Night & Day — Orlando’s four years on television represent a small part of his legendary career. His first hit record as a solo artist was “Halfway to Paradise” written by Carol King. That was back in 1961, before either The Beatles or The Rolling Stones even charted.
“This whole journey for me has been very rich, 52 years in the music business and I am still two years younger than Paul McCartney. How is that possible?”
In addition to the parade of hits like “Candida”, “Knock Three Times” and “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”, Orlando spent four years at Columbia Records on the corporate side of the business.
“In the four years I was there I represented some great artists like James Taylor, Barry Manilow, Laura Nyro and Blood, Sweat and Tears. Even though it was a big business, we all knew each other. Those four years catapulted me into the music business.”
No discussion of Orlando’s career is complete without touching on his relationship with the late Freddie Prinze. Orlando and Prinze were ten years apart in age but had strikingly similar physical characteristics and on screen charm.
“Freddie Prinze had no boundaries to his future, he was 22 years-old and had already sat in Johnny Carson’s chair and hosted “The Tonight Show,” and he hosted an inaugural ball for Jimmy Carter.”
Prinze’s son, Freddie Prinze Jr. has established himself as an actor, and I asked Orlando what he thinks of as he sees his Prinze Jr.’s career develop.
“I held Freddie Prinze Jr in my arms when he was a year old. He had his first birthday party at my house. He has gone on to a great career as an actor. His mother deserves all the credit, she moved him to Albuquerque, N.M. and gave him a normal life. I have great respect for her and I’m sure his father is proud of him as well. Freddie Prinze Sr. was like a younger brother to me.”
Tony Orlando performs at the Seneca Niagara Casino Thursday-Sunday with tickets starting at $15. For showtimes check senecaniagaracasino.com. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or at the Seneca Niagara box office.Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.