Born in 1942 in Paramus, NJ, Frank Gari got into the business early—he had three top 40 hits before reaching the age of 20. Those were the days of the teen idol—Elvis was in the army, Little Richard had found Jesus, Jerry Lee Lewis had run off with his 13 year old cousin and a plane crash had taken Richie Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper from us. So the record executives got busy and gave the world the likes of Frankie Avalon, Fabian, and yes, Frank Gari—teenage boys with smoldering good looks and lyrics that spoke of perfect, idealized, undying, fairy tale love.
Don’t believe me? Well, just listen to “Princess.”
That song reached #30 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. Maybe this is pretty corny stuff, but you have to admire the work that went went into the recording—strings, classical guitar, lots of reverb on the vocals, and lyrics like “I’ll be your knight in shining armor/Show me some dragons to slay.” Clever.
“The Last Bus Left at Midnight” scared me a little when I first saw the title, thinking that it might be one of those creepy “Baby It’s Cold Outside” type of numbers where the man all but roofies his ladyfriend. Fortunately, Mr. Gari was more of a gentleman than that, choosing to take the time afforded him by fate to talk about the future with his dream girl. Pretty wholesome stuff.
“Utopia,” released in 1960, was also a good example of smooth, well-crafted pop that made girls of a certain starry-eyed disposition swoon every time.
So what is Frank Gari doing now? Well, he eventually became the undisputed king of television news jingles and radio call letter announcements, having created them for over 500 stations. Here are a few that he created for New York City’s WCBS 101.1.
Frank built on his jingle writing success and is now the CEO of Gari Media Group, a very successful promotional content firm in Westlake Village, California.
By the way, check out the annotation somebody’s obnoxious kid brother added to the label. The kid probably thought he was the paragon of wit when he changed last to furst. Or maybe this 45 was donated to the Archive by someone named Furst. Hard to tell.