Al Martino Interview
(Johnny Fontaine)

He was born Alfred Cini in Philadelphia and for a time worked as a bricklayer. His first love was singing and after seeing fellow Philadelphian Mario Lanza's success, Al Martino decided to pursue a career in music. His appearance on an Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout Show in 1950 resulted in a recording deal with a small label. Two years later. "Here In My Heart" was released, and the rest, as they say, is history. Since then, the voice of Al Martino has been heard all over the world. He's had more than thirty hit singles on the U.S. charts and many chart toppers in Spain, Hol­land, France, Belgium, Germany and Italy. And of course the role of Johnny Fontaine in the movie "The Godfather" was played by Al Martino.

Q - Where do you find yourself performing these days?
A - I do concerts in Europe, Australia. I just did a week at the Brighton Hotel in Atlantic City, a brand new hotel there. I have hit records in Europe and parts of Asia. When things get slow in the U.S. it's important you have someplace else to go.

Q - How about Japan — have you been there?
A - No, I haven't because of my language barrier. I try to stick to English speaking countries but I'll probably get to Japan someday.

Q - Have you ever written your own material?
A - No, we've never done it. There's no need to.

Q - How then do you go about finding songs to record?
A - We keep searching. We look at albums and call writers, until I find one that I like.

Q - Why haven't the Al Martino records of today made a greater impact in the charts?
A- A couple of reasons. The people don't want it, they think I should sing like I did when I first started out, but I've gone on to something new. The radio stations don't think the records fit their format.

Q - At one point in your career, you stopped singing. Why? Did you have a road manager back then?
A - I had road managers, managers, and agents. I left because I had no time for myself. I'm only human.

Q - What did you do differently when you re-entered the business?
A - I didn't do anything differently. I sang and pro­duced the record "I Can't Get It Out Of My Heart." I was careful with my time and money and didn't try to spread it too thin.

Q - How well did you know Mario Lanza?
A - I knew him very well. I used to see him around the neighborhood, but there was ten years of age differ­ence between us. I looked up to him and used to call him a lot. His mother, father and all of his relatives lived less than one mile from my home. His grand­father ran a grocery store. Lanza Grocery Store, and Mario, whose real name was Freddy Cocozza, took his last name from his grandfather. Mario almost re­corded "Here In My Heart", which was my first hit, and I'm glad he didn't or I probably wouldn't be doing this interview.

Q - Where do you call home today?
A - Beverly Hills.

Q - How many weeks are you on the road each year?
A - Forty-five.

Q - Do you have any idea of how many records you've sold?
A - No idea, thousands and thousands. "Spanish Eyes" alone sold millions of records.

Q - Would you like to do more films?
A - I'm not interested in films. It takes too much of my time away from other things I should be concentrating  on.

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