When celebrated pop crooner Frankie Laine--whose 21-million-selling singles from the late 1940s to the middle ‘60s included “Mule Train,” “I Believe,” and “Rawhide"--moved to Point Loma in 1968, it was purportedly to retire.
He has yet to do so. In fact, he’s getting ready to record a new album in New Orleans with jazz trumpeter Al Hirt.
Laine had planned to start recording in January, but Hirt decided to get married, which has moved the sessions to March, around the time of Laine’s 78th birthday.
“Al’s getting married to some gal from Minnesota on Dec. 28, and we have to wait until he gets back from his honeymoon,” Laine said. “And I’m allowing him plenty of time to get his honeymooning over with.
“Then we’re going to choose the songs, do the backgrounds, go over the arrangements, record everything and put the vocals in.”
The album, which doesn’t yet have a title, will be recorded at a private studio owned by New Orleans band leader Ronnie Kole, a longtime friend of both Laine and Hirt.
“Ronnie is kind of tying the whole thing together,” Laine said. “I gave him the idea (for the collaboration) and he flipped and went after Al,” Laine said. “He’s got his own studio and his own record company; he’s quite an entrepreneur.”
Joining Laine and Hirt in the studio will be reed siblings Wynton and Bradford Marsalis. “We’re asking them each to do a cameo,” Laine said.
Another potential guest: Aaron Neville, the resident canary of New Orleans rhythm-and-blues group the Neville Brothers.
“He seems to be doing a lot of guest appearances these days with people like Linda Ronstadt,” Laine said, “and we’re really hoping to get him.”
Meanwhile, Laine is keeping busy. San Diego nostalgia radio station KPOP-AM (1360) has put together a pre-Christmas promotion around one of his old songs, “Old Shoes,” seeking donations of old shoes for the homeless.
Laine and KPOP morning man Don Howard have cut a series of promo spots asking listeners to bring their old shoes to any Dixieline Lumber Home Center.
“Then the people at Dixieline will take the shoes over to the St. Vincent de Paul Center so that Father Joe Carroll can disperse them to all the people who need them,” Laine said. “So far, it’s really going well.
“I just got back from San Francisco, where KFRC-AM is picking up on it, and we’re going to do the same thing up in Los Angeles, at KMPC-AM.”