EXPIRED: 12/10/09 – Kenny Dino, 67, was born in Astoria, Queens and by all accounts really should have been Art Garfunkel.
I think he scared Paul Simon with his talent.
Dino’s family moved to the burbs in 1955, specifically Hicksville, Long Island, where he worked on his grandfather’s farm (seriously, there used to be farms in Hicksville back then).
Bored to hell, he ran away and joined the U.S. Navy in ’57. While stationed in Iceland he entered a talent show by imitating Elvis Presley. He didn’t win but he performed the song a bunch of times and got the bug. He continued to sing while stationed in Maine, Florida, and Texas. Forming a band with five Mexican-American vocalists, Dino spent three years touring throughout the South, sometimes sharing the bill with Doug Sahm from Sam the Sham and the Pharohs.
He moved to NYC and signed with (and was quickly dropped from) Dot Records, and in 1960 signed to Columbia who offered him the opportunity to pair up with Paul Simon, who was then using the name James Landis. In the biggest mistake of a lifetime, Dino turned it down.
An intended album was not released and although he recorded several demos for Elvis Presley, including “Good Luck Charm,” Columbia was unsure whether to market him as an Elvis-like rocker or a Pat Boone-esque balladeer and forced him to turn down an opportunity to record “Suspicious Minds.” The song became a chart-topping hit for Terry Stafford 13 months later.
Although he recorded his only hit, “Your Ma Said You Cried in Your Sleep Last Night,” in 1961, Kenny Dino provided a major influence for Elton John and Robert Plant, who covered the song on his 1990 album, Manic Nirvana.
He fell intosomewhat obscurity doing odd jobs and messing about in the oldies circuit. The internet helped stimulate a mini Kenny Dino revival and he started recoring in the mid 2000’s on his wn label. His last recording was ironically called “Working On My Dream” released in 2007.
On December 9, 2009 Kenny Dino had finished his second music gig of the day and was driving from Melbourne, Florida on I-95 to his home in nearby Cocoa and into the early morning of Dec 10th. He pulled over to the side of the road where construction workers found him unconscious. They called the Florida Highway Patrol and paramedics, but it was too late. Kenny died from a heart attack around 1 AM, Thursday morning, December 10, 2009.
As with many celebs, his age is disputed. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.