We have a lot of disparate information to go over this week, so let’s get right to it.
There have been many well-known brother-sister acts in entertainment history: Fred and Adele Astaire, Richard and Karen Carpenter, Donny and Marie Osmond. Less well known are siblings April Stevens and Nino Tempo. It isn’t that they didn’t have their share of fame during the 1960s, it’s just that most people were unaware that they were brother and sister. Having stage names didn’t help. They were born Carol and Antonino LoTempio in Niagara Falls, New York. Carol/April began her recording career in the late 1950s, scoring a minor hit with the novelty song “Teach Me, Tiger” in 1959. She and Nino joined forces not long after and hit number one on the Billboard pop chart with “Deep Purple,” a song written in 1933 by pianist Peter DeRose. The song made DeRose a lot of money in the early 20th century and made his estate even more money after April and Nino’s version. It was subsequently recorded by other artists including the aforementioned Donnie and Marie, who took it to #14 on the charts in 1976.
Here are April and Nino performing “Land of 1000 Dances” for our old friends at Scopitone. This song was written in 1962 by Chris Kenner, a man who had a #2 hit in 1961 with the rock classic “I Like It Like That.”
Did I mention that we have a lot of info to cover?
“Land of 1000 Dances“ was recorded by Kenner and went to #77, but it was the version by Cannibal and The Headhunters, which added the iconic “na-na” background, that went to #30 in 1965. Wilson Pickett recorded the most successful version in 1966, peaking at #6.
Kenner’s original recording mentions sixteen dances: the Pony, the Chicken, the Mashed Potato, the Alligator, the Watusi, the Twist, the Fly, the Jerk, the Tango, the Yo-Yo, the Sweet Pea, the Hand Jive, the Slop, the Bop, the Fish, and the Popeye. That’s not really relevant information, but I love repeating it.
Have a groovy weekend!
Groovy Friday extra!
I can’t leave you without April and Nino’s biggest hit.