“Why” is the last song of the Fifties decade. It would be nice if the Fifties ended with a bang, but, instead, we go out on a slow note. It’s the second number this year for Frankie Avalon, the first being “Venus” earlier in 1959. He charted three times between the two number ones, but this would be his last time on top. As the Sixties began, Frankie became more interested in being an actor and his music career became less important.
“Why” was written by Frankie’s producer Bob Marcucci and Peter De Angelis. When Frankie heard the song, he thought it was “nice,” but didn’t see it as a number one. He was, obviously, wrong about that. A big mystery about the song is who is the female voice that sings one of the verses of the song. She is not given credit on the label and a search of the internet has not revealed any definitive data.
There is one fellow online who calls himself “Mr. Music” (find him here: http://www.jerryosborne.com/) and he has hazarded a guess as to identity of the girl. He thinks it is Fran Lori who was one of three solo female singers who were contracted to Chancellor Records (the label Frankie Avalon was signed to) and of the three, her voice is the closest to what we hear on “Why.” But, in reality nobody knows. Frankie is still alive. He is 77 and living in California. If I could get his address, I would write to him and ask him. Who know, maybe he would answer.
It’s surprising that the song did so well, because Frankie didn’t promote it at all. He was told by Marcucci that he should diversify and so he took acting and voice lessons and became an actor.By 1960 he was full time as an actor, starting out by appearing in various westerns, one of which was The Alamo, starring John Wayne. So, it didn’t take him long to rise to the top.
During the mid-Sixties, he starred in several of the famous “beach movies” with his former girlfriend Annette Funicello. They had to get Disney’s permission for her to appear with him. The beach movies were very popular and turned Frankie Avalon from a teen idol into a regular movie star.
“Why” entered the pop chart on December 7, 1959. It hit number one on December 27, where it stayed for one week, the last week of the decade.
I love these videos when they include some dialog from Dick Clark. Here is Frankie on American Bandstand.