#1055: Hop Scotch by Santo and Johnny
Peak Month: April 1961
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #11
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
The Farina brothers, Santo & Johnny, were born in Brooklyn, New York. Santo, October 24, 1937 and Johnny, April 30, 1941. As a boy Santo Farina listened frequently to the “Hometown Frolics,” a country radio show. Through that association he came to love the sound of the steel guitar by the time he was teen. Santo convinced a neighborhood music store to modify and acoustic guitar to allow him to play it like a steel. Santo was mesmerized with the sounds he could produce on his new guitar and practiced day and night. Within two years, he was performing for amateur shows on a new Gibson six-string steel guitar. Soon after, he acquired a steel guitar teacher who had learned the art in Hawaii.
In 1952, at the age of fourteen, Santo formed an instrumental trio with a guitarists and drummer. By this time he was composing songs as well as the hits of the day. He also included a few Hawaiian standards when the group played at local dances and parties. With money he made from performing he bought another steel guitar. This one had three necks, each with eight strings. He experimented with the additional two strings until he came up with tunings that appealed to him. It was at this time Santo began teaching his younger brother Johnny, to play accompaniment on a standard electric guitar. The Farina Brothers started to establish a following from Brooklyn to Long Island.
As their popularity grew locally they recorded a couple of demo tapes and ended up signing with Canadian American Records. Their debut single in 1959 called “Sleep Walk” which was written by the brothers. It was a #1 hit for two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA in September, and peaked at #4 on CFUN in Vancouver. With their unmistakable steel guitar sound, they were featured on a circuit of TV shows including American Bandstand and The Perry Como Show. Their fame spread to other countries and they were booked on tours in Australia, Mexico and Europe. They were than signed to an Italian record label and had a string of hits in Europe.
In Vancouver they had six more singles on the local charts. The most successful of these was in the spring of 1961 called “Hop Scotch”, a western-themed tune.
Starting in 1962 with Dr. No, they went on to cover the soundtracks for the James Bond films. In 1965 the duo’s instrumental version of the Beatles song, “And I Love Her“, hit the #1 spot in Mexico and held it for 21 weeks. In 1973 they recorded “The Godfather” movie theme, “Il Padrino“. It held the #1 spot for them in Italy for 26 weeks which broke all records in Italy. They received a Gold Record for it in Italy and were inducted into the Hall of Fame in Italy as well. In 1979, Santo Farina co-wrote a song with Lisa Ratner called “Kiss Me In The Rain,” which Barbra Streisand covered on her album Wet.
In total, Johnny Farina and “Santo & Johnny” have recorded and released 35 Albums and over 50 Singles worldwide in their career, spanning over Fifty years. Currently, at age 79, Santo Farina is semi-retired, while 75 year-old Johnny continues to tour.
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