Monday, October 8, 2012
FORGOTTEN ONES: FRANKIE VAUGHAN
Born on February 3, 1928 Vaughan was an English singer who specialized in traditional popluar music. He was born Frank Abelson to a Jewish family in Devon Street, Liverpool, England. The name 'Vaughan' came from a grandmother whose first grandson he was, who used to call Frank 'my number one' grandson, in whose Russian accent 'one' sounded like 'Vaughan'.
Vaughan's career began in the late 1940s in the theatre doing variety song and dance acts. He was known as a fancy dresser, wearing top hat, bow tie, tails, and carrying a cane. In the 1950s he worked for a few years with the Nat Temple band, and after that period he then began making records, and was popular in the UK. In 1955, he recorded what was to become his trademark song, "Give Me the Moonlight, Give Me the Girl".
He recorded a large number of songs that were covers of United States hit songs, including Perry Como's "Kewpie Doll," Jimmie Rodgers' "Kisses Sweeter than Wine," Boyd Bennett's "Seventeen" (also covered in the US by the Fontane Sisters), Jim Lowe's "The Green Door," and (with The Kaye Sisters), The Fleetwoods' "Come Softly to Me". From the 1950s through to the early 1960s, his recordings were popular in the UK. In 1956, his cover of "The Green Door" reached #2 in the UK Singles Chart. The same year he was voted 'Showbusiness Personality of the Year'. In early 1957, his version of "The Garden of Eden", reached #1 in the UK Singles Chart. In 1961, Vaughan hit #1 in the UK again, with "Tower of Strength", but the rise of beat music eclipsed his chart career for two or three years, before he returned to the Top 10 in 1967 with "There Must Be A Way". Chart success eluded him after this although he did have two more Top 40 singles; "Nevertheless" and "So Tired".
Managed at this time by the former journalist and theatrical agent Paul Cave he went to the United States in 1960 to make a movie with Marilyn Monroe, Let's Make Love, and was an actor in several other movies, but his recordings were never chart hits in the US. In 1961, Vaughan was on the bill at the Royal Variety Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street, London.
He continued performing until 1985, when he starred in a stage version of 42nd Street at Drury Lane in London, opposite his old friend Shani Wallis who appeared in their first film together, Ramsbottom Rides Again with Arthur Askey. After a year, he suffered a near fatal bout of peritonitis and had to leave the cast. According to the BBC obituary, Vaughan was married to Stella from 1951 to 1999 and they had three children and several grandchildren. He was created an OBE in 1965, a CBE in 1996, and as a resident of High Wycombe had been a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Buckinghamshire since 1993. He was an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University. He died from heart failure in Oxford in 1999, aged 71. I can not speak for how Frankie Vaughan is remembered in England, but in the United States I know Vaugahan is truly forgotten to most people...