DANNY VALENTINO

Born Vincent Pacimeo, 19 February 1941, Flushing, New York

(Based on e-mail exchange with Vince Pacimeo and authorized by him)

Danny Valentino is best remembered by rock & roll fans for his exciting 1959 single "Stampede", one of three singles that he recorded for MGM. Those records were the only occasion on which he called himself Danny Valentino. For the rest of his life, he has been Vince Pacimeo, so I will refer to him by his real name.

Vince Pacimeo has made a living in show business all his life and he continues to do so. "I’ve never been a one trick pony. I’ve sung in many different styles, played jazz drums, acted (TV, film, Broadway, etc.), written and directed plays." He made his first singing performance at the age of five. His professional musical career began at the age of nine appearing on the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour television show playing the drums.

During his early teen years Vince was mostly influenced by Al Jolson and big bands. He played the drums good enough to play with older and seasoned musicians. By that time he was tap dancing and singing Broadway and movie musical songs. Vince wanted to become the next Gene Kelly, a great favorite of his. As he entered high school, he found himself becoming more interested in jazz. Singing at that time took a backseat to drumming.

 

The rock & roll explosion of 1956 did not really affect him. "My harmonic knowledge went far beyond the four chord paradigm that was followed on almost every recording during those years." By the time he graduated high school, Vince’s interest in singing began to grow again mainly because of the music of Frank Sinatra.

In 1958 he worked at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, drumming for Lillian Briggs, a lady singer/ trombone player who had a # 18 hit in 1955 with "I Want You To Be My Baby". Arriving home one night, he got a call to play a six nights a week gig in a very popular night spot. Vince accepted with some reservations. Little did he know that job would change his life. During the week he played and sang with a trio, on the weekend with a big band. One of the trumpet players of the band had a connection with Connie Francis and he set up an audition for Vince with Connie’s manager, George Scheck. "I sang for him and before two weeks went by I was signed to a recording contract with MGM Records. Coincidently, I had met Connie ten years before when we both were involved in a TV show called ‘Star Time Kids’. Connie and I became good buddies in a short time."

Connie Francis was also the main architect of Vince’s new professional name. "She had invited me to one of her recording sessions. Between one of the takes she came into the booth, pointed at me and said Valentino. Connie said I reminded her of the silent screen star Rudolf Valentino. That’s how Danny Valentino was born. I used that name only on MGM records." The first MGM session took place on August 10, 1959, at Metropolitan Studios in New York City. Vince himself chose the songs for the first two MGM records, along with Connie. "Stampede and Music Man impressed both Connie and myself. I thought Music Man was going to be the A-side. On a personal note I wanted to record these songs because they were written by two highly respected and prolific writers : Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman."

The two songs were recorded under the supervision of Ray Ellis, who took on the roles of arranger, conductor and producer. The backing was supplied by some of New York’s top session men : Everett Barksdale on guitar, Bobby Cranshaw on bass, Jerome Richardson on tenor sax, Hank Jones on piano and Panama Francis on drums. "Stampede" was chosen by MGM as the top side (though "Music Man" was reviewed as the main side by Billboard) and sold well enough to be released in several European countries (including the UK and Holland), but it didn’t make the national charts in the USA.

However, the second single, "Biology", did chart, spending two weeks at the bottom of Billboard's Hot 100 in June 1960 (peak position # 95). Unlike "Stampede", a frantic rocker, "Biology" was a typical example of the teen pop that was so popular around 1959-1960. The B-side was "A Million Tears", a slow ballad with string accompaniment. (Not to be confused with "A Million Teardrops", by another MGM artist, Conway Twitty, recorded around the same time.)

Vince had nothing to say about the songs for the third record, which was made during a stressful period in his life. "I didn’t have the guts to decline what I was told to record. I knew I could handle the material and maybe put my career in gear." The A-side, "Pictures From the Past", was a Billboard ‘Spotlight winner of the week' (issue of October 17, 1960). It is a pleasant Sedaka-Greenfield number, which Neil himself would record later, in June 1965, as an LP track. The B-side was "Till the End of Forever", which is reminiscent of Paul Anka’s "You Are My Destiny". It would be Danny Valentino’s last MGM session. "There are many reasons why my contract with MGM ended abruptly, as a result of circumstances involving management, creative decisions and lack of guidance."

Curiously, in his 1998 MGM discography, French researcher Michel Ruppli mentions four unreleased Danny Valentino recordings, about which Vince knows absolutely nothing. "Where Mr. Ruppli came up with that information is beyond me and as a matter of fact faulty. My memories of those years are as clear to me as what I ate for breakfast this morning!"

There was still plenty of work in the music business for Vince, though, as a drummer and a demo singer. "As a drummer I played with many known jazz players : Candido, Dakota Staton, Dave Shilkraut, Bobby Porcelli, Steve Kuhn, etc. One time on the road with Dick Clark’s ‘Cavalcade of Stars’, Santo and Johnny’s drummer didn’t show up. They were so upset that I decided to offer my services. At first they were unsure, but after they heard me play the drums I could ride with them in their brand new Studebaker Golden Hawk instead of on the tour bus."

As Vince Pacimeo he has recorded a lot of songs for many labels, but to his knowledge nothing was ever released. At present (February 2016) he is in the process of completing his first CD. "Most of the music and the lyrics on my CD are derived from my personal experiences in trying to raise my consciousness. All my songs on the CD are a combination of jazz influenced backgrounds and effectively simple soul driven lyrics." As an actor, Vince has appeared in (among others) "And Your Name Is Jonah" (1979), "Wise Guys" (directed by Brian De Palma, 1986) and in eight episodes of the TV series "Law and Order" (1994-2002). Currently he is in the final stages of having his one man show, "Tug of Hearts", produced in West Hollywood.

Vince lives with his wife, Vicki, an
accomplished painter, in Riverdale,
New York. "Life is good, and every
day I invite it."

Photo left: Vince Pacimeo, 2016

YouTube :
Stampede : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3i_WtkU1eg
Music Man : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=su__ojq6meY
Biology : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQjtkO6IlcU
A Million Tears : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2smrTSX85c
Pictures From the Past : https://youtu.be/U1xsBEOQyIA
Till the End of Forever : https://youtu.be/VAMOReS8SRU

Dik, February 2016

 
These pages were saved from "This Is My Story" for reference usage only. Please note that these pages were not originally published or written by BlackCat Rockabilly Europe. For comments or information please contact Dik de Heer at dik.de.heer@ziggo.nl

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