As mentioned in CREATIVE PASSION: PART ONE, there are many motivating factors that drive the creative passion within an artist. It is a challenge and an honor to have the opportunity to study, discover and identify them. It involves listening a great deal to the work of an artist, in this case, a singer, songwriter, producer and teen idol movie star. It also involves learning as much as possible about the artist from written research. If one is fortunate enough, there are primary research sources, as well. All of these elements exist in the case of our third example.
EXPRESSIONS OF CREATIVE PASSION: PART THREETIMELESSNESS EXEMPLIFIED BY TEDDY RANDAZZO
Teddy was an extraordinarily talented young man who started as a teen idol. He starred in four movies including two Alan Freed Rock ‘n Roll movies. Throughout his life, and at various times, he was either primarily a singer, songwriter and/or music producer.
He began his singing career as backup in a group that combined comedy and song. He quickly moved up to lead singer of ‘The Three Chuckles’. He was electric and romantic at a microphone or in front of a camera. Despite both of those skills, he withdrew into the background focusing on songwriting and producing. He worked with some of the most popular groups in the 1950’s and 1960’s and beyond. He wrote some of the great hits for groups like ‘Little Anthony & The Imperials’. Among them was ‘Hurt So Bad’ that had great success sung by not only Little Anthony but also Linda Ronstadt. His songwriting hits included, ‘It’s Gonna Take A Miracle, ‘Tears on My Pillow’, “Goin’ Out of My Head”, and “Pretty Blue Eyes” in the 1960s. His songs were also sung by great crooners like Frank Sinatra, Steve Lawrence and many other big names in the music industry. He was driven to express his creative passion. Sharing his art with the world was more important to him than, who shared it, who sang it or who became famous because of it. It was not a short lived proposition. It was a labor of love that had timelessness sewn into its very fabric.
“Teddy Randazzo was never quite as visible as other New York-spawned rock ‘n’ roll talent of the 1950’s — to name a few, Dion was more of a star and for a lot longer, and the various members of Jay & The Americans enjoyed hits right to the outset of the 1970’s. But Randazzo had his day in the sun as a singer, and he also wrote hundreds of songs, and saw many dozens of recordings of the best of his work.”
The above quote from the YouTube comment about Teddy is shortsighted. In my opinion, he was extraordinarily talented as a singer. The fact that he did not experience the short lived singing fame that Dion or Jay and The Americans does not reflect a superior talent on their parts. In fact, I believe Teddy had more talent than all of his contemporaries. His focusing on writing rather than singing was to everyone’s benefit. Who remembers either Dion or Jay and The Americans now? Did they write hundreds of songs that other singers recorded, had and are still having success with singing today? Teddy Randazzo’s songs were sung by some of the greatest pop singers over decades and are sought after today. In fact, the tribute CD sung by Keith Galliher, Jr. has just being released.
“Born in New York City in 1935, he was lucky enough to grow up in a musical family, and by 15 was a good enough accordion player to turn professional, as a member of the group the Three Chuckles, who were in the market for a new keyboardman and singer — the singing took a little time to develop, with help from his decade-older fellow group members Tommy Romano and Russ Gilberto, but when the group started recording, it was the sides that Randazzo sang on that initially hit, and by 1955, at 17, he was the frontman for the group. They had a number one hit with “And The Angels Sing”, which had a rocking beat and brought them to the attention of deejay Alan Freed, who put the group into his first jukebox movie, Rock, Rock, Rock (shot in New York, in the Bronx, actually), but also gave Randazzo a solo spot.
When Teddy finished the movie, Randazzo had decided to go solo. “He continued recording for Vik Records, a unit of RCA Victor, and enjoyed a minor success in 1958 with “Little Serenade”, and made an appearance in Freed’s next movie, Mister Rock And Roll, as well as in the 20th Century-Fox CinemaScope color production The Girl Can’t Help It, among other movies. By 1960, he’d moved to ABC-Paramount, where he had another minor hit with “The Way Of A Clown”, and in 1963 he had another small hit with “Big Wide World” on the Colpix label.”
“But it was mostly as a songwriter and producer that Randazzo busied himself and made his real success in the music business; he wrote some 650 songs over the ensuing decades, and saw them recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dionne Warwick. “Pretty Blue Eyes”, authored with Bob Weinstein, was a number one hit for Steve Lawrence. But it was with Little Anthony & The Imperials that he had his longest success — in addition to producing the group, he authored “Going Out Of My Head”, “I’m On The Outside Looking In”, and “Hurt So Bad” (later covered by Linda Ronstadt), among other hits.
“Randazzo became less visible as the 1960’s wore on, and in the 1970’s was largely forgotten by all except oldies fans. He remained active as a songwriter and behind-the-scenes, and did the occasional live performance to keep his hand in, but by then he was earning a good income from his annual royalties. He busied himself in local production in both Florida and Hawaii, especially the latter, and reportedly enjoyed a very happy second marriage — his son from his first marriage, Teddy Randazzo Jr., has also had a successful music career. Randazzo died in his sleep in 2003.”
As I listen to the following song written by Teddy and sung by Frank Sinatra, I can’t help but feel that this is his good-bye song.The photos include those he worked with and those he was close to. I feel such sadness and such pain. But he will always be remembered, remembered for his songs. Anytime you hear one, it could have just been written. His songs are evergreen.
SOURCES AND RESOURCES
•  Published. May 1, 2012 on YouTube by John1948TwelveC
•  Soon to be released tribute CD, ‘Teddy’s Songs’ recorded by Keith Galliher Music Jr. with Clarence Collins on Imperials Plus Records
• Interviews with Teddy Randazzo Jr
• Interviews with Tony Page
• Teddy Randazzo Bio, Wikipedia.
• Bruce Eder, AllMusic Guide
• Teddy Randazzo Bio, iTunes
• Songwriters Hall of Fame, Teddy Randazzo Bio
• Teddy Randazzo Bio, Spectropop.com
• Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blues and Doo-Wop Vocal Groups