Page last updated at 09:05 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 10:05 UK

First chart-topper Martino dies

Al Martino in 2003

US singer Al Martino, who scored the UK's first number one record, has died at the age of 82.

His song, Here In My Heart, took top spot when the New Musical Express introduced its chart in November 1952 and stayed there for nine weeks.

Martino, who also played Johnny Fontane in 1972 film The Godfather, died at his childhood home in Philadelphia.

The former bricklayer's other hits included Spanish Eyes, Can't Help Falling in Love and Volare.

Palladium comeback

He also recorded the title tune to The Godfather and reprised his role as the singer godson of Don Vito Corleone - played by Marlon Brando - in the 1990 sequel The Godfather Part III.

Martino - who was born Alfred Cini - also performed the track featured in the first film's wedding scene.

His character was said to be based on Frank Sinatra.

Al Martino in 1955
Martino is credited as one of the great Italian-American crooners

In 1952, the singer performed at the London Palladium and was planning a return for the 50th anniversary of his landmark hit, according to publicist Sandy Friedman.

The nine-week run of his UK hit has since been beaten by only four singles, including Everything I Do (I Do It For You) by Bryan Adams, which topped the chart for 16 weeks in 1991.

Here In My Heart remained his only UK number one, and his last brush with the chart came in 1973 with a re-release of Spanish Eyes.

The crooner's chart career in the US was stalled by the growth of rock'n'roll in the late 1950s, but he returned during the 1960s with a run of Billboard hits.

In the 1980s he left his record company and continued to perform on the club circuit.

His most recent album, Style, was made nine years ago.



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