Say It's Your Birthday: Julius LaRosa

January 2 is not a good day for rock and roll, the

birthday's we're not going to inflict upon you include Roger Miller ("Trailers

for sale or rent..."), Chick Churchill, the organist for Ten Years After, or

Kerry Minnear who played something (we're not sure what) in Gentle Giant. That

leaves us with today's rock and roll hero Julius LaRosa, born way back in 1930.

In researching the celebrated Mr. LaRosa we came across the following notation:

"Regular singer on Arthur Godfrey TV show until he was fired on the air in late

1953." Sensing a good story, we called one ATN friend, Dave Dixon. Dixon, one

of the pioneer's of underground radio on Detroit's WABX back in the '60s, is

also an authority on the early days of pop radio and television. Of course, he

knew all about the incident in question. "Arthur Godfrey had multiple shows. He

had a daily radio program, there was a Monday night TV show called Talent

Scouts, and a Wednesday night TV show called Arthur Godfrey And His

Friends. He required the performers from his daytime radio show to be on

the Friends TV show and rehearse for it. Apparently Julius LaRosa

balked. They wanted to do a Christmas special, and he refused to learn to ice

skate. He had gone for dancing lessons, but was unwilling to go for the ice

skating. Godfrey fired him on the air. He did it by introducing Julius,

chatting with him briefly, letting him sing, and then saying: 'That was Julie's

swan song on our show. Julie is leaving us now to move onto bigger and better

things, and we wish him luck.' So Julius LaRosa sang his swan song without

knowing what was happening. Later, when asked why he did it, Arthur said, '

Julius LaRosa had lost his humility.' Clearly Arthur thought he could get away

with this behavior because he had the Talent Scout program to restock

his own. So if the Chordettes were showing signs of losing their humility he

had the McGuire sisters literally waiting in the wings. The public was pretty

much enraged and sickened by Godfrey's treatment of LaRosa because it was so

blatantly mean." But the public spoke in it's own way, making LaRosa's then

current single, "Eh Cumpari," a traditional Italian song of no great

distinction into the biggest record of LaRosa's long and distinguished career.