Jerry Vale (July 8, 1930 - May 18, 2014) was a traditional pop singer with a smooth, melodious tenor and a flair for romantic ballads who became famous beginning in the mid 1950s. Born Genaro Louis Vitaliano in the Bronx, New York to Italian immigrant parents, he began performing publically while in high school when he took a job shining shoes in a barbershop where he sang while he worked. During the early 1950s, Vale was discovered by hit songwriter Paul Insetta who heard him performing at a local nightclub. Insetta signed Vale to a management contract and arranged for him to record some demos of songs he had written, which he then passed on to Columbia Records, leading to a recording contract.
Jerry Vale made his debut on the Pop charts in 1953 with "You Can Never Give Me Back My Heart," an impassioned ballad with instrumental backing by Percy Faith & His Orchestra which became the first of many Top 40 hits. This smash was followed by "Two Purple Shadows" (1954), "I Live Each Day" (1954), "When I Let You Go" (1955), "Innamorata (Sweetheart)" (1956), and his greatest hit, "You Don't Know Me" (1956), which made the Top 20. Other late 1950s hits included "Pretend You Don't See Her" (1957) and "Go Chase A Moonbeam" (1958), and several minor hits followed through the early 1960s before Vale topped the Adult Contemporary chart in 1964 with the wistful "Have You Looked Into Your Heart." His long string of hits on both the Pop/Rock and Adult Contemporary charts also included "For Mama" (1965), "Tears Keep On Falling" (1965), "Where Were You When I Needed You" (1965), "Dommage, Dommage (Too Bad, Too Bad)" (1966), "Time Alone Will Tell (Non Pensare a Me)" (1967), "In The Back Of My Heart" (1967), and "Don't Tell My Heart To Stop Loving You" (1968). His final chart entry came in 1971 with "My Little Girl (Angel All A-glow)," which made the Adult Contemporary Top 40. In addition to his many top hits, other songs for which Vale became famous include his covers of such Italian standards as "Al Di La," "Amore, Scusami," "Arrivederci, Roma," "Ciao, Ciao, Bambina," "Innamorata (Sweetheart)," "O Sole Mio," and "Volare." Also, his rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," recorded in 1963, was a longtime staple at sporting events which he often performed live at Yankee Stadium and other venues.
Since his commercial peak in the late 1950s-early 1960s, Vale continued to perform and record actively through the 1990s, amassing a loyal fan base, and he released dozens of albums over his long career. Many of his Italian songs covers were featured in the soundtracks to movies directed by Martin Scorsese that included "Goodfellas" (1990) and "Casino" (1995), both of which feature cameo appearances by Vale playing himself. Jerry Vale was later portrayed by Steven Van Zandt in "The Irishman" (2019), another Scorsese-directed film featuring music by Vale.
- Jerry Vale discusses his early career and other topics in an interview with Gary James of classicbands.com.
- The Washington Post remembers pop crooner Jerry Vale.
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