Connie Francis is an American pop singer who was the top charting female singer of the late 1950s and early 1960s. She could sing ballads and rock as well as anyone. In 1960 she was voted the #1 artist in over 10 countries.
As a youngster she performed in talent contests at her father’s urging. If anything, it gave her some exposure to singing before a live audience. She had recorded demo records but they did not lead to further success. Her recording contract with MGM was going to be discontinued after her last song was finished.
Her father had her record the last song of her contract which was a cover version of a 1923 song titled “Who’s Sorry Now”. He was convinced it could be a hit. Connie did not like the song and thought her voice sounded awful. In January 1958 the song debuted on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. In short order it sold over a million copies and was #1 on the UK singles chart and #4 on the US chart. Hence, she was on her way to stardom.
The reason Bandstand was a success was that Dick understood teenagers and shrewdly set it up to appeal directly to them. For instance one section of the show was devoted to teenagers at the show rating the song being played as to whether they liked it or not.
While searching for another hit record Connie met up with Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield who pitched her some songs they had written for her. When Sedaka played one of the songs titled “Stupid Cupid” for her she immediately proclaimed that would be her next hit record.
Then followed other songs that became huge hits for her such as “My Happiness”and “Among My Souvenirs”, Connie also recorded an album in her native language, Italian titled “Connie Francis Sings Italian Favorites”. She also became proficient and was one of the first American artists to record several albums of Favorites in other languages.
Unfortunately in the 1970s and 1980s Connie had a more than a usual share of tragedy. In 1974 while performing in New York she was staying at a Howard Johnson’s lodge and was savagely raped and the rapist has never been caught. In 1977 she underwent nasal surgery and completely lost her voice for a period of time. In 1981 her brother George Jr. who she was close to was murdered. In the following four years Connie was diagnosed with manic depression and admitted to seventeen different hospitals.
Even romance became elusive for Connie. She had the chance to work with a young Bobby Darin who was writing some songs for her to record. They eventually developed a romantic relationship and Bobby wanted to marry her. But her father did not like Bobby and at one time chased him out of the building at gunpoint. Her father was adamant about them not seeing each other again. Years later Connie said that not marrying Darin was the biggest mistake of her life.
Connie’s film career was limited but the one film among her fans that has stood the test of time is “Where The Boys Are.” The different language versions of the song made it the #1 hit in 15 countries.
At this point the word ‘Memorable’ needs to be talked about because in terms of Connie’s singing it can be better understood as to what it really means. At its base, it simply means that the song is fondly remembered by fans.
Many things that make it memorable are in the recording. The music melody is something that sticks in your mind. The lyrics are so ingrained in your mind that you can repeat them verbatim. ‘Where the Boys are, someone waits for me A smilin’ face, a warm embrace, two arms to hold me tenderly’. As I write these lyrics I can literally hear the music melody in my mind. It’s that ingrained in me. And what about Connie’s voice? I can hear that commercial voice of hers singing the song as I write the lyrics. The song is romantic so it has meaning to any young boy or girl who begins to think about romance which covers a large group of the population.
Combined with what I just said Connie is memorable because she endured much tragedy but still left an indelible impression on us with all those great hits that she recorded. She is an artist’s artist. How lucky we are to have had her music that will live on in our memory for years to come.