60s Music

Introduction to Steve Lawrence

Steve Lawrence
Publicity photo of Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. (Source: Wikipedia)

Introduction to Steve Lawrence

Singer and award-winning actor Steve Lawrence is probably remembered as a member of “Steve and Eydie” with his wife, singer Eydie Gorme. In his solo career Lawrence scored many Billboard hits such as “Party Doll,” “Pretty Blue Eyes,” “Footsteps,” and the chart-topper “Go Away, Little Girl.” He has been frequently appearing on television shows (since the 1960s) such as the Carol Burnett Show, The Judy Garland Show, Murder, She Wrote, CSI and The Gilmore Girls.

 

Early life: on the way to showbusiness

Steve Lawrence is an American singer and actor. Steve Lawrence was born Sidney Leibowitz in Brooklyn, New York on July 8, 1935. He is of Jewish descent. His house painter father was also a cantor (or “hazzan” in Jewish, like a choir member) in their own synagogue, where Lawrence first demonstrated his singing talents when he was a child.

When he reached puberty Lawrence gave up singing for a while but took piano and saxophone lessons, and by then he also began writing and arranging tunes. By the tie he was in high school Lawrenece returned to singing again. Lawrence went on to work at the famed Brill Building where he continued to hone his vocal talent by singing on demo records. Lawrence derived his stage name from taking the first names of his two nephews.

He later won the at the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts in 1951. Lawrence was still in his teens when he secured his first recording contract in 1952. His first charting single was “Poinciana,” which scored decently at #21 on the pop chart that same year. Lawrence also became a regular vocalist on the TV talk show Tonight!(which was then hosted by Steve Allen), and by then he had moved to Coral Records where he would score his first top 10 hit with “Party Doll.”

 

 

With wife Eydie Gorme

It was also on Tonight! where he met another resident vocalist Eydie Gorme, with whom Lawrence would establish a professional partnership by singing in duets with her. He also married Gorme in late 1957, and still continued singing together as one act “Steve and Eydie.” The husband-and-wife pop vocal duo would record for several labels Coral, ABC-Paramount, United Artists, RCA, MGM and many others. Their biggest hit together was “I Want to Stay Here,” which was a Top 40 pop hit and Top 10 adult contemporary hit in 1963. They continued to have placings mostly on the easy listening charts until the early 1970s.

 

 

 

Later recording, film and TV career; and wife Eydie’s retirement and death

As for Lawrence’s solo career, he would continue to score other big hits such as “Pretty Blue Eyes” (#9 pop, 1959), “Footsteps” (#4 US pop, #4 UK), “Portrait of My Love” (#9 pop, 1961) and his biggest hit single “Go Away, Little Girl” (written by Goffin-King husband-and-wife songwiting team then). The single reached #1 on both pop and easy listening charts.

In total he charted 22 times on the Hot 100 and 20 times on the adult contemporary singles chart until the mid-1970s. In 1980 he appeared on the film The Blues Brothers, introducing himself to a new generation of fans. He also hosted Foul-Ups, Bleeps and Blunders with comic man Don Rickles. In Steve Allen’s film adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, he and Gorme portrayed the roles of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, respectively. He also covered a collection of hits by Frank Sinatra, who had repeatedly said that Lawrence was the best male vocalist the Chairman of the Board himself had ever heard.

He and his wife Eydie Gorme continued to perform together until her retirement in 2009, and Lawrence embarked yet again a solo career. He lost his professional and life partner when Gorme died on August 10, 2013, just a week shy before her 85th birthday, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Lawrence has also appeared on several television shows since the 1960s: Carol Burnett Show, The Judy Garland Show, Murder, She Wrote, CSI, The Nanny, Two and a Half Men, The Yards, and The Gilmore Girls, among others. As an actor, he won an award from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle for his Broadway role inWhat Makes Sammy Run? in 1964, as well as two Emmys.

 

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