It's The Norm
December 20-26, 2001 ARCHIVES
"It's The Norm" - Recent Entertainment Events in Las Vegas

Tony Orlando

by Norm Johnson
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One of my friends, a guy who I first met when he made his Las Vegas debut following the release of his first mega hit, "Knock Three Times" in 1971, will be making his Orleans Showroom debut tonight. Tony Orlando is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, and odds are you have met him and perhaps even waited in a grocery store line with him. See, his mom lives right here in our little ol' town.

I have watched him progress over the years and each year he continues to amaze me with his energy and of course fantastic range of voice. Just exactly how much energy does he exert on stage? I would say he has more than a string of diesel locomotives going over the "Great Divide." And folks, that is lot of energy. I must admit, however, it has been quite sometime since I watched him perform live, but from what I have been told and read the energy and voice is still there!

Over the years you might say Tony Orlando was at the right place at the right time with the right talent. First off he was born and raised in New York City. At age 16 he began a recording career that has lasted over 40 years and created some of the most memorable recordings ever. Tony was also one of the first recording artists to sign with Epic Records and two of his early hits were "Halfway to Paradise" and "Bless You."

One of the most endearing and enduring stars Tony has done it all. As a young recording performer he switched gears midstream and became a non-performing vice-president for CBS Records, heading their April-Blackwood music label. His bosses at CBS, well aware of his talents, coaxed him into a demo recording of a song titled "Candida." Well, folks, we know the rest. It was released under the name of the record promotions directors daughter, Dawn. And now you have the rest of the story!

"I truly believe that there is a secret little rule somewhere in the showbiz bible that dictates that for every big break you get, you back into it without knowing it at the time," Orland said. "And I have backed into quite a few over my career."

Teaming with his friends Hank Meddress and Dave Appel (Candida) at Bell Records, the team released "Knock Three Times" in 1971, which became the top song of the year selling over six million records. He gave up his career as an executive and devoted the rest of his life to a career as an entertainer. In 1973 Tony recorded, in this writers opinion, another of those songs that becomes a national anthem at certain times, "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree." Today it is not only Tony’s theme song, but also an anthem for various times when our national needs a feel good song.

A string of hits have followed him over the years. These include such memorable songs as "Sweet Gypsy Rose," "Cupid," and "Morning Beautiful" to name a couple. Of course his highly successful CBS weekly variety show, which was the first multi-ethnic variety show on TV, brought him and Dawn even more fame. Since 1993 Tony Orlando, his wife Francine and their daughter Jenny Rose a son, Jon, have called Branson, Missouri home where he performs steadily.

His show at the Orleans is not his usual fare in that it has a segment dedicated to "Santa and Me," which has become a classic in Branson since he first performed it in 1993. Tony discovered Dave Thompson, a strapping man of 65 while he was shopping at a Wall Mart in Branson. "He was and has remained my Santa ever since." Tony immediately inserted him in his Christmas show that year and ever since.

So, gang, take it from this writer the Tony Orlando Show this week at The Orleans will be a very special treat for everyone from age five to 100. There will be something for everyone. Showtimes will be 7 pm., with advance ticket purchase suggested. That's it for this week and I hope your Christmas was a Jolly Good One!

Merry Christmas!

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