1122 Singer Jerry Vale asks: Remember me for ‘You Don’t Know Me’! PHONE INTERVIEW

Today’s Guest: Jerry Vale, singer, “Camelot”

 

Today on Mr. Media, I’ve rescued another interview from my archives. This time, we’re reaching back to October 3, 1984, for my telephone interview with legendary singer – and Sinatra contemporary – Jerry Vale. This story originally appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on Friday, October 12, 1984, the day Jerry Vale performed at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida.

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Along with Tony Bennett, Perry Como and Frank Sinatra, Jerry Vale is one of the most enduring crooners of his generation.

“I have to admit I’m pretty lucky,” Vale said in a telephone interview from Atlantic City last week. “Here it is 1984, and I’m still working, earning good money, so I would say I had a pretty good career.”

Thirty years have passed since Vale had his first hit record, “Purple Shadows (On The Snow).” He followed that success over and over again — “And This Is My Beloved,” “Al Di La,” “Have You Looked Into Your Heart,” “Camelot,” “Pretend You Don’t See Her,” “And You Don’t Know Me,” “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” and “The Impossible Dream.”

JERRY VALE excerpt: “I used to work with my father. He was an engineer, and I was an oiler on a steam shovel. We used to dig excavations for the sewage plant in Oyster Bay, Long Island. I thought I might like to do that, but then I got a break singing. I always wanted to sing… Thank God I made the right decision.”

As a kid growing up in an Italian neighborhood in the Bronx, Vale wanted to be either a singer, a ballplayer or an oiler. “I used to work with my father,” he recalled. “(He) was an engineer, and I was an oiler on a steam shovel. We used to dig excavations for the sewage plant in Oyster Bay, Long Island. I thought I might like to do that, but then I got a break singing. I always wanted to sing… Thank God I made the right decision.”

There were two important breaks in Vale’s career. The first came when a friend pushed the singer into the spotlight at the Club del Rio at the end of an amateur night, and Vale won the contest with a rendition of “Faraway Places.” The club’s manager hired him for three weekends at $10 a night, and a career was born.

The biggest break he had was working in Yonkers at the Enchanted Room in 1950. “I met Guy Mitchell, the guy who recorded ‘My Heart Cries For You.’ He was doing a one-nighter. We became friendly, and he arranged for me to audition for Mitch Miller at Columbia Records,” Vale said.

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Vale’s first hit, “Purple Shadows” in 1954, was somewhat of a surprise. “It was a smash in Pittsburgh first,” he said. Vale was a little confused when his record company called with the news.

“Columbia Records said you better go to Pittsburgh right away. I said what’s going on? They said you’ve got a hit record! I thought it was the other side, a song from Kismet called ‘And This Is My Beloved.’ They said, oh, no, it’s the other side. I did ‘And This Is My Beloved’ with Percy Faith and a 40-piece orchestra, and I did ‘Purple Shadows’ with four musicians… It’s a very good song, and I think I sang it well. Even today, the quality is fantastic. It’s in stereo, and you’ll never know it wasn’t made yesterday.”

JERRY VALE excerpt: “Today, if you walk up to a 15-year-old and ask him about Bing Crosby, I guarantee you that half or more wouldn’t know who he was. That’s a crime. Bing Crosby was an American institution, a legend… There are those who don’t know Tony Bennett or Jerry Vale, and it’s no fault of theirs. Time goes on, and things change. Fortunately, we built a pretty good foundation, guys like myself, Tony, Jack Jones. We still have a certain amount of fans listening to what we do.”

Vale expressed concern that his style of singing is on the verge of extinction. “I can’t think of one singer that’s doing the type of songs I’ve done. It’s a shame that some of those songs are not going to be done like they should.

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“Today,” he added, “if you walk up to a 15-year-old and ask him about Bing Crosby, I guarantee you that half or more wouldn’t know who he was. That’s a crime. Bing Crosby was an American institution, a legend… There are those who don’t know Tony Bennett or Jerry Vale, and it’s no fault of theirs. Time goes on, and things change. Fortunately, we built a pretty good foundation, guys like myself, Tony, Jack Jones. We still have a certain amount of fans listening to what we do.”

Vale has made almost a second career of singing Italian standards like “Al Di La” and “Mama Femina,” becoming to Italian-Americans what Bobby Vinton is to Polish-Americans. The ethnic songs, along with past hits and numbers from Broadway shows such as La Cage Aux Folles and A Chorus Line, fill out the show Vale brings to Ruth Eckerd Hall tonight.

Vale will be accompanied by an 18-piece orchestra including violins, trumpets, trombones, saxophones, a rhythm section and guitars.

Of all the songs he has recorded, the silver-haired vocalist has many favorites. But the one he would like most to be remembered for is “You Don’t Know Me,” recorded in 1957. (Written by Eddy Arnold and Cindy Walker, it was later a hit for Ray Charles.)

Jerry Vale WikipediaYouTubeFansiteFacebook fan site run by Jerry’s daughter, Pam Vale BranchIMDB Creative Potential by Pamela Vale


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About Mr. Media® Interviews-Bob Andelman

Bob Andelman is the host and producer of Mr. Media® Interviews. He is also the author or co-author of 16 books, including The Wawa Way with Howard Stoeckel, Building Atlanta with Herman J. Russell, Fans Not Customers with Vernon W. Hill, founder of Commerce Bank and Metro Bank UK, Mind Over Business with Ken Baum, The Consulate with Thomas R. Stutler, The Profiler with Pat Brown, Built From Scratch with the founders of The Home Depot, The Profit Zone with Adrian Slywotzky, Mean Business with Albert J. Dunlap, and Will Eisner: A Spirited Life. Click here to see Bob Andelman's Amazon Central author page. He is a member in good standing of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (member page).