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The Story of Frank Gari

Introduction to Frank Gari

Frank Gari (born Frank Daniel Garofalo in 1944) is an American singer-songwriter who achieved considerable fame in the 1950s-1960s. He was known for hits “Lullaby of Love,” “Princess” and “Utopia,” which all placed on the Top 40 pop chart. During his heyday as a singer, he also performed and promoted his records on various television shows such as American Bandstand, The Steve Allen Show, The Merv Griffin Show as well as on live shows including his performance at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. After his singing career Gari began what was to be a prolific career as composer of jingles and TV themes. His works have been heard on ABC (main themes), as well as on several news programs such as Eyewitness News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Phil Donahue Show, British news services Sky News, Germany’s RTL Television and many others.

Early Life

From the end of the 1950s to the beginning of the 1960s, Gari was a well-known singer and songwriter. His most well-known songs are “Utopia,” “Lullaby of Love,” and “Princess,” all of which reached the U.S. Top 40. 1961 Billboard charts Gari’s distinctive, rich voice, together with the carefully chosen melodic instrumentation and the accompanying vocalists, helped to contribute to this early recognition by creating a strong sense of magic, ethereal perfection, honesty, and emotion. Together with vocalist Bobby Darin, they co-wrote the song “Beach Ball” with Byrds member Roger McGuinn. As The City Surfers, Gari and McGuinn appeared on Capitol Records. On programs including The Merv Griffin Show, The Steve Allen Show, and American Bandstand, Gari performed his albums. Together with the Woody Herman Band, he also gave a performance in the “Imperial Room” of the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

He relocated to Cleveland that year and started writing jingles for television ads. His earliest ads were ones for Ohio Bell, Genie garage doors, and Wendy’s. Gari has received multiple Clio and Emmy honors, and the broadcasting business later presented him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Life and career as a singer and (later) renowned composer

Singer and songwriter Frank Daniel Garofalo was born on April 1, 1944 in New York City, New York. Also known as Frankie Gari, he is best known by the screen name “Frank Gari” and enjoyed his peak of success back in the late 50s and early 60s music scene.

Throughout Gari’s short-lived career, all of his singles made to the Billboard Top 40 charts. Things started to click when Gari released his first single “Utopia” in December 1960 and it entered the charts at #27. In April 1961, it was followed by “Lullaby of Love” which reached a little higher than the former, peaking at #23. Subsequently in the same year, Gari released “Princess,” his third and last single which peaked at #30.

Around 1963, Gari became a member of the duo City Surfers along with The Byrds’ frontman Roger McGuinn. The singing pair was signed under the label Capitol Records where they recorded their composition “Beach Ball.” Gari had also appeared on television shows such as The Merv Griffin Show, The Steve Allen Show and American Bandstand. In the same year, he worked as a jingle writer for TV commercials when he relocated to Cleveland, Ohio. Gari wrote commercial jingles for Wendy’s (a food chain), Ohio Bell (a telephone company), and Genie (a manufacturer of garage door openers) to name a few.

Later on, Gari became a producer and music composer for television newscasts which he has been now well-known for. In 1970, he had his first television theme and image campaign for Cleveland’s local station WEWS-TV entitled Catch 5. During the 1980’s, he was consistently composing music for the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). His works include Now is the Time, ABC is the Place,  Come On Along with ABC, That Special Feeling on ABC, and You’ll Love It on ABC. Gari also worked with fellow composer Artie Schroeck during that time. Later, he wrote music for variety of TV shows in different stations; Eyewitness News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, The Phil Donahue Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Because of his contributions in broadcast industry, Gari has received Emmy and Cleo awards several times and was presented with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 1993, Gari started to become an internationally-acclaimed composer for broadcasting when he wrote ‘Sky Symphony’ for BSkyB, a British telecommunications company. He also composed the theme for the news program “News Line” on RTL, a German television station.  That particular theme was later adopted by Maryland Public Television (US) and ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol (Philippines).

audio mixer

New Music Compositions

Gari is one of the most sought-after composers of music for television newscasts in America and is best recognized now for his work as a producer and composer of music for television. His first television theme and image campaign was the popular “Catch 5”, initially composed for WEWS-TV in Cleveland in 1970.

“Hello…” image campaign

The “Hello” image campaign was developed and produced by Gari as part of the “Hello News” news theme package, which has been called as “one of the most successful local television advertisements ever.”

The campaign was recorded with customized lyrics and graphics in almost 120 media markets across the United States, Canada, South America, and Australia, betraying the exclusivity implied in the opening lyric of “There’s a sensation in the air that you can’t get anywhere but (location)”. On WISN-TV, it made its premiere in 1977 as “Hey Milwaukee.”

After host Ira Glass had spoken with a supporter of “Hey Calgary,” Gari was asked about the initiative on This American Life, Episode 520 (“No Place Like Home”) in 2014. Glass surprised the fan by releasing variations for other markets, shattering his assumption that the music was unique to his hometown.

Florence Warner served as the lead female vocalist for numerous renditions, but local artists were also used by markets, such as KUTV-TV in Utah, which aired a recording by The Osmonds.

Works for ABC and other US Networks

In the early and middle 1980s, he continued to write music for the American Broadcasting Company, creating songs for commercials like “You’ll Love It on ABC” (which was based on Randy Newman’s song, I Love L.A.), “We’re With You on ABC,” “Now is the Time, ABC is the Place,” and “Come On Along with ABC”). The Phil Donahue Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS This Morning, WABC-TV, and ABC’s Good Morning America (in 1989) were among the other ABC Eyewitness News programs for which he wrote music.

Works For International Networks

In 1993, Gari wrote the “Sky Symphony” theme for BSkyB in Europe. In 1995, he created the picture piece “It’s On Sky” (also known as “No Going Back”). The 1990s Sky branding permeated all of the Sky channels, including Sky One, Sky Movies, Sky Soap, and the now-defunct Sky Movies Gold. From 1989 (when they introduced their four-channel Astra lineup), through September 1993, and into 1995 (for the main news bulletins on Sky News alone), Sky News utilized “The Big News Package” as their theme song.

He also wrote the “News Line” theme for RTL in Germany in the early 1990s. Maryland Public Television later used it, while TV Patrol on ABS-CBN in the Philippines used it for its primetime newscast. The soundtrack of Gari has also been used by MBC 1, Pro TV, Markza, MTV (Lebanon), and Channel 7 (Thailand).

Gari Communications was purchased by Warner Music Group’s Warner/Chappell Production Music division on January 12, 2015.

Singles

  • Lil’ Girl (October 1959)
  • Orange-U-Tang Tango (July 1960)
  • Utopia (November 1960)
  • Be My Girl (March 1961)
  • Lullaby of Love (April 1961)
  • Princess (June 1961)
  • There’s Lots More Where This Came From (March 1962)
  • She Make Me Wanna Dance (December 1962)
  • Love That’s Where It Is (January 1968)

Most Well-known Songs

1. “Hello, Hello” – The song, which peaked at #24 on the Billboard Top 100 chart in 1967, was Gari’s biggest solo hit. The song is an uplifting pop song with playful lyrics and Gari’s trademark bouncy melody.

2. “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” – A song Gari composed for Stevie Wonder peaked at number three on the Billboard Top 100 in 1966. The song is well-known for its upbeat lyrics that laud the power of optimism and self-assurance as well as its funky rhythm.

3. “Lullaby” – A ballad by Gari that was made available as a song and peaked at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 list in 1967. The song is a sweet love song that displays Gari’s range of emotions as a lyricist.

4. “An American Trilogy” – A song Gari composed for Elvis Presley that became popular with the audience and a staple of Presley’s live performances The song is a mashup of three well-known American folk songs: “Dixie,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and “All My Trials.”

Along with writing these hits, Gari also contributed to the catalogs of notable musicians including Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, and Diana Ross. He was well-known for both his talent for penning words that connected with audiences and his knack for creating memorable melodies. Gari’s music is still loved by listeners all around the world for its enduring appeal and emotional impact.

Conclusion

Frank Gari was a gifted singer and songwriter who enjoyed a prosperous career in the 1960s and 1970s. He wrote songs for prominent musicians like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley in addition to having several solo singles, such as “Hello, Hello” and “Lullaby.” The enticing melodies, positive lyrics, and emotional depth of Gari’s music were well-known, and his work as a voice actor for television ads further increased his exposure and recognition. Overall, Frank Gari’s life was that of a gifted and adaptable artist who made a significant contribution to the music business.

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