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Swooners and Crooners swing into San Gabriel

July 12, 2011

Most baby boomers will remember Louis Prima, Bing Crosby and Dean Martin as they entertained in Las Vegas showrooms and on television. Some of their offspring, terrific musicians in their own right, perform together on Saturday, July 30 at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse

Vocalist Ricci Martin, Dean’s youngest son, joins Bing Crosby’s grandson, Phil, and Louis Prima’s only son, trumpeter Louis, Jr.  Ricci Martin, 57, worked as a photographer on his dad’s TV show and compiled a treasure trove of recorded memories. He was childhood friends with musician Billy Hinsche, who was part of the Dino, Desi & Billy vocal group. Dino was Dean Paul Martin, Ricci’s late older brother. The group also included Desi Arnaz, Jr & Billy Hinsche. They had a couple of hits as teenagers in the 1960s and went on to open for the Beach Boys and others. Billy’s sister, Annie, was married to Beach Boys’ guitarist, Carl Wilson. 

In more recent years, Martin said to Hinsche, “Why don’t we do a show together celebrating dad’s life? He said that was a no-brainer. I agreed to do a medley of That’s Amore and Volare and the crowd went nuts. That instigated the whole thing.” 

Louis Prima, Jr.

Martin says he sings songs his dad popularized in his own voice – there’s no effort to imitate his inimitable father. He and Hinsche took the show to the Bistro Theatre at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, tried it out for two months and learned what worked and what didn’t. They have gone on to tour the show, primarily at East Coast casinos and in Canada. 

“I had met Bing [Crosby] when I was pretty young but never met Louis [Prima]. But we have a clip of Louis playing on dad’s show. Louis [Junior] and I have done this show before, but this will be the first time we’ve done it with Phil.” 

Ricci was the youngest son and says he never felt competitive with his father. “I was always doing my own thing,” he remembers. “I was involved in the technical end with photography and electronics. The competition was more of a problem for my brother, Dean Paul.  But my dad was a real decent guy. He treated everyone the same, with respect, and I learned that from him at an early age.”

Martin gives audiences an opportunity to talk with him. He says most share memories of his father. “I’ve seen photos of my dad at 24 or 25 with gorgeous girls who show up and are now in their 60s or 70s. They don’t ask many questions; mostly, they just want to pour their hearts out. People loved dad. When he was really hot, he was a superstar. And his TV show was huge because there were so few channels.” 

Ricci Martin makes his home about an hour outside Park City, Utah, in part because his ex-wife was born and raised in Salt Lake City. He agreed to move from southern California when they married. But as a child, he remembers his dad as quite a home-body. “Dad wasn’t a party-goer. He was very private and you never saw his workmates or friends around the house. Mom would throw a party and he’d finally come downstairs for about 45 minutes, then retreat upstairs. He hated parties so much he’d call the [Beverly Hills] police, disguise his voice and ask the cops to shut down the party!” 

Swingin’ & Croonin’: A Night of Prima, Dino and Bing stars Louis Prima, Jr., Ricci Martin and Phil Crosby, the famous sons of legends Louis Prima and Dean Martin, and the grandson of Bing Crosby, along with the Satin Dollz pin-up dancers. Saturday, July 30 at 2pm & 8pm, San Gabriel Mission Playhouse. 626-282-1440. Discount tickets available before July 23rduse code JULIAN by phone only.  Ticket info.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Mary Cammarano permalink
    July 12, 2011 10:23 am

    Thank you for your support….Mary Cammarano
    See you at the Playhouse.

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