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INTERVIEW: DEANA MARTIN – April 2015

| 4 April 2015 | Reply

I love when I get the chance to circle back and speak with not only a great performer and legend, but a genuinely nice person.  Deana Martin seems to focus all of the attention on her father, her family, her husband, her friends… you get the point.  She always has such positive things to say about others that it is hard to get her to speak about herself most the time.  Here is another example of her humble approach to interviews about HER…

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Toddstar: Deana.

Deana: Yes, my dear.

Toddstar: Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule. We appreciate it like you wouldn’t believe.

Deana: Oh that’s fine, it’s a pleasure for me to be able to talk to you and talk about new things. I mean, you did such a good job the last time.

Toddstar: I try. Yeah, I can’t wait to speak about new things, but let’s talk about something you did not long ago. A big tour of Australia. How was that?

Deana: Oh my gosh, it was not to be believed. It was my first tour of Australia and I tell you, the audiences were amazing. First of all, of course, in Australia, all over the world, Dean Martin is huge there. Going in, people are going, “Oh my gosh they were so excited about having my there. I tell you they got all of my humor. They loved all songs. I got them to get up and sing backup with me for “Memories are Made of This” and I went out in the audience and had them sing “That’s Amore” with me. That was spectacular but all of my songs, they loved that. They loved the different the different songs that I sang. I tell you, they are a rowdy bunch Australians. They made me laugh but they were just great. The country is so beautiful. It was really, really hard work, uh, because there were a lot of shows in one month. The whole thing for me is, it’s … When you go to one place and you do shows for a week or a month, that’s one thing. This is setting it up every day; right so in a new venue. It’s a lot of hard work and it takes a lot of people to do it. It’s so rewarding. When you’re up there on the stage and everything is just right, there’s nothing better than that.

Toddstar: It’s funny you mention that Dean Martin’s huge there. You mean there are places where Dean’s not huge?

Deana: No. That’s, that’s funny. No. There are not. There are not. But, you’re just asked… It’s amazing. It’s amazing wherever I go. Of course Dean Martin is huge everywhere. There was just something about… It’s the personality of these Aussies that’s so fun I mean they’re rough and tumble and they dressed beautifully to come to the shows. So it was, you know… They’re surfing all day and then they’re coming to shows at night and it was just… it was different for me. It was special. Of course, meeting all new people is fun. Especially people who love the humor, have a good sense of humor about themselves. That was great. Dean Martin’s huge everywhere.

Toddstar: I’d agree with that. You speak of new things. I’m hoping that one of those new things you’re going to talk about would be a follow up to Destination Moon.

Deana: Yes. We are working on it right now, and, in fact, Charlie Calello is writing a few more charts for me. We’re just figuring out arrangements. Now one and in fact, I’ll be doing it and I can’t wait to do this, it’s of course it’s Big Band Swing and we found… My godfather was Jimmy McHugh and he’s written fabulous songs like “I Won’t Dance” and “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love Baby.”  But he also wrote “Diga Diga Doo” with Dorothy Fields and there is a great version of it by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.  It is so hot, and it swings. What I’m going to do is, I’m having a new arrangement made or pretty similar to that. I have a show on let me see, the twenty-ninth, thirtieth and thirty-first of … When is it? I’m trying to think. When is it? Oh, in Las Vegas May 29, 30 and 31 and it’s called Deana Martin’s Big Band Swing. What we’re going to do is we’re going to open up with that song which is so hot. The way that Scotty with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy really wrote some fabulous arrangements. That will start off the whole show and I’ll be doing a few different songs here. New songs that hopefully are going into the album. Moving in all different directions. I’ll be doing “Spooky” and “Mr. Sandman.” There was a great rendition that Bette Midler did. Really cute. Taking things from lots of different places but having my own arranger and putting it into the way I do things. I’m very excited about and doing “Summer Wind.” We’re having that written right now and … Because it is Frank Sinatra’s. It would be his one-hundredth birthday this year on December twelfth. I will be doing quite a few Uncle Frank songs and shows. I have quite a few of those coming up. I’ll be up in Illinois and singing Dean and Frank. Of course Sammy and Bobby Darin. I’m also working on “Georgia,” which is one of my favorite, all-time favorite songs. Yeah, we have a new album coming out and it’s going to be fabulous. Just like Destination Moon.

Toddstar: I’m listening to it now and I constantly listen to it but it’s funny… as an anecdote, I ran the Detroit half-marathon last year and while training, my training partner would sometimes hear my music and she’d said, “What is this?” She couldn’t believe I was doing marathon training listening to Destination Moon.

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Deana: How’d you do in the marathon?

Toddstar: I finished. That’s all I was hoping for.

Deana: You finished? That’s good. I’m good for maybe a 5k.

Toddstar: We did the half. But it was a lot more than I thought it was so.

Deana: It’s hard, isn’t it? I mean that’s grueling. It’s hard on the body.

Toddstar: It is. When you’re old like me, that gets hard.

Deana: Old like you? You don’t sound very old. Old is good. It beats the alternative, right?

Toddstar: That’s it. Okay, let’s move on to some other projects that were being in and about and in progress then. How about the movie based on your book? Any movement on that?

Deana: There is a little bit of progress which is, which is nice. It’s just that everybody is so darn busy right now and Joe Mantegna he’s of course, directing it. He bought the… When the book first came out… Oh, another little exciting thing. When the first book, when the book first came out he grabbed it up and he called me, he said, “Dean, I want to make the movie.” I said, “Joe, it’s not a movie, it’s a book yet.” He said, “No, no. It’s going to be a movie. We’re going to make the movie.” It progressed from there and of course Bonnie Hunt said she wanted to write the screenplay. She has been so busy. Then Joe was picked up for another, I guess the series is picked up for another thirteen shows or something. Criminal Minds. Jennifer Love Hewitt joined and Jennifer is going to play me in the movie. Everybody is so busy. I am still of course Todd, looking to cast Dean Martin. That’s our biggest drawback right now. Can’t figure out who could be Dean. I know I asked you this before if you had any ideas. Nothing is just screaming at me that that’s going to be the, that would be the one. I’m really not sure. We are actively working on it and you know what? I’m happy to take my time because we’ve all been so crazy busy but I guess in the right time it will happen and things come to me and we’ll see.

Toddstar: Well it is, I mean, this project, you need to take your time on it. It’s so personal to you yet you need it perfect to perfectly convey the person your father really was.

Deana: That’s exactly right because a lot of people, they misconstrue things. Is that the word? Some people read things out of context and then they don’t understand something and I want to make sure that everybody, when they see the movie, they understand what an unbelievable human being he was. What an incredible talent and what life is. Here he was, he was Dean Martin. He was born Dino Crocetti in Steubenville, Ohio, June 17, 1917 and he became probably the biggest star ever. One of the biggest stars ever in the world. Just this little boy from Steubenville, Ohio who had a dream and he made it come true .In his life he did amazing things and how he kept himself private and with a great sense of humor and kind and down to earth. He’s amazing to me. It has to be portrayed exactly the way he was and that’s what’s taking a long time. It’s got to all be just right.

Toddstar: Oh definitely. You talk about being private and it was a different time back then. Now you got the whole social media thing, you got everything else. Even back then, you still had paparazzi, you still had everybody wanting a piece of you. How do you feel your father was so successful in being able to keep the home life so private?

Deana: I think the, well, you know what? He was respected. Also, the media, they weren’t as aggressive as coo-coo as they are since lack of another word. Everybody’s gone insane now. Especially with the entire internet and all of that that’s going and magazines paying thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to get a photograph of someone in a compromising position. That’s a feeding frenzy now and it wasn’t like that before. It was a… people had consciences back then I think and they were respectful of your privacy. My dad was just a simple guy. He would get up, he’d go to work and if he wasn’t working that day he’d get up and he’d go play golf. Then he’d play cards with his, with his pallies at Bel Air or wherever, or at the Riviera and the come home. Have dinner with his family and then study his lines or watch a movie with us and that’s who he was. He wasn’t the guy going out to all the parties and all of that. That can get you in trouble anyways. He was just a different kind of a guy. He really and truly was. I know I’ve said this before but when you look at him he has a look in his eye that he knows something that we don’t know. It’s like he’s got that whole take on life that he knows how to do it. He just went through life easy, natural, calm, smooth, and amazing to me.

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Toddstar: You’re right, we did talk about that before and it just goes back to, he was more than just the King of Cool when it came to music. He was the King of Cool period. He understood it. He had it. He really did.

Deana: Yeah, that’s right. You see him, you know, when I watch him on the Dean Martin show, or in a movie. Especially when I’m thinking about, he was amazing in Some Came Running and Rio Bravo, or The Sons of Katie Elder and different, a western, he would love a western anyways. He used to come home at night and just watch Tom Mix westerns. I mean he loved westerns. He loved John Wayne, he loved all of those guys and he was riding horses from the time he was a very young boy. In Steubenville they all had horses, so he was a cowboy. He loved country music, you know. But he was a different kind of guy.

Toddstar: I bet he was. Let’s shift the attention here a little bit, Deana. Let’s talk about you. I mean, you’ve done so many things in your career and in your life. You talk about westerns, let’s talk about Young Billy Young. Somebody else made appearances in westerns too.

Deana: That is… You know what? That just reminded me, I just saw a photograph, and I think I put it up on Facebook not long ago. It was four of us on a horse when we did Young Billy Young. I think it’s me and then Bobby Walker Jr., Chris Mitchum and David Carradine. A lot of the comments on my Facebook page were, “Oh the poor horse.” I went, “I only weighed ninety-five pounds.” It wasn’t, wasn’t that bad. But, just remembering making that movie in… gosh, where were we? Old, Old Tucson and it was hot but there I am with Angie Dickinson and Robert Mitchum and David Carradine and John Carradine and the little Mitchums. It was such a nice loving experience because Robert Mitchum would sit around with everybody and we’d be talking. Because there’s a lot of time in between takes. You do a take, and they have to set up the camera for a whole other take but, everyone just sat around, we had a great time. That was my first movie and it was scary. I felt comfortable and everybody was just so great with me. Gosh, that’s the first time I had blonde hair. Yeah, that’s right. Young Billy Young. But to be able to work with actors of that caliber, it was just great.

Toddstar: Sure. You also released some music back then and I believe it’s you. I can’t find any confirmation but I found a track and it sounds like you. “When He Remembers Me?”

Deana: Oh yeah. That was “When He Remembers Me” and that was the flip side of “Girl of the Month Club.” We recorded that and in fact, I went to Nashville and did a TV series, Nashville US, Music City USA. Now Lee Hazlewood is the one who produced that. Do you know that my band was The Wrecking Crew? The Wrecking Crew, they were on… I can’t tell you. There’s a new documentary out about them right now, just came out last week. Glen Campbell was my guitar player.

Toddstar: Wow.

Deana: Hal Blaine on drums. It was The Wrecking Crew and they have backed up so many … If you just looked up The Wrecking Crew you’ll go, “Oh my God.” Those were the studio musicians where all of the hit records that were happening there. But “Girl of the Month Club” and “When He Remembers Me,” those were a couple of the songs that I did with Lee Hazlewood and I did a lot more with him. He was recording my dad. He’s the one who wrote “Houston.” He was amazing. He died a few years ago but he was just, he was a wonderful producer. He’s the one who did “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.” He produced Nancy and also my brother and his rock and roll group. That was Dino, Desi and Billy. They had their hits out there “I’m A Fool.” It was quite a musical time. I was right in the midst of all of that in the sixties and the seventies and now… What year is it now? 2015. My gosh.

Toddstar: I find it amazing, in the times that I’ve spoken with you, you are so humble. You turn every question from being about you to being about someone else whether it be your father or your brother or… I find it amazing with your whole career and just your whole catalog, that you always want to talk about other people.

Deana: Well, yeah. That’s so sweet of you to say, but you know what? It’s all teamwork, you know? We’re all in this together. You’re doing your bit. That’s what you’re doing. You’re getting the word about this music out there for people and interviewing. I’ve got the arrangers, I’ve got the writers, I’ve got the people that I try to emulate. They’re people that I grew up with; people that I love to listen to their music and find out about new musicians. It all comes together and it does take it village. It’s not just me, when I’m up there, I may be the one right out with the microphone singing in front of everybody, but it’s the whole orchestra. It’s the person who wrote the song, it’s the people who are playing the song, the arranger, the sound guy who’s out there, front of house, the one doing the monitors, the one doing the spots. There’s so much. My poor husband John, who’s the director, the producer, puts the whole thing together, we pick out the musicians and it’s a whole life. It’s a whole village that we need to be able to put this on. All the people who are playing the music, people who are buying the tickets, coming to the shows, buying the albums, and it’s, it’s all connected. It’s not just me, it’s everybody that makes this whole music business and life and good times and memories for everybody.

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Toddstar: That’s good to see in a business where so much of it is, “Me, me, me.”

Deana: That’s true. I mean, there are a lot of, “Me, me, me,” people out there but and a lot of them are doing very well.

Toddstar: Any chance in you bringing up some of that old music and re-releasing that?

Deana: Yeah, in fact, that’s funny that you mentioned it because I have … When I’m doing these shows and people come up to me after the show, they go, ‘You know what? How come didn’t do “Girl of the Month Club” and “When He Remembers Me” or, or “Baby I See You?”’ I’m going, “Well, I don’t know, you know? I mean, it was a long time ago.” They say, “Well you know, re, re-release it or do a remix because I started in country music. “Girl of the Month Club” is a cute song and I’ve got girls yelling up from the … in the audience saying, ‘Play “Girl of the Month Club!”’ My husband and I were thinking, “Okay, well, you know what? Maybe we should do and updated “Girl of the Month Club” and “When He Remembers Me,” and put it into the show.” We’re actually working on that too. I’m glad you reminded me. I got to make a note. We’ve got so much going on and so many shows that are coming up and we’re doing them in all different venues. Let’s see. Where am I going? Oh, I’m going to Cape May this weekend. I’ll be down in Cape May with my quintet. Beautiful place down there. Then, it’s off to San Diego where I’ll be with the Symphony Orchestra, so we’ll have ninety-nine musicians. I’ll go from six to ninety-nine, with all the strings and oboes and flutes. Then the week after that it’ll be, maybe either back to the quintet or the big band in Las Vegas. It’s always challenging. I’m always learning new things. It’s mixing it up. Figuring out what songs to do and it’s a busy life. Thank God I have John. We could not do that without him. Uh-oh. Something happened to my connection. I’m just tired thinking of it but I’m glad that you reminded me of the “Girl of the Month Club,” “When He Remembers Me” and that was on Reprise Records. We’ll put that back in. I think people will get a big kick out of it. It’s always nice to change things up and do something new and different or old and different. Yeah, hopefully there’s still a very long career out there for me and continue to do it and grow and learn and make people happy. That’s what we do.

Toddstar: I’m sure you will. I’m sure you will. We still need to get you back up here in Detroit.

Deana: I know John was talking about that and I don’t know who he was talking to but it was just the other day. Poor, poor John. He’s talking to all these different venues. I really don’t know how we made it through Australia. Because that was, that was tough. As they say, a big, big country and traveling every day and different day, packing and unpacking. Dealing with musicians and all the people all over the place.

Toddstar: Sure.

Deana: He deserved a martini at night. (laughs)

Toddstar: I know you’re so busy Deana, so I’ve got one more for you.

Deana: Okay.

Toddstar: I just want you to stop back and think about everything you’ve done in your career and everything you’ve done in your life. If there were a couple of things that you could think of that you want to be remembered for and that you’re most proud of in your life, what would those things be?

Deana: Hmm. Most proud of? Well, probably that I have a fabulous husband, a son, and four grandchildren that are just gorgeous, that’s wonderful. I mean, that could be, that’s plenty enough. I would think, I would have loved, first of all, I would have loved for some of the plays that I have been in. Some of the work on stage that had never been filmed. I wish that there was something with a shot in the dark or some of the plays that I did or Star Spangled Girl. Because I would have liked for people to be able to have seen that, that’s a shame. But that’s theater; you don’t have it on film or tape. I want them to remember my music, and my ability when I get up to sing. I think that that’s something that is, or my ability to entertain people. That’s what I want people to remember. The voice, the humor and just coming to a great show. That’s what I’d like to be remembered for.

Toddstar: Anybody who’s, who’s heard you or seen you that definitely leaves an indelible mark.

Deana: Aw. Thank you so much.

Toddstar: It’s always fun to talk to people, but it’s even better when it’s more like a friendship. Just listening to your music over and over for years now, Deana, and speaking to you on the occasions we’ve had the opportunity I definitely put you in that column. I want to thank you for being real.

Deana: Oh, thank you so much. Thank you for what you do and keep doing it and then we’ll circle back before Christmas so we can talk about some Christmas shows and you can highlight my beautiful duet with Andy Williams or “White Christmas.” All right Todd, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you and you always have interesting questions and I thank you very much for your work.

Toddstar: Oh, thank you Deana. Thank you so much for your time.

Deana: All right. Thank you. Bye, bye.

 

DEANA MARTIN LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

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Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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