis, Jr to form the tuxedo-clad, testosterone-feulled, ring-a-ding clique that dubbed themselves The Summit or The Clan – the counter to The Establishment. Sinatra was Chairman Of The Board, Dino his Deputy.

The “pallies” all starred in the iconic Oceans’ Eleven but were mainly famed for their hedonistic booze’n'broads lifestyle. Their gig nights were legendary, normally secret, always raucous and rapturously received. The billboard at the Sands Hotel would read “Dean Martin. Maybe Frank. Maybe Sammy”. They’d sing solos, duets and trios, alongside seemingly improvised comedy. It was edgy stuff, playing on Sinatra’s womanizing, Martin’s drinking, Davis’s race and Judaism. Un-Pc, sure, but responsible for the desegregation of Vegas, as Sinatra and Martin refused to appear anywhere that barred Davis, forcing casinos to open their doors to blacks and Jews.

Playing his favourite game. California 1958 by Allan Grant

Martin became even more of a household name in the late ’60s with his weekly variety show on NBC – for a while, the most-watched programme on US TV. It was here he cemented his image as a louche, lazy loveable boozer, hitting on women with one-liners that would get mere mortals slapped. There was even a bar onstage. Martin joked that he had someone tape the shows so he could enjoy his gags sober. The license plates on his cars spelled “DRUNKY”. It was popularly assumed he was an alcoholic. In fact, it was all, more or less, part of the act. “Oh, I love to drink,” he shrugged, “but I’m never drunk.” The “Scotch on the rocks” he supped onstage was apple juice and the barfly persona had a prodigious work ethic. Martin grafter to look effortless. He prides himself on memorising whole scripts and bailed out of Rat Pack parties early, preferring to get up the next day to play his beloved golf. “If you drink, don’t drive,” he said. “Don’t even putt.”

Neither was he quite the womaniser of lore. Martin was a family man, a father of seven, who fought for custody of the kids from his first marriage. Second wife Jeanne said, “He’s a man’s man, not a ladies’ man, home every night for dinner.” There was a mid-life crisis in his 50s, when he divorced Jeanne, got briefly engaged to the ’69 Miss World-USA, Gail Renshaw, then married a Rodeo Drive hair salon receptionist half his age, Catherine Hawn. But he returned to Jeanne, stayed for the rest of his life and died in her arms. That’s amore.

By the ’70s, Martin scaled down. He didn’t need the cash, having invested his earnings – he was the single largest shareholder in both RCA and NBC. He lost his golden son, fighter pilot Dean Junior, in a 1987 plane crash. It broke his heart and he never recovered. He suffered emphysema, then lung cancer but refused surgery, He finally died on Christmas Day 1995. The lights on the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed in his honour. Lasy year, his children accepted his posthumous Grammy for Lifetime Achievement. He’s earned it, releasing over 100 albums and 50 films. As Martin’s hit went, memories are made of this.”


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March 8, 2011 | Filed under Icons and tagged with Article, Biography, Dean Martin, Music Icons.

Tags: Article, Biography, Dean Martin, Music Icons


Always On Watch said...

Good find!

There may be one more error in the article, though.

Struggling to earn a living, Martin repeatedly sold 10 per cent shares of his earnings for upfront cash – only to discover he’d done this so often, he’d sold 100 per cent of his income.

I've read that he actually sold himself to 110%. Maybe what I read is wrong, but I'm sure that I've read that figure.

In any case, our Dino did recover financially -- to say the least!

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, no I am sure that you are correct Miss AOW...our Dino over-sold himself..percent wise, at least...I obviouly did not read this Dino-literature as close as thanks ever so much for sharin'...of course, I obviously was much more concerns to correct the old wife's tale of mother Jeanne bein' with our great man at the end of his journey...thanks for droppin' by and encouragin' the Dino-truth to continue to be spread...and, as always, keeps lovin' our Dino...

Always On Watch said...

Well, I guess that myths do surround all great men. And our Dino was indeed a great man.

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, and Miss AOW besides myths are the even cooler mysteries...and likes we know that no one is more mysterious then our beloved Dino...keeps lovin' our Dino!