Advertisement

Ricci Martin remembers his crooning father, Dean

July 13, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

"A Son Remembers" is the name of Ricci Martin's tribute to his father, Dean Martin.

The salute, full of the late crooner's songs, family photos and memories, will be on The Maryland Theatre stage at 2 and 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 15.

"It's absolutely a love letter to Dad," Martin says.

The show - with Martin singing 19 of his father's hits - is a love song.

Although Martin has been told he sounds like his dad, he sings the trademark songs in his own voice.

"I don't try to be Dad. I'm just me."

That "me" is the 49-year-old father of three daughters, ages 6, almost 8 and almost 11. Although he fondly remembers the Beverly Hills home of his childhood, Martin lives in Utah - a little east of Park City.

Advertisement

His book, "That's Amore, a Son Remembers Dean Martin," written with Christopher Smith, was published last year.

Ricci Martin didn't set out to publish a biography, but as he got older, he realized the wonderful memories of his father - the dad who was home for dinner every night, as well as the nightclub, movie and television star who ran with the "Rat Pack" - needed to be preserved.

"I just wanted to put it down on paper," he said in a recent phone interview from Cleveland, not too far from his father's native Steubenville, Ohio. He was scheduled for a couple of shows there before performances in Hagerstown and Pennsylvania. He'll also be sharing the bill in Buffalo, N.Y., with Gary Lewis, son of Jerry Lewis, his father's one-time partner in radio, movies and television. Martin tells the story of the duo's split during a segment of his show.

Gathering and documenting his memories and photos from his mother's albums became important to Martin. He wanted to record the story for himself and keep it alive for his children. If he didn't, he says, "It would be gone."

Martin started putting the show together in August. An eight-week engagement at Las Vegas' Riviera helped him to know what worked, what the audience liked.

"A Son Remembers" is not Martin's first stage experience. He's had bands and recordings and a career as a producer and director of music, films and videos. He produced a Dean Martin video - "Since I Met You Baby" - in 1985.

He calls that experience "the greatest thing in the world."

Dean Martin was known for his relaxed approach and presence. His line "One bead of sweat and it's all over. Not in my contract," fortified his laid-back appearance.

Martin says his father made everything he did look effortless, but he always hit his mark. He learned his lines, he knew his lyrics. "He took his work seriously, but he never gave the impression that he did."

He wasn't "full of himself."

"That's what I admire about him," Martin says.

It was in directing his father for the video that Martin realized what a joy he was to work with.

In the 1960s, Martin's friend and the current show's music director, Billy Hinsche, was the "Billy" of the band Dino, Desi and Billy. Martin's brother Dean-Paul Martin (who died in 1987) and young Desi Arnaz - the son of television stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz - were the other names.

A few years ago, Martin teamed up with Desi and Billy, performing as Ricci, Desi and Billy - a kind of "reconstituted" version of the earlier band.

One night they threw in a medley of Dean Martin hits, including "Volare" and "That's Amore." Ricci Martin says the audience went wild.

Hinsche, who played piano with the Beach Boys for 25 years, will play piano Tuesday at The Maryland Theatre. Other musicians are Wayne Tweed on bass, drummer Bobby Figueroa and Bobby Zarate on synthesizer.

"It's all tuxedos," Martin says of the show, yet despite the formal attire, he compares its ambience to a living room. He takes time to go into the audience and chat with members, answering questions, sharing stories.

"This ain't no stuffy thing," Martin says.

"A Son Remembers" is not Martin's first stage experience. He's had bands and recordings and a career as a producer and director of music, films and videos. He produced a Dean Martin video - "Since I Met You Baby" - in 1985.

He calls that experience "the greatest thing in the world."

Dean Martin was known for his relaxed approach and presence. His line "One bead of sweat and it's all over. Not in my contract," fortified his laid-back appearance.

Martin says his father made everything he did look effortless, but he always hit his mark. He learned his lines, he knew his lyrics. "He took his work seriously, but he never gave the impression that he did."

He wasn't "full of himself."

"That's what I admire about him," Martin says.

It was in directing his father for the video that Martin realized what a joy he was to work with.

In the 1960s, Martin's friend and the current show's music director, Billy Hinsche, was the "Billy" of the band Dino, Desi and Billy. Martin's brother Dean-Paul Martin (who died in 1987) and young Desi Arnaz - the son of television stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz - were the other names.

A few years ago, Martin teamed up with Desi and Billy, performing as Ricci, Desi and Billy - a kind of "reconstituted" version of the earlier band.

One night they threw in a medley of Dean Martin hits, including "Volare" and "That's Amore." Ricci Martin says the audience went wild.

Hinsche, who played piano with the Beach Boys for 25 years, will play piano Tuesday at The Maryland Theatre. Other musicians are Wayne Tweed on bass, drummer Bobby Figueroa and Bobby Zarate on synthesizer.

"It's all tuxedos," Martin says of the show, yet despite the formal attire, he compares its ambience to a living room. He takes time to go into the audience and chat with members, answering questions, sharing stories.

"This ain't no stuffy thing," Martin says.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|