Saturday, May 20, 2023

Who Are Those Singers & Musicians ~ Connie Francis


It may seem strange that Pop Singer Connie Francis is part of the European western genre but she is. Born Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero on December 12, 1937 in Newark, New Jersey. She is known professionally as Connie Francis, is an American pop singer, actress, and top-charting female vocalist of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Called the “First Lady of Rock & Roll” in one headline of a marginal publication, she is estimated to have sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

In 1960, Francis was recognized as the most successful female artist in Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Australia, and in every other country where records were purchased. She was the first woman in history to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, just one of her other 53 career hits.

Early in her career MGM Records decided to sign a contract with her, it was basically because one track she had recorded, "Freddy", happened to be the name of the son of a company co-executive, Harry A. Meyerson, who thought of this song as a nice birthday gift. Hence, "Freddy" was released as Francis's first single, which turned out to be a commercial failure, just as her following eight solo singles were. Despite these failures, Francis was hired to record the vocals for Tuesday Weld's "singing" scenes in the 1956 movie “Rock, Rock, Rock”, for Freda Holloway in the 1957 Warner Brothers rock and roll movie “Jamboree” and as the singing voice of Jayne Mansfield in “The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw” in 1958.

Disappointed that she was not having success as a singer Connie considered a career in medicine and was about to accept a four-year scholarship offered at New York University. At what was to have been her final recording session for MGM on October 2, 1957, with Joe Lipman and his orchestra, she recorded a cover version of the 1923 song "Who's Sorry Now?" written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. Francis has said that she recorded it at the insistence of her father, who was convinced it stood a chance of becoming a hit because it was a song adults already knew and that teenagers would dance to if it had a contemporary arrangement. Francis, who did not like the song and had been arguing about it with her father heatedly, delayed the recording of the two other songs during the session so much that, in her opinion, no time was left on the continuously running recording tape. Her father insisted, though, and when the recording "Who's Sorry Now?" was finished, only a few seconds were left on the tape.

The single seemed to go unnoticed like all previous releases, just as Francis had predicted, but on January 1, 1958, it debuted on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. On February 15 of that same year, Francis performed it on the first episode of ‘The Saturday Night Beechnut Show’, also hosted by Clark. By mid-year, over a million copies had been sold, and Francis was suddenly launched into worldwide stardom. In April 1958, "Who's Sorry Now?" reached number 1 on the UK Singles Chart and number 4 in the US. For the next four years, Francis was voted the "Best Female Vocalist" by American Bandstand viewers.

Francis ended her recording career in 1969. She returned in 1973 with "The Answer," a song written just for her, and soon began performing again.

In 1974 Francis mounted a comeback at the Westbury Music Fair in New York, but after a performance she was beaten and raped by a stranger who had broken into her motel room. Traumatized, she retreated from the spotlight, although in 1976 she won a landmark lawsuit against the motel, which she maintained had failed to provide sufficient security. The murder of her brother in 1981 added to Francis’s misfortunes, and she spent much of the next decade in psychiatric treatment.

In the meantime, Francis resumed her performing career, which continued into the 21st century. She also became an advocate for the rights of violent-crime victims and for mental-health awareness. The autobiographies Who’s Sorry Now? and Among My Souvenirs: The Real Story Vol. 1 were published in 1984 and 2017, respectively.

As of 2023 the 84-year-old is not performing and lives in Parkland, Florida.

FRANCIS, Connie (Concetta Rosemarie Franconero) [12/12/1938, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A. -     ] – singer, actress, married to public relations director Dick Kanellis (1964-1964), married to Isadore "Izzy Marion" DiMaria [1932-2010] (1971-1972), married to writer, restaurateur, travel-agency owner Joseph Garzilli [1932-1996] (1973-1978) mother of adopted son Joseph Garzilli Jr. [1974-    ], married to producer Bob Parkinson (1985-1986).

The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw – 1958 [sings “The Valley of Love”] [also Kate’s singing voice]

Mike Ferguson says, "Say her last name slowly... Franconero."

1 comment:

  1. I see what you did there, Mike Ferguson. You thought that by replacing Francis with Franco Nero we'd be talking about "Django". But no, we're talking about Connie Francis. It's a shame what all she went through in her life but still she carried on. Interesting fact. She lives near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where that coward, Nikolas Cruz, killed 17 students in Parkland. Not that we have to mention THAT part. Either way, great lady. And even a greater singer.