Niagara Gazette

Columns

December 1, 2013

GLYNN: April & Nino won Grammy for '63 song

Niagara Gazette — When job opportunities appear hopeless, many people start looking elsewhere, even if it means moving far away from the hometown.

That was the dilemma that Caroline Vincinette LoTempio and her brother Nino faced in the early 1940s. Their parents, convinced of their children’s impressive talents for music, followed a friend’s suggestion and the whole family headed to Los Angeles. Except for a short relocation to the Cataract City — a temporary bout of homesickness — the LoTempios decided they really belonged in L.A.

Caroline was destined to gain fame as April Stevens, a recording artist, as she recounts in a delightful autobiography, “Teach Me Tiger,” a song she recorded in 1959, By the way, it’s still being played today and making money. “That song was never a hit, but it is by far may most famous solo outing,” she reveals in her book.

The author rightly credits her bother for his crucial role in the duo’s rise to stardom. “Nino would think of the notes and harmonies, write them down and teach them to me,” April said, “He is truly a great talent and an exceptional saxophonist,” she added.

Over the years, April and Dino developed numerous contacts with headliners in the entertainment industry. One example: They were at a small table at a cozy bar one evening — waiting to a table in the dining room — when they invited a pretty young gal with long dark hair sitting alone to join them for a drink. Turned out it was Cher and before long she and Nino would be dating a few times. Eventually, of course, Cher and Sonny Bono would make history together.

It took a while for April and her brother to get recognized amidst the scramble in the highly competitive field they had chosen to make a living. But the wait was worth every minute when a promoter at Atlantic City Records in New York City was thrilled with their recording of “Deep Purple” in 1963. “I love that record, and I’m going to make sure all of the disc jockeys I know play it because, if it’s played, people will buy it.” the promoter predicted. “And he was right,” April said. Nino’s song, “I’ve been Carrying a Torch for You So Long That I Burned a Great Big Hole in My Heart” was on the back side of the record (The longest title ever put on the “B” side of a No. 1 record, April quipped). Before “Deep Purple” was released, the duo was known as April Stevens and Nino Tempo, but then they decided to change the order and identify the team as Nino Tempo and April Stevens.

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