Monday, 8 September 2014

LANA BITTENCOURT's 'Little darlin'

When one looks up Lana Bittencourt's name at Revista do Radio one notes it starts popping up late 1953. Lana records her first 78 rpm single for Todamérica in 1954 and is signed by Radio Tupi. Soon she switches to Columbia Records which releases a 10" LP with 'Juca' and other excellent songs.

Then in late 1957, everything changes in Lana Bittencourt's life when she coversw Maurice William's 'Little darlin'' that goes straight to #1 in the nation and stays in the top for a couple of months.

Maurice William wrote and sang the original 'Little darlin' as the leader of The Gladiolas. The disc was relesead by Nashville's Excello Records in January 1957, peaking  at #11 on the R&B charts in April 1957.

Canadian white group The Diamonds covered 'Little darlin' a few weeks after the original release and reached #2 on the Billboard charts in April 1957, staying there for an amazing 8 weeks. The Diamonds' record is generally considered a superior version. Lana's recording was a cover of The Diamond's cover and caught everyone unawares at Columbia when it became such a hit. 'Little darlin' had been part of an album

Lana Bittencourt hit #1 again in July 1958 with 'With all my heart' (see text below commenting Lana's discography).

Lana's 1st photo at Revista do Radio in 1954 among other new faces like Claudia Moreno & Rogeria.
Lana's 1st marriage lasted only June & July 1952. rumours linked Lana romantically to Helio Paiva.
Alda Perdigão would marry Renato; Idalina de Oliveira had comedian Badaró on her sights; Lana was involved with Braga Jr. - Lana does a 'bahiana'.
'Little darlin' was dubbed as a rumba in the label, but it was really a calypso.
'Little darlin' goes up to #1 in December 1957 - Revista do Radio 14 December 1957.
by early 1958 rock was really rocking Brazilian charts; Lana's 'Little darlin' was still #1, Pat Boone was #3 in Rio with 'Bernardine'; Maureen Cannon was #3 in S.Paulo with 'Oh Johnny'; 'With all my heart' was Lana's 2nd Number One having reached the top in June 1958; note that 'Diana' with Paul Anka is #2 in Rio and The Playings's 'Love me forever' is #5; Tony Campello's 1st record 'Forgive me' is #5 in S.Paulo. Rock had arrived in mid 1958. 'With all my heart' was a cover of a Dalida's 1957 French hit called 'Le gondolier'. Actually Lana's recording is a cover of an American version written by Bob Marcucci and recorded by Jodie Sands. 
Lana was conservative politically having been an enthusiast of Janio Quadros and UDN, the right-wing party that ended up siding with the 1964 putsch that destroyed democracy in Brazil.
Othon Russo, Carlinhos, Lana & Lamour, Columbia Records man in Recife-PE.

Lana Bittencourt discography 1954 - 1959


Samba da noite (Wilton Franco-Luiz Fernand)  -  May 1954
Emoção (Emmanuel Gitahy-Wilson Preiera)

Regeneração (Cesar Siqueira)   -  August 1954 
Nasci p'ra você (Peterpan)

Rouxinol (Luiz Antonio)  -  December 1954
Babau (Caribé da Rocha)

Columbia Records 

Juca (Haroldo Barbosa)  -  June 1955
Johnny Guitar (Victor Young; v.: Julio Nagib)

Malagueña (Ernesto Lecuona; v.: Julio Nagib)  -  August 1955
Pobre menino rico (Vargas Jr.-Oscar Bellandi)

Andalucia (Ernesto Lecuona; v.: Julio Nagib)  -  August 1955
Porquê é (Paulo Menezes-Milton Legey)

Eu chorei (Brasinha-Milton Legey-Paulo Menezes)  -  November 1955
Gato preto (Newton Santos-Aristides Filho-Alvaro Matos)

Vai (Go) - Alex Alstone-Redd Evans; v.: Nazareno de Brito - 1956
Quem se humilha (Ricardo Galeno)

Desistência (Ivo Marins-Rutinaldo Silva)
Ataliba e seu bombardão (Haroldo Barbosa) - 1956

Dolores (Hubert Giraud; v.: Edson Borges)  -  October 1956
Meu caso (Nazareno de Brito-Betinho)

Meu benzinho (My little one) - Howe-Gussin; v.: Cauby de Brito  -  1956
Prece (Vadico-Marino Pinto)

Zezé (Humberto Teixeira-Caribé da Rocha)  -  1957
Tô só (Humberto Teixeira-Caribé da Rocha)

Ninguém vem me dizer (It's not for me to say) - R.Allen-A.Stillman; v.: Edson Borges - 1957
Esquecimento (Fernando Cesar-Nazareno de Brito)

Se alguém telefonar (Jair Amorim-Alcyr Pires Vermelho)  -  1957
Haja o que houver (Fernando Cesar)

Little darlin' (Maurice Williams)  -  October 1957
Feliz Natal (Klecius Caldas-Armando Cavalcanti)

Alone (Why must I be alone?) - Selma Craft-Morton Craft - November 1957
Se todos fossem iguais a você (Antonio Carlos Jobim-Vinicius de Moraes)

Alone (Why must I be alone?) - Selma Craft-Morton Craft - December 1957
Feliz Natal (Klecius Caldas-Armando Cavalcanti)

Lana Bittencourt - 10" LP -  December 1957

1. Esquecimento (Nazareno de Brito-Fernando César)
2. Ave Maria (Jaime Redondo-Vicente Paiva)
3. Ninguém vem me dizer (It's not for me to say) (A. Stillman-R. Allen: v.: Edson Borges)
4. Quero ir à Bahia (Oscar Bellandi-Elias Ramos)

1. Se todos fossem iguais a você (Tom Jobim-Vinicius de Moraes)
2. A vontade de morrer voltou toda (Ricardo Galeno)
3. Rua da minha cidade (Irany de Oliveira-Bruno Marnet)
4. Haja o que houver (Fernando Cesar)

With all my heart (Le gondolier) - Peter De Angelis-Bob Marcucci  -  1958
Quero ir à Bahia (Elias Ramos-Oscar Bellandi)

Conselho (Denis Brean-Oswaldo Guilherme) - 1958
Summertime (George Gershwin-DuBose Heyward)

Além (Sidney Morais-Edson Borges)
Graças a Deus (Fernando Cesar)

Lana in MusicalScope - 12" LP - 1958

1. Além (Edson Borges-Sidney Morais)
2. With all my heart (Le gondolier) (Peter De Angelis-Bob Marcucci)
3. Ciúme (Renato de Oliveira-Fernando Cesar)
4. La vie en samba (Denis Brean-Blota Júnior)
5. Oho-aha (Feliz-Gieltz-Pinchi)
6. Alone (Why must I be alone?) (Selma Craft-Morton Craft)

1. Se alguém telefonar (Jair Amorim-Alcyr Pires Vermelho)
2. Summertime (George Gershwin-DuBose Heyward)
3. Graças a Deus (Fernando Cesar)
4. Himne à l'amour (Edith Piaf-Marguerite Monnot)
5. Conselho (Denis Brean-Oswaldo Guilherme)
6. Little darlin' (Maurice Williams)

Just young (Lya S.Roberts) - 1959
Amor sem repetição (Lyrio Panicalli-Ester Delamare)

Ave Maria (Jaime Redondo-Vicente Paiva) - 1959
The only way to love (Jimmy Krondes-Paul Evans)

Escala de cores (Inara Simões de Iraja) - 1959
Quero-te assim (Tito Madi)

A noite é nossa (Possess me) -  I.J.Roth-Joe Lubin; v.: Fernando Cesar  -  1959
O milagre da volta (Fernando Cesar-Armando Cavalcanti)

When one looks at Lana Bittencourt's early discography it's easy to infer that Columbia wanted her to become a sort of a Brazilian version of Caterina Valente. You see, Lana had just dropped out of a Germanic languages course she had taken at Faculdade de Filosofia in Rio de Janeiro. She obviously had a talent for foreign languages (like Caterina). Columbia actually makes Lana record 'Malagueña' and 'Andalucia' (The breeze and I) in 1955, which had been European hits for Miss Valente.

Lana kept recording Brazilian tunes for 2 years but she was going nowhere. That was until late 1957 when she hits the jackpot with 'Little darlin' which went straight to #1 all over Brazil. Columbia rushed a follow-up with 'Alone' (Why must I be alone?) a cover of The Shepherd Sisters' 45 rpm that reached #18 at the Billboard charts in November 1957. Both Lana 78 rpm singles were meant for the Christmas time market. But 'Little darlin' was such a smash hit that it went over and kept on playing through the first half of 1958.

After Carnaval's festivities, Columbia releases 'With all my heart' which becomes Lana's 2nd #1 by June 1958.

1958 turned out to be Lana Bittencourt's best year ever. We don't know why the hits stopped coming but Lana's days as queen of the charts was almost over. EMI's Odeon having witnessed such a success was desperately looking for their rock queen, and they found her in Celly Campello in late 1958.

After 1959 Carnaval, Odeon had it all up its sleeve: they released 'Stupid cupid', a Neil Sedaka & Howard Greenfield tune translated by Fred Jorge as 'Estupido cupido' which took the country by storm. Brazilians had finally got into the groove. Brazilians found how to rock'n'roll in their own language, they didn't need to record in English anymore. Celly Campello set them free.

Lana Bittencourt had been the bridge that led to the advent of Celly Campello. Well, that's a way of seeing things. But it makes a lot of sense. Lana Bittencourt who was born in 5 February 1932, was 26 years old in 1958. Celly Campello was only 16. Rock had come of age!

Maurice Williams was the man who penned 'Little darlin'
Jodie Sands recorded the original 'With all my heart' for Chancellor.
Dalida's recording of 'Gondolier' (With all my heart) 

Thanks everyone for having visited my Brazilian Rock page. It's been 32,000 visits as of 8 September 2014.

32000 pageviews - 52 posts, last published on 08-Sep-2014

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