Monday, January 14, 2013

Fabian--Tiger (1959)

     In the wake of Elvis Presley's success, record companies attempted to find their own gold mine. In doing so however, it was obvious that many knew little of what the core of this new "rock and roll" really was. First of all, this new market of teen buyers was still foreign in many ways to marketers. In previous days, pop records were made to the taste of adults, but as time went on the post-war era, teenagers were becoming more dominant in the marketplace, which began a search for a music to call their own. Secondly, those who had a bit of a clue about what the kids wanted, did NOT want anyone as dangerous as an Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis, or someone who was as flamboyant as a Little Richard. In other words, a singer that you could bring home to meet mom. The success of Pat Boone suggested to the suits who ran these companies, that you could have someone who was good looking, could sing and had a more wholesome image.
     Looking back now over 50 years later and we see that although this short term strategy was proven successful on the charts, artistically the results were mixed. Of course, for many of these older guys, none of them believed rock and roll was going to be around forever, so short term gain was all that was expected anyway.
     Fabian Anthony Forte was born in Philadelphia in 1943, and was discovered by Bob Marcucci and Peter DeAngelis on the recommendation of Frankie Avalon and was signed to Chancellor Records. One has to remember that because American Bandstand was being broadcast out of Philly at the time (and on everyday no less), there was a fierce competition among record labels citywide to provide good looking men (especially), who could carry a tune who could be promoted on the show.  This formula worked well for about a year (1959) before the hits began to dry up.
      Although he released songs until 1963, his career on the charts was over by the end of 1960. He became the poster boy for those who criticize the, "looks first--talent second" artists of the late 50's/early 60's, mainly due to his testimony in Congress during the payola scandal. In those probes he admitted to the world that his voice had received a substantial amount of electronic doctoring to improve his voice.  Although he voice wasn't very good, he was far from the only artist who had their voices enhanced. A listen to many of the singers of that day shows that the echo chamber was a friend to many.
     After the music had run it's course, he attempted to follow Avalon's footsteps into films. Although his short term was not close to his friends, he managed to have a nice career throughout the 60's and into the early 70's.


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