Interview: Frank D'Rone (Part 2) - JazzWax

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April 01, 2010


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wen mew

used to jam with JOHNNY FRIGO in chicago; he would always want to play; pulled out his violin wherever he went. also played in BILL RUSSO'S big band in chicago. he transcribed BLACK, BROWN AND BEIGE for us to play. and when i was like in the 8th grade PHYLLIS DILLER brought us (i was in her son's band.) to the HUNGRY EYE; i was too young to appreciate the likes of VINCE GUARADLDI, FRANK D'RONE, but i knew i liked the music.

Nick Rossi

A quick footnote about Fack's II. It was located downtown near Union Square at 960 Bush Street. Numerous jazz, pop, and comedy stars appeared there including Duke Ellington, Lenny Bruce, June Christy, Mary Kaye, and Jack Jones. Fack's (1) was originally located on Market Street, opened by a fellow named Jack Rushin in 1946 - but according to his grandson was supposed to be called Jack's. I guess he ordered a neon sign which arrived with an F in place of the J and he stuck with it. Local impresario George Andros eventually took ownership of the place and opened Fack's II (as in Number 2) on Bush Street as early as 1952 or as late as 1956, I've yet to determine the exact date. I've read that it closed as early as 1960 due to problems with the IRS, but have also seen mentions of it as late as 1962. It later operated as a jazz club called The Neve, went topless as The Quake, and briefly operated as The Troubadour North during the 1960s before becoming The Boarding House in 1970. It's in this last incarnation that many San Franciscans remember it as it was a comedy club that featured most of the biggest names in that field during the 1970s (Steve Martin, Robin Williams, et al.). It closed in 1980 and was bulldozed to make room for condos.

John Herr

I got hip to Frank D'Rone through '03 Verve compilation CD called When Love Goes Wrong, with a lurid cover that could have graced a '40s pulp crime mag. It showed a betrayed femme fatale being led away in handcuffs by the cops from the hotel room where she'd slain her faithless lover, the rat's other woman cowering on the floor in a bedsheet. On the disc, Billie Holiday sang "Good Morning, Heartache" & Mel Torme crooned "Gloomy Sunday". I'd heard all the other singers before, even the doomed Beverly Kenney, except for D'Rone, who was represented by "Everything Happens to Me". I immediately ordered a copy of After the Ball on LP, since nothing by D'Rone appeared to be available on CD at the time. His heart-broken tenor voice was perfect for Matt Dennis's world-weary lyrics on this tune. Hope he gains more recognition, if only belatedly.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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