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Singing Was the Easy Part
Cover of Singing Was the Easy Part
Singing Was the Easy Part
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Born Vito Farinola in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn in 1928, Vic worked as an usher at the fabled Paramount Theatre before realizing a dream by shooting to the top of the Billboard Chart in 1947 with his first hit "I Have But One Heart." He was mentored by everyone from Perry Como to Tommy Dorsey. Frank Sinatra praised his voice and became a friend for life, giving him advice on singing and women. Damone had one of the most successful careers ever had by an American pop singer and one of the most glamorous and exciting lives of any guy who lived while the Ratpack reigned.



  • He was almost thrown out of the window of a New York City hotel by a mobster.


  • He dated Ava Gardner, who got him drunk for the first time.


  • He married glamorous Italian actress Ana Maria Pierangeli and later, Diahann Carroll.


  • He appeared at the Sands Hotel during the glory days of Vegas and once took a nude chorus girl into the steam room where the Ratpack was relaxing.



    In Singing Was the Easy Part, he talks frankly about his bankruptcy, his many marriages and his belief in God. It's a warm, funny, and inspiring memoir from one of America's greatest pop singers.




  • Born Vito Farinola in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn in 1928, Vic worked as an usher at the fabled Paramount Theatre before realizing a dream by shooting to the top of the Billboard Chart in 1947 with his first hit "I Have But One Heart." He was mentored by everyone from Perry Como to Tommy Dorsey. Frank Sinatra praised his voice and became a friend for life, giving him advice on singing and women. Damone had one of the most successful careers ever had by an American pop singer and one of the most glamorous and exciting lives of any guy who lived while the Ratpack reigned.



  • He was almost thrown out of the window of a New York City hotel by a mobster.


  • He dated Ava Gardner, who got him drunk for the first time.


  • He married glamorous Italian actress Ana Maria Pierangeli and later, Diahann Carroll.


  • He appeared at the Sands Hotel during the glory days of Vegas and once took a nude chorus girl into the steam room where the Ratpack was relaxing.



    In Singing Was the Easy Part, he talks frankly about his bankruptcy, his many marriages and his belief in God. It's a warm, funny, and inspiring memoir from one of America's greatest pop singers.




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    Excerpts-
    • Copyright © 2009 by Vic DaMone with David Chanoff..

      Published in 2009 by St. Marin's Press.

      All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and...

      Chapter One

      Stardust on His Shoulders

      I've had a couple of angels in my life. One was Frank Sinatra, who was my idol when I was a teenager just learning how to sing and was my friend from the moment he forgave me in Madison Square Garden for the disrespect I showed him not once but twice in an embarrassing case of mistaken identity. Frank saved my life once, but I'll tell you about that later. First I want to tell you how we met. That's probably as good a place as any to begin my story, since it happened in Brooklyn, where I'm from. Brooklyn, as in Bensonhurst, 288 Bay Fourteenth Street. A neighborhood full of Italians when I was born there in 1928, and still full of Italians seventeen years later when WHN asked me to sing for The Gloom Dodgers.

      WHN was the Brooklyn Dodgers' radio network—they broadcast all the games. And every morning at nine a.m. during the baseball season the Gloom Dodgers show would come on. The Gloom Dodgers was pure entertainment, jokes and music meant to chase away the gloom after the Dodgers lost another one, as they regularly did in those pre–Jackie Robinson days. Morey Amsterdam was a funny, talented guy, and when I won the audition to sing on the show he said, "You know, the name Vito Farinola just isn't going to work. I think you have to change it."

      I could see that, even if I was only seventeen. "Yeah," I said, "I agree. We've got to change it. But since it's my name, I'll tell you what the new name will be. Vito . . . Vito . . . How about Vic?"

      "Yeah," he said. "Vic. I like it."

      "No," I said, "I like it." I was a pugnacious little street kid, and anyway, it was my name we were changing. "Now, how about the second name, something American, like . . . Drake? Vic Drake."

      "No," he said, "I don't like it."

      "Good," I said. "Neither do I. Let's see, Farinola. Maybe Farin. No, that doesn't sound right. Hey, my mom's maiden name was Damone. How about Damone? Vic Damone?"

      "Terrific," Morey Amsterdam said. "Vic Damone! I like it."

      "Me too," I said. "My father won't he happy, but my mom will love it."

      And from that moment on, as far as performing went, I stopped being Vito Farinola and became Vic Damone.

      After I had been singing on Gloom Dodgers for a while the program director said he'd like to try something different. Sometimes during the Dodgers' games there would be rain delays. Whenever that happened Red Barber, the famous Dodgers announcer, would have to fill in with patter. But WHN had an orchestra, and the program director thought that if I were to sing with the orchestra during rain delays it might help keep the audience tuned in.

      "Let's give it a try," he said. "We'll put together maybe fifteen minutes of music. Then, when there's a rain delay, we'll put you on live. But we won't tell them you're live. All we'll say is "And now here's Vic Damone to entertain you."

      That sounded okay with me. I sang with the orchestra on Gloom Dodgers, so I knew them well. "What I'd like to do," I said, "is get hold of some of Frank Sinatra's arrangements. I love Frank Sinatra. We can learn his arrangements, and I'll try to sing them exactly the way he does. It'll be like a tribute to him." I'd been listening to Sinatra on the radio every chance I got since I was about thirteen and I had tried hard to imitate his sound. I knew I had the timbre of my voice just about right, that I had his phrasing down, that I could really make myself sound like him. As far as I was concerned, Frank Sinatra was it,...

    About the Author-
    • VIC DAMONE was one of the greatest crooners in the American songbook for over sixty years.
    Reviews-
    • Publisher's Weekly

      April 13, 2009
      One of the most enduring American pop music crooners, Damone, writing with Chanoff, tells his story in this straightforward, honest memoir by an ambitious boy from a middle-class Brooklyn Italian family, rising to fame on hit charts over a 60-year career. In his foreword, CNN talk host Larry King writes, “With a little better luck Vic would have classed right with Frank Sinatra. At that he is probably regarded one rung below, but it is a very short rung.” As Damone tells it, he experienced it all—he was a babe magnet with the creamy voice; a one-time Paramount usher, he had his life saved by Frank Sinatra; he dated Ava Gardner and Liz Taylor and married the beautiful actress Pier Angeli; he starred in several films, all this between gigs at Ciro's, Mogambo, the Copa and Vegas. Highlights of this celeb-laden book include dealing with a bigot in defense of boxing champ Sugar Ray Robinson, having mob chieftain Frank Costello save his life against a hateful capo and marrying singer Diahann Carroll. With many dramatic moments, this memoir—complete with bold-faced names and mob stories—makes for a delightful summer read.

    • Kirkus

      April 1, 2009
      A crooner's breezy memoir.

      Damone looks back at his life and career, recalling his Depression-era Brooklyn boyhood and his vertiginous trajectory up the pop charts and into the inner circle of the Rat Pack—as well as the arms of some of Hollywood's most glamorous sirens. Born Vito Farinola in 1928, Damone grew up in Bensonhurst, displaying from earliest childhood a precocious singing ability that led to appearances on local radio programs. He found work as an usher at New York's legendary Paramount Theater, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Perry Como and Tommy Dorsey, who encouraged the young man in his ambitions. In 1947, the 19-year-old Damone justified his early promise by scoring the massive hit"I Only Have But One Heart." In the ensuing years, he enjoyed success as a pop singer but never attained the superstar status of buddies Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin. Damone admits to a marked diffidence regarding celebrity and careerism, which is to the book's benefit. Simultaneously an insider and an outsider, his perspective on his colleagues is refreshingly clear-eyed—though he clearly hero-worships Sinatra, an early supporter and lifelong pal. The author had an eventful private life, and he offers tales of vengeful mobsters, celebrity heartbreak and carousing in Las Vegas at the height of its glamour. The much-married Damone counts the beautiful Italian movie star Pier Angeli and the American singer/actress Diahann Carroll among his former brides, and he dated both Elizabeth Taylor and, on one memorably drunken occasion, Ava Gardner. Damone speaks eloquently about his passion for golf and his conversion to the Baha'i faith, but he is best on the subject of music. A consummate technician, Damone authoritatively analyzes breath control, lyrical interpretation and other aspects of the singer's art.

      Forthright, compelling look at a vanished, glittering era of show business.

      (COPYRIGHT (2009) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

    • Library Journal

      April 15, 2009
      Damone is a talented singer who had both the luck and the misfortune to come of age a few years after Frank Sinatra had become a star. He was lucky because Sinatra literally and stylistically paved the way for Damone's career, unfortunate because he would always remain a notch or two below Sinatra's level of success. His life is a classic American rags-to-riches story of talent and determination winning out, and this enjoyable and highly readable memoir feels as if it is being told straight from the man himselfunlike many memoirs written with a supporting writer, which often lose the author's unique voice. This isn't a tell-all but a collection of anecdotes sure to be enjoyed by anyone interested in the last 50 years of American entertainment; Damone relates stories of his career in radio and films, Las Vegas, seemingly obligatory involvement with the Mafia, love, loss, religious reawakening, and even, surprisingly, composer John Williams. A casual, conversational life story; recommended for all public libraries.Peter Thornell, Hingham P.L., MA

      Copyright 2009 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

    • Kirkus Reviews

      "A crooner's breezy memoir...Damone looks back at his life and career, recalling his Depression-era Brooklyn boyhood and his vertiginous trajectory up the pop charts and into the inner circle of the Rat Pack...he offers tales of vengeful mobsters, celebrity heartbreak and carousing in Las Vegas at the height of its glamour...A forthright, compelling look at a vanished, glittering era of show business."

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