Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Dean's son RICCI MARTIN of "Dino" if not DINO, DESI AND BILLY has died

If Dean Martin was alive, he’d be about 99. Would his heart have taken the strain of having a son die?

Dean’s heart was already broken when his son Dean Paul Martin was killed back in 1987 in a plane crash. It was well documented by his friends (including Jerry Lewis) and his family (including Ricci) that Dean simply never recovered from this tragic loss.

Dean's career was on the skids in 1987 (as were Frank and Sammy’s). An attempt to use work as occupational therapy failed; he was simply depressed and unmotivated in doing the same old crooning songs and drunk-joke patter. He was not, unlike Frank and Sammy, driven to stay in the spotlight even with diminished skills.

Dean became reclusive, to the point where he’d be found sitting alone in a local restaurant, sometimes having a spaghetti dinner, sometimes just sitting at the bar having a drink, his teeth in a glass beside him. “Wussup, waddya doin’,” some old time pal might ask with a grin. Dean's reply: “Waiting to die.”

Dean Paul Martin was the first of Dean's kids to enter show biz. Like Gary Lewis, who was making Dean's former partner Jerry Lewis proud, the young Dean chose bubble gum music for his category. Calling himself “Dino,” hw became a third of “Dino, Desi and Billy.” The trio included Desi Arnaz, Jr. and homely Billy Hinsche. Their top 20 hit in 1965 was “I’m a Fool.” I doubt these guys were even competition for Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. (You remember them? They recorded “Hair On My Chinny Chin Chin (Huff 'n Puff)” on the 1966 album, “If Music Be the Food of Love Prepare for Indigestion.” And don’t think I’m joking!)

Ricci (who died on August 3rd) emerged about a decade after his older brother's hits began to wane. Ricci offered up a debut album in 1977 called “Beached.” His partner in crime was Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, who ironically would marry one of Dean Martin’s daughters, Gina, a decade later. And then get divorced.

“Stop, Look Around” was the single from it. It’s below. It’s just an ordinary song from an ordinary nasal tenor, with a slight bit of Beach Boys harmony tossed in the mix. And since it’s Carl Wilson not Van Dyke Parks, it’s not too fey. But it’s still not too good.

After kicking around for many years, Ricci replaced his dead brother Dino in a re-hash of Dino, Desi and Billy, now simply called “Dino.” Perhaps they thought aging women who remembered the old trio would get wet for them, without slathering some Vaseline in. Maybe "Dino" hoped to attract dyslexics who thought they were going to see Dion.

Interesting how genetics works, or doesn’t. You might get an odd variation on the original (Gary Lewis to Jerry Lewis) or nothing much at all (Sonny and Cher’s kid, for example.)

Following in the chin straps of Frank Sinatra Jr., Ricci in latter middle age put together a tribute to his famous father, and was doomed to that purgatory until he, like Frank Jr., died. He was 62. Frank Jr. (who died about five months ago) was 72.


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