About Tony Alamo
Best known for his association with the late sweet band leader Sammy Kaye (b. Mar. 31, 1910, d. Jun. 2, 1987) in the '40s and '50s, the Tony Alamo profiled in this bio should not be confused with the infamous quasi-evangelist/cult leader Tony Alamo (whose bizarre antics have ranged from trying to bring his late wife Susan Lipowitz Alamo back from the dead to publishing a variety of way-out conspiracy theories involving the Catholic Church). The confusion comes into play because the cult leader (who went to prison for tax evasion in the '90s) is also a singer and worked in the music industry as a manager/record promoter in the '50s and early '60s -- that is, before he gave up secular music altogether and co-founded the Alamo Christian Foundation with Susan Lipowitz Alamo (who was born Edith Opal Horn on April 25, 1925, and died of cancer in 1982) in the late '60s.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that the cult leader has described himself as a former "crooner" and "big band singer" in some of his literature; however, cult leader Alamo is younger than Kaye's Alamo. The cult leader was born Bernie Lazar Hoffman in Joplin, MO, on September 20, 1934; he adopted the name Tony Alamo in the '50s in the hope of cashing in on the popularity of Italian-American singers. The Alamo profiled in this bio was singing with Kaye's sweet band as early as 1940, when the cult leader was only five or six years old. Some people have assumed that Kaye's Alamo and the cult leader are the same person, but they're definitely two different people.
Although jazz-influenced, Kaye's Alamo was not a jazz singer per se. Rather, he was a Bing Crosby-influenced pop crooner along the lines of Frank Sinatra, Vic Damone, Art Lund, Dean Martin, and Perry Como. In contrast to the jazz-oriented hot bands of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Count Basie, and Harry James, Kaye's sweet band was, for the most part, a pop orchestra with jazz overtones -- and singer Alamo, who didn't improvise, was perfect for Kaye (who was often compared to the equally famous Guy Lombardo). Kaye featured Alamo extensively in the '40s and '50s, and some of his better-known performances with the Kaye orchestra included "Get Out Those Old Records," "The Four Winds and the Seven Seas," "Wanderin'," "The Object of My Affections," "Say It Isn't So," "Longing for You," and the 1950 smash "Harbor Lights."
Kaye (who recorded for Decca and Columbia) often featured Alamo without any other vocalists, although he sometimes used him in male/female vocal duets (including Alamo's encounter with singer Judy Johnson on the sentimental "Honey"). Alamo doesn't have any CDs available under his own name; however, examples of his work can easily be found on various Kaye collections, including 1998's Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye: 21 of His Greatest Hits on Collectors' Choice Music, 2001's The Sammy Kaye Collection on Collectables, and 2001's Music, Romancing and Dancing on the British ASV label. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi