Julius LaRosa Biography

2 January 1930, New York City, New York, USA. La Rosa grew up listening to records by singers such as Frank Sinatra and bands including Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller. After finishing high school he joined the US Navy and during this period of service he sang with the US Navy Band in Washington, DC, where he was heard by Arthur Godfrey who told him to come and see him when he was discharged. La Rosa did so and within a week of leaving the navy, he was appearing on Godfrey’s television show. For two years from November 1951, La Rosa was a member of the hugely popular CBS TV series Arthur Godfrey And His Friends.

Although kept very busy with the Godfrey show and other in-between engagements, La Rosa also took singing lessons with Gian Carlo Menotti. Starting in 1952, he also made records for Cadence Records, a company formed by Godfrey’s orchestra leader, Archie Bleyer, apparently for the express purpose of recording La Rosa. His first release was ‘Anywhere I Wander’ and it went straight into the national Top 30. His follow-up was less successful but the third, 1953’s, ‘Eh, Cumpari’, reached second spot on the charts and La Rosa won awards and acclaim. On 19 October 1953, however, shortly before the record’s release, La Rosa was fired on air by Godfrey. This action lowered the public’s esteem of Godfrey, and his career soon afterwards went into decline. Meanwhile, the incident served to boost awareness of the singer and his next release, ‘Domani (Tomorrow)’, was another hit. A string of hits followed in the late 50s, including ‘Suddenly There’s A Valley’, ‘Lipstick And Candy And Rubbersole Shoes’, ‘Get Me To The Church On Time’, and ‘Torero’.

For his repertoire, La Rosa draws extensively upon the Great American Song Book, paying special attention to lyricists including, Stephen Sondheim, Lorenz Hart, Sammy Cahn, and Johnny Mercer. La Rosa worked as a disc jockey for WNEW in New York during the early 70s, and has performed in the theatre in shows such as Come Blow Your Horn, Kiss Me, Kate, Guys And Dolls and West Side Story. He has acted on television, appearing on Another World for which he was nominated in 1980 for an Emmy as Best Supporting Actor Daytime. In 1995 he appeared at the New York JVC Jazz Festival in a Mercer tribute, a concert version of the book, Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil, later travelling with the show. An assured and distinctive singer, La Rosa successfully brought his original liking for the work of Sinatra to the music of Broadway with tasteful and highly entertaining results.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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