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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 08:43 GMT
Crooner Frankie Laine dies at 93
Frankie Laine appearing in Liverpool in 1954
Frankie Laine was one of the leading pre-rock 'n' roll performers
Veteran singer Frankie Laine has died in a California hospital aged 93 after suffering a heart attack following hip replacement surgery.

He was one of the most popular singers of the late 1940s and 1950s before rock 'n' roll put him in the shade.

His hits include Jezebel, I Believe, and the theme from television Western series Rawhide.

"He was one of the greatest singers, one of the last Italian crooner types," said his producer Jimmy Marino.

He gave his last public performance little more than a year ago, singing his first big hit That's My Desire on a TV show.

Born Frank LoVecchio, he was the son of a barber who moved to the United States from Sicily.

He struggled to earn a living until he was in his 30s. He had his first hit in 1947, after jazz musician Hoagy Carmichael enthused about his performance in a Los Angeles nightclub.

"Ten years is a good stretch of scuffling," Laine later said. "But I scuffled for 17 years before it happened, and 17 is a bit much."

Country covers

Frankie Laine in 1949
Laine carried on performing until shortly before his death
In a career lasting four decades, Laine achieved 21 gold records, and sold about 250 million albums.

Among his other hits were Mule Train, Cool Water, Granada and That Lucky Old Sun.

He holds a UK singles chart record for the most weeks at number one with one song, with I Believe topping the chart for 18 weeks in three spells during the spring and summer of 1953.

Laine enjoyed two other number one hits later that year, Hey Joe, and Answer Me, giving him 27 weeks at the top of the chart in 1953.

He had a further chart-topper in 1956, A Woman In Love.

As well as Rawhide, he sang the theme to Mel Brooks' parody 1974 Western movie, Blazing Saddles.

He also covered songs by country singers, including Hank Williams' classics Hey Good Lookin' and Your Cheatin' Heart.

Laine's family said he would be remembered for the beautiful music he brought into the world, his wit and his sense of humour.

Frankie Laine speaking to the BBC on his 90th birthday

Obituary: Frankie Laine
07 Feb 07 |  Entertainment
A fan's final farewell to Frankie
07 Feb 07 |  South of Scotland

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