SANTO FARINA

Born 24 October 1937, Brooklyn, New York City, New York Santo Farina is one half of the guitar duo Santo and Johnny, who had a huge instrumental hit with "Sleepwalk" in 1959. As a boy Santo listened frequently to the "Hometown Frolics," a country radio show. Through that association he came to love the sound of the steel guitar by the time he was a teen. Santo convinced a neighbourhood music store to modify an acoustic guitar to allow him to play it like a steel. Santo was mesmerized with the sounds he could produce on his new guitar and practiced day and night. Within two years, he was performing for amateur shows on a new Gibson six-string steel guitar. Soon after, he acquired a steel guitar teacher who had learned the art in Hawaii. When his younger brother Johnny Farina (born 30 April 1941, Brooklyn), reached the age of twelve, Santo started teaching him how to play accompaniment on a standard electric guitar. The brothers formed a duo and were popular in school, where they played for dances and parties. With the help of their sister, Ann Farina, they wrote "Sleepwalk" in 1959 and recorded it at Trinity Music in Manhattan. The disc was leased to Canadian- American Records (a label started in February 1959 by Gene Orndorf of Minot, North Dakota) and in August 1959 it reached the # 1 spot on the pop charts. Fred Bronson's "Billboard Book of Number One Hits" says : "Producer : Not known", but I read somewhere on the Web that the producer was in fact Mort Garson. Some of you may remember Garson for the rockin' instrumental "Shoo Bird" (MGM, 1960), one of the first records I bought. (It was released in Holland, but not in the UK.) In the UK, "Sleep Walk" went no higher than # 22, on Pye International. "Sleep Walk" was followed with five lesser entries on the charts from 1959 to 1964, the most successful of which was the immediate follow-up, "Tear Drop" (# 23). However, my personal favourite is "Twistin' Bells", a rocked-up version of "Jingle Bells", which peaked at # 49 around Christmas 1960. Their fame spread to other countries and they were booked on tours of Australia, Mexico and Europe. In the US, their record sales began to wane by 1961. They made nine albums for Canadian-American (exactly half of the label's LP output), before the label folded in 1965. The first three of these LP's made the Billboard album charts More popular internationally than at home, Santo and Johnny continued to record well into the following decade, typically landing on little-known Italian labels. The duo finally disbanded in 1976, with Santo continuing on as a solo act. CD: The Best of Santo and Johnny (Stardust, 1997). 23 tracks. Website: http://www.sleep-walk.com/

 
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