Born Armando Greco in Philadelphia in 1926, he was playing piano as a toddler and went on tour as a singer with Goodman’s orchestra when he was just 16. Four years later, he left to develop his solo career as a singer and pianist in nightclubs.
In 1960, Greco had a top 30 UK hit with his version of ‘The Lady Is A Tramp,’ the Rodgers and Hart song first recorded in 1937 and interpreted by hundreds of artists including Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and even the Supremes. Greco’s one US chart record was a modest 1962 hit on Epic, ‘Mr. Lonely.’
In November 1963, he was on the bill for the Royal Variety Performance, held at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London’s Leicester Square in the presence of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. The evening also featured such diverse talents as Marlene Dietrich, still appearing with her musical director Burt Bacharach, and British entertainers including Max Bygraves, Charlie Drake, Tommy Steele, Eric Sykes & Hattie Jacques and Harry Secombe.
The headliners that night were The Beatles, by then a UK sensation. This was the performance that included John Lennon‘s famous line, before the closing ‘Twist and Shout,’ when he cheekily said: “Will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And for the rest of you, if you’ll just rattle your jewellery…”
Greco became a well-known face on TV and in movies in the 1960s, in the series Away We Go and, in 1969, playing Lucky Jones in The Girl Who Knew Too Much, starring Adam (Batman) West. He recorded for Epic from the 1950s to the mid-’60s before signing to Sinatra’s Reprise label and releasing such albums as In A Brand New Bag and Big Bands and Ballads. Greco became good friends with Sinatra and the other members of the Rat Pack.
Later, he moved to London, where he co-produced the show Fever! The Music of Miss Peggy Lee. As a measure of his stature, Greco was invited to perform on the 2011 edition of Jools Holland’s annual BBC TV Hootenanny special for New Year’s Eve. He died in Las Vegas on 10 January 2017, at the age of 90.
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