#697: Spanish Eyes by Al Martino
Jasper Cini was born in 1927 in Philadelphia. His first name was an Anglicization of his father’s name, Gasparino. His parents were immigrants from Abruzzo, Italy. His family were bricklayers. He worked in his father’s construction business. When he was still in his teens he joined the United States Navy. But during World War II he got a shrapnel injury and was sent back home. Next, he was inspired by his boyhood friend, Alfredo Cocozza, and hoped to pursue a singing career. Alfredo Cocozza later changed his name to Mario Lanza. At night, Jasper Cini sang in local Philly bars and clubs. Mario Lanza convinced Jasper Cini to change his name to Al Martino. Al moved to New York City in 1948 and became roommates with Eddie Fischer and Guy Mitchell, fellow crooners also hoping for a big break. Martino got noticed and was invited to appear on the Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scout Show in 1952. He won the context singing a #1 hit from 1951 by Perry Como titled “If (They Made Me A King)”. In 1952 Al Martino had a breakthrough #1 hit in America, Canada and Britain with “Here In My Heart”.
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