THE READERS AT QUORA have been keeping me busy—once I answered a question or two intelligently and fairly, I’ve been getting requests to answer others. Answer one question, and another pops up, even if it wasn’t asked directly of me. Many questions I just pass by, but this one was right in my ballpark: “Why isn’t Connie Francis in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?”
And since I am spending time and energy there, why not bring the fruits of my labor back here, to my blogs. For those of you who are younger than, say, 40-years-old, Connie Francis was a huge star.
She recorded and issued scores of singles with many of them big hits (see below), she released at least four dozen albums—not including hits packages and live albums—and she starred in three movies.
Connie Francis may not be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but her pictures are probably still on the walls of Italian restaurants around the world!
She’s kind of like a female Bobby Darin: she could sing anything and apparently wanted to sing everything! She recorded pop, shlock, country, songs in Italian, songs in German, songs in Hebrew, and occasionally a little rock & roll.
But she’s not in any Hall of Fame, although her pictures are probably still on the walls of countless Italian restaurants around the world!
So below find my answer to the question, “Should Connie Francis be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?” (My answer is the text between the pictures.)
Connie Francis’s first album Who’s Sorry Now was released in April 1958. There’s little on it that indicates that she would be rocking and rolling on future singles, and nothing on it that would make anyone on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee take her seriously as a potential inductee. Cool cover though—she looks sharp and sassy!
Connie and the Hall of Fame
The argument against Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero—Connie Francis to her fans, who were once legion—is that she was, by inclination, a pop singer who could sing anything and occasionally dabbled in the new rock & roll music. Her two biggest rock & roll hits were Stupid Cupid (#16) and Lipstick On Your Collar (#3), both of which sounded great on the radio but they’re as much pop as they are rock.
It may be difficult for today’s younger readers to conceive, but female singers of Connie’s era were not encouraged to sing rock & roll by their record companies, their producers, or their managers (or their boyfriends or husbands). They were encouraged to sing likable pop sings and look as cute as possible while doing so. (Well, maybe that’s not all that different from female pop singers of the 21st century.)
The biggest argument for Connie Francis is that she had thirty-five Top 40 hits on Cash Box, fifteen of which reached the Top 10. This makes her one of the biggest hitmakers of all time—at least back in the day when you actually had to sell records to have hits. Here is a comparison of her career as a hitmaker compared to two artists already in the Hall of Fame:
• Fats Domino had thirty-five sides reach the Billboard Top 40. Eight of those made the Top 10 but none of them topped that chart.
• Ricky Nelson had thirty-five sides reach the Billboard Top 40. Eighteen of those made the Top 10 and two topped that chart.
• Connie Francis had thirty-five sides reach the Billboard Top 40. Sixteen of those made the Top 10 and three topped that chart.
In easy-to-read figures, the three statements above look like this:
Fats Domino: 35/8/0
Ricky Nelson: 35/18/2
Connie Francis: 35/16/3
Connie Francis outperformed Fats Domino on the pop charts and held her own with Ricky Nelson. These two male artists rank among the biggest pop stars of their era and these figures are often used to illustrate their accomplishments. Connie is their equal yet I have never heard her spoken in the reverent tones reserved for the two Hall of Famers!
Neil Sedaka wrote several hits for Connie Francis, including Stupid Cupid. Sedaka was very popular in Italy and RCA Victor released his version as a single in 1959. It included this cartoon picture sleeve. Despite writing and recording a slew of hits, Neil also gets short shrift from the Hall of Fame because, well, he’s too damn white.
The majesty of love
This is a statistic that should matter to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominators but apparently doesn’t. That she often sang her pop with more gusto and soul than what we associate with traditional white pop/easy-listening singers doesn’t seem to matter.
That she was one of the few white female singers to have significant Top 40 hits with her rock & roll records doesn’t seem to matter.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has not been particularly generous in inducting this type of artist, so I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting it to happen any time soon.
As an aside, check out her fine fine superfine duet with Marvin Rainwater on The Majesty Of Love, an odd combination of country & western and doo-wop.
I found this delightful posed photo of Connie but could not find a date for it. I would guess the late ’50s,—I mean, it pretty much shouts “Fifties!,” or at least early ’60s—but I’m certainly not an expert on her appearance.
Who’s sorry now?
That’s it! Those are the nutshell arguments for and against Connie Francis in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Frankly, I haven’t thought her nomination through, so I’m uncertain as to whether or not I would vote for her.
But I’d sure have to do some thinking about it.
FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is of the photogenic Miss Francis from 1961 when she was a delectable 23 years old.