“Sweet, sweet memories you gave-a me … You can’t beat the memories you gave-a me …” sang legendary entertainer Dean Martin in his first No. 1 hit.
And daughter Deana Martin has lots of sweet, sweet memories of her dad. In fact, she was in the studio at Capitol Records back in 1956 when her father recorded “Memories Are Made of This.” She was 8 years old.
It’s one of many of her dad’s memorable songs Deana Martin plans to perform for the Greater Baton Rouge American Italian Association’s Columbus Day Festa’s “An Evening in Concert.”
“It’s a fun show,” says Martin via phone from her home in Beverly Hills. “I sing updated songs my dad sang. They are great songs and, of course, there are going to be quite a few Italian songs.”
The list also includes Dean Martin’s other No. 1 hit, 1964’s “Everybody Loves Somebody”; “You’re Nobody ’til Somebody Loves You”; “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?”; “Sway”; and “That’s Amoré.”
“I also do a duet with my dad, ‘True Love,’” says Martin. “My husband John (Griffeth) found the original Nelson Riddle arrangement and we took it to Capitol to record. I’m there holding dad’s chart with ‘Dean’ written in the top corner; I’m using dad’s microphone; I hear dad’s voice and I’m just speechless. In the booth for the playback I just cried at the way our voices blended.”
She’s not alone. Martin’s typically innundated by concert-goers who come up to her after the show and confess they too were brought to tears by the “True Love” performance.
Interspersed throughout the concert are stories from Martin’s life as Dean Martin’s daughter. To the world Dean Martin and his buddies were known as the Rat Pack but to his daughter they were known as “Uncle Frank” Sinatra and “Uncle Sammy” Davis Jr. And along with musical legends like Bobby Darrin, Rosemary Clooney and Peggy Lee, they helped develop Martin’s passion for the entertainment world.
“It’s just in my DNA,” says Martin, who still has a small bottle of her dad’s cologne, Woodhue by Fabergé.
“He always smelled good. He’s with me every day and I feel his presence when I rehearse. Dad never rehearsed. He’d go into the studio on Sunday after playing golf and tape. He taught me well; I learned a lot from him. What you saw is what you got. That’s how he was.”
More of these intimate stories are found in Martin’s 2004 New York Times best-seller, “Memories Are Made of This: Dean Martin Through His Daughter’s Eyes.” The book is an honest look at Dean Martin and his family, and gives insight into the varied sides of the entertainer she knew as dad. Deana Martin shares stories about his friends in the Rat Pack that have never been told before from the perspective of a young girl growing up around them. She also talks about how her father handled his busy career, public performances and his personal role as husband and father. The book is being made into a movie starring Joe Mantegna and Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Meanwhile, Martin continues to perform and share not just the great American songs of her father and his contemporaries and the memories they stir for the audiences that come to hear her, but to introduce Dean Martin to a whole new generation.
“I’m shocked by the young people who come to the show and say they’ve loved my father all their lives,” says Martin. “I always tell them, ‘You were brought up right!’”