Santo & Johnny Biography

Santo Farina (24 October 1937, Brooklyn, New York, USA; steel guitar) and Johnny Farina (b. 30 October 1941, Brooklyn, New York, USA; rhythm guitar, steel guitar). Santo and Johnny’s father, a serviceman, had found the steel guitar on C&W records very soothing when he was overseas. He encouraged his children to learn the instrument and was impressed when they wrote an instrumental, ‘Sleep Walk’, which was released on the Canadian-American label. (The record label and the publicity referred to a third composer, Ann Farina, who was supposedly a sister. This was a mistake - they did not even have a sister.) Although the haunting sound could easily be duplicated today, it was highly original for 1959. The record topped the US charts, selling over two million copies, but only made number 22 in the UK. Since then, the tune has become a standard and there are versions by the Ventures, the Shadows and, with words, Caterina Valente. Santo And Johnny had moderate success with ‘Tear Drop’ and the albums, Sleep Walk and Encore. They often recorded in an Hawaiian setting and some of their later titles are ‘Goldfinger’, ‘Spanish Harlem’ and ‘Last Tango In Paris’. In their later years together, they tried to shake their ‘easy listening’ tag by adding fuzz guitar and doing songs by Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. They also recorded many Italian tunes as they established a huge following there, being awarded 33 gold discs. The duo split in the 70s and both have released their own albums - Johnny’s label Aniraf is his surname backwards. The eerie ‘Sleep Walk’ was later used as the theme of the Stephen King movie, The Sleepwalkers and it continues to be played regularly on oldies radio stations earning it ‘all-time classic’ status. In 2002 Santo And Johnny were inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.

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

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