Many people thought Nino Tempo & April Stevens were husband and wife, but not so. They were brother and sister. They were born in Niagara Falls, New York, April in 1929 and Nino in 1935 and both of them (whose real names were Antonio and Carol LoTempio) were musically inclined from a young age. When Nino was six years old, his mother took him to a Benny Goodman concert and his mother urged him to go on stage and tell Goodman that someone had bet him Goodman wouldn’t let him sing on stage. Benny Goodman thought the kid was cute and so, let him sing. He was so impressed that Nino came back several more times to sing for Benny Goodman.
The family moved to California and in the early Fifties and April had a fairly successful solo career, although none of her songs hit the charts. After meeting Benny Goodman, Nino decided to take up the clarinet and then the saxophone and he was playing with Bobby Darin’s band when he met Ahmet Ertegun, a producer for Atlantic Records. Ertegun invited himself over to their house and signed them to a recording contract.
“Deep Purple” goes back to the big band days. It was written in 1933 and recorded by people like Jimmy Dorsey, Guy Lombardo and Bing Crosby. But the biggest hit was the version by Larry Clinton who hit number one in 1939. April Stevens loved the song and wanted to record it as their first single as a duo. Nino did the arrangement and when they recorded it, Nino was supposed to sing the second verse alone. He forgot the words and April had to prompt him with the words and, thus we get the speaking part of April about half way through the song. The record company loved the speaking part and decided to leave it in, although Nino hated it. (As a side note, the great Glen Campbell plays guitar on the recording.)
When they finished the recording, they sent the proof to Ertegun and he hated it. He thought it was the most embarrassing thing he had ever heard. He told them it should be the B-side of a record with the A-side being a song called “I’ve Been Carrying a Torch for You So Long That I Burned a Great Big Hole in My Heart.” I am not kidding. That was the name of the song Ertegun wanted to release. Luckily, the radio stations liked “Deep Purple” and it became the big hit. The (now) B-side, “I’ve Been Carrying….” went down in history as the longest title on the B-side of a number one record. Yes, they have an award for everything. This dubious honor held for 21 years until Prince recorded “When Doves Cry” and put a song on it’s B-side that was even longer. I’ll let you go find that title. It’s too long to include here.
“Deep Purple” entered the pop charts on October 5, 1963 and stayed at number one for one week. It has the honor of kicking “Sugar Shack” out of the number one spot.