Frankie Laine hit the music charts over 70 times, selling more than 250 million records. The eldest of eight children, Francesco Paolo LoVecchio was born in 1913 in Chicago. After marrying, he went to barber college, eventually opening a shop on Wabash Avenue in downtown Chicago. Before the Depression wiped it out, it had grown to eight chairs.
Al Capone was among the customers but, the singer recalled for the Reader in 1989, “He never came to the shop. Pa always had to go to the hotel to take care of him.” Asked for further memories of the notorious gangster, Frankie said that “those kinda things were always very closed-mouthed. You never talked about those people, and Pa wanted nothing to do with ’em.”
Laine and his wife, 1930s film actress Nan Grey, moved to the San Diego area in 1958. A Point Loma resident since 1968, he recorded local-centric songs like "San Diego, Lovely Lady By the Sea," and "Strike Up the Band For San Diego." His gold records include “That’s My Desire,’’ “Mule Train,” “Jezebel,” “High Noon,” “I Believe,” and ‘‘Moonlight Gambler.”
In a career that spanned over 70 years, his baritone also graced several western hits, including "High Noon," "Gunfight At the O.K. Corral," and "Blazing Saddles." His song "Rawhide" was heard in the Blues Brothers movie. His career winded down in the 1960s, though he still scored latterday hits with tracks like the Marty Robbins-penned "You Gave Me a Mountain."
Laine died in San Diego February 6, 2007.