It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that Frankie Avalon is not his real name, although his real name is not that different. He was born Francis Thomas Avallone in 1939 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In his youth he wanted to be a boxer. But, then he saw the movie Young Man With a Horn starring Kirk Douglas and decided he wanted to play the trumpet for a living. It turned out that he was something of a prodigy on the trumpet. He could have easily made a living playing, but fate had other ideas for Frankie. He joined a band as a teenager and played in places they wouldn’t have let him in if he hadn’t been with the band. The band had two vocalists, but sometimes Frankie sat in and sang vocals, too.
One day a childhood friend of Frankie came to hear the band. He had started a record company and was looking for vocalists to record. He listened to the other two vocalists and then listened to Frankie. He told Frankie he wanted to record him. Frankie didn’t want to sing, he wanted to play, but he went along with it. So on a recording session a few months later they were recording a song and Frankie held his nose letting the people know what he thought of the song. The sound was different and the recording people liked it. That song turned out to be “Dee Dee Dinah” and was was Frankie Avalon’s first hit. It reached number seven on the charts. Frankie was on his way and the trumpet was left behind.
There were a couple other hits and then someone played a song for Frankie called “Venus” written by Ed Marshall. Frankie liked it very much. He traveled to New York, recorded the song and took it back to Philadelphia where he played it for Dick Clark of American Bandstand fame. Clark liked the song and a week later Chancellor Records released the single. It took four weeks to enter the Billboard Hot 100 and, of course, it went right to number one. The song entered the charts on February 23, 1959 and spent five weeks at number one.
Here is a really cool video of “Venus” The best part is it shows Dick Clark’s introduction of the song on Bandstand and then a little presentation after the song is over. We usually don’t get that much of the show in these videos. Hope you enjoy it: