Frankie Carle

Photo of Frankie Carle
  • Birth Name

    Francis Nunzio Carlone
  • Born

    March 25, 1903
    Providence, Rhode Island
  • Died

    March 7, 2001 (age 97)
    Mesa, Arizona

Pianist and band­leader Frankie Carle’s ca­reer spanned sev­enty years. His first pro­fes­sional job came in 1916, work­ing in his un­cle’s band for a dol­lar a week. He briefly led his own out­fit in 1920 be­fore join­ing Edwin J. McEnelley in 1921, with whom he made his first record­ings.

In 1936, Carle joined Mal Hallett. When Hallett’s band broke up in 1937, Carle led his own re­gional out­fit around New England. His big break came in 1939 when he joined Horace Heidt. Gaining ex­po­sure on Heidt’s na­tional ra­dio pro­gram, Carle quickly be­came pop­u­lar for his pi­ano style and found him­self in big de­mand.

In 1941, a re­cently drafted Eddy Duchin asked Carle to take over his or­ches­tra for twenty five per­cent of the gross while he was away. When Carle men­tioned it to Heidt, Heidt of­fered Carle a thou­sand dol­lars a week plus five per­cent of the gross. Carle stayed on with Heidt. When Heidt de­cided to re­tire in 1944, he helped Carle form his own or­ches­tra.

Carle’s group charted sev­eral hits for Columbia dur­ing the 1940s and ap­peared on two ra­dio pro­grams. Al Avola and Frank DeVol arranged. Vocalists in­cluded Paul Allen, Lee Columbo, Betty Bonney, Phyllis Lynne, and Marjorie Hughes. Hughes was ac­tu­ally Carle’s daugh­ter. When Carle was search­ing for a new vo­cal­ist, his wife slipped Margie’s record­ing into the stack of demos, and Carle un­know­ingly choose her. He changed her name so as to let her build her own rep­u­ta­tion, but gos­sip colum­nist Walter Winchell let the se­cret out af­ter her first big hit, Oh, What It Seemed to Be.”

When the age of big bands faded dur­ing the 1950s, Carle formed a slimmed-down unit. Known as Frankie Carle and His Rhythm, the group con­sisted of Carle on pi­ano with four fe­male mu­si­cians on gui­tar, drums, ac­cor­dion and bass. The combo played smaller halls and recorded for RCA. Carle semi-re­tired dur­ing the 1960s but be­came ac­tive again dur­ing the big band re­vival of the 1970s. Carle’s last tour was in 1983. He re­tired to Mesa, Arizona, to be near his daugh­ter. Carle passed away in 2001, just 18 days shy of his 98th birth­day.


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  • A Little on the Lonely Side
    Frankie Carle (Paul Allen), Columbia (1944)
  • I Had a Little Talk with the Lord
    Frankie Carle (Paul Allen), Columbia (1944)
  • Evelina
    Frankie Carle (Paul Allen), Columbia (1944)
  • I Was Here When You Left Me (I'll Be Here When You Get Back)
    Frankie Carle (Phyllis Lynne), Columbia (1945)
  • I'm Glad I Waited for You
    Frankie Carle (Paul Allen), Columbia (1945)
  • Don't You Remember Me
    Frankie Carle (Paul Allen), Columbia (1945)

All recordings are from the Internet Archive's 78rpm collection. Copyright owners, please see our removal policy.