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WAS DESI A GREAT SINGER?

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I always thought so but was shocked to read an article on the net that said he was not that great as a singer. Personnaly, i thought he was more of a charmer/performer with such flair and magnetism that he made every song sound better by his interpretation of it, he was a real showman in my book. Let's face it, there were many performers who made quite the name for themselves but could certainly not be called great singers, they were just fantastic performers. I can rattle off a list of people, like Jimmy Durante, Louis Armstrong, Maurice Chevalier, Rex Harrison, Sophie Tucker etc . . . who excelled at PERFORMING a song in their inimitable style rather than just being great singers.

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Having just watched Drafted, yet again, and seeing Desi, in uniform, singing with Fred and he starts the song much too high and it stinks, if i had been the director, i would have done that scene over. I think i recall a scene also where Vivian, also dueting with Bill, either picking the wrong key or singing the song in a much too high voice. I thought Lucy was the one who was supposed to NOT BE ABLE to sing on this show. It was also a pleasant surprise to see Bill on a quiz show doing proper renditions of beautiful songs from the period and he did them remarkably well. Of course he was a singer in vaudeville and is credited with debuting quite a few hits of that era.

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Personally I think Desi sang soft slow songs much better than upbeat songs. His voice suited more tenor sounds, rather than those bass sounds. He has such a nice vibrato to his voice but that wasn't shown off in his faster songs.

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He was okay. Not a fabulous singer IMO. I think even Lucy was quoted as saying once that she didn't think Desi was all that great of a singer, he was just loud.

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IMO, Desi was an above-average singer but, more importantly, a terrific performer! He could sell the hell out of whatever he was singing.

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IMO, Desi was an above-average singer but, more importantly, a terrific performer! He could sell the hell out of whatever he was singing.

Exactly, it was more about presentation than skill. Couldn't believe it when i read the producers of SNL were afraid he'd have a heart attack while doing Babalu on their show and they cut it short just in case, that's how much the man put everything in his performance.

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IMO, Desi was an above-average singer but, more importantly, a terrific performer! He could sell the hell out of whatever he was singing.

Exactly, it was more about presentation than skill. Couldn't believe it when i read the producers of SNL were afraid he'd have a heart attack while doing Babalu on their show and they cut it short just in case, that's how much the man put everything in his performance.

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As has been said, I think Desi was a great showman and performing live was where he excelled. It's a type of show business that no longer exists and I for one regret that it does not. I've never understood why, after selling his interest in Desilu, he didn't revive the band and play Vegas and tour just for the fun of it. He was only 45, way too young for a performer to retire. I don't know of any entertaining he did between the last LDCH and his appearance on MIL 7 years later, in fine form but so paunchy and grey it must have been a shock to audiences who were still looking at him on ILL reruns only 10 years old. And in prime time. CBS had just run LDCH one last time in the summer of 1967 when MIL debuted in the fall.

 

They're sort of inconsistent about his career on ILL. There's one guy (who?) that meets him and says "Ricky Ricardo! My KIDS have ALL your phonograph records" but his recording career doesn't get much emphasis.

"Don Juan" gets shelved (Dore: "Too many production problems"), but isn't it implied when they return to NYC that he has made a picture? Then he 'yinkses' another one in "Lucy Makes Room...", which gets canceled before they leave Connecticut.

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I think he has a wonderful voice. Isn't the greatest but it was great for what his profession was, nightclub performer. I agree with the ballad thing, he sounded much better. Forever Darling, Baby song, and I Get Ideas are amoung the best. But of course who doesn't love a performance of Babalu?

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As has been said, I think Desi was a great showman and performing live was where he excelled. It's a type of show business that no longer exists and I for one regret that it does not. I've never understood why, after selling his interest in Desilu, he didn't revive the band and play Vegas and tour just for the fun of it. He was only 45, way too young for a performer to retire. I don't know of any entertaining he did between the last LDCH and his appearance on MIL 7 years later, in fine form but so paunchy and grey it must have been a shock to audiences who were still looking at him on ILL reruns only 10 years old. And in prime time. CBS had just run LDCH one last time in the summer of 1967 when MIL debuted in the fall.

 

They're sort of inconsistent about his career on ILL. There's one guy (who?) that meets him and says "Ricky Ricardo! My KIDS have ALL your phonograph records" but his recording career doesn't get much emphasis.

"Don Juan" gets shelved (Dore: "Too many production problems"), but isn't it implied when they return to NYC that he has made a picture? Then he 'yinkses' another one in "Lucy Makes Room...", which gets canceled before they leave Connecticut.

Please Neil, you ought to know better than that, there was one thing missing from ILL and subsequent shows, continuity or consistency.

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I think he has a wonderful voice. Isn't the greatest but it was great for what his profession was, nightclub performer. I agree with the ballad thing, he sounded much better. Forever Darling, Baby song, and I Get Ideas are amoung the best. But of course who doesn't love a performance of Babalu?

Put me down for Jezebel and the Indian song, LOL! Oh and MARTHA of course.

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I think he is an average singer but a great performer who is so in tuned to the music you can't help watching him. I think Bill sings well old-fashion meldeys but his voice is low. Vivian is the best singer of them all. She too is a terrific, underrated performer. Lucy's singing while criticized especially in her early years is very enjoyable and Lucy's charm and chutzpah add to your enjoyment.

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Just watched Lucy with Ann Margaret again. So many of her musical variety performances in the 60's and 70's are great and even though the voice isn't she totally makes up for it in the dance and overall charm of the piece.

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Just watched Lucy with Ann Margaret again. So many of her musical variety performances in the 60's and 70's are great and even though the voice isn't she totally makes up for it in the dance and overall charm of the piece.

Exactly, just like Desi. I could watch that number she did about autograph hunters all day, it's so long but so entertaining. I thought it was so different when i first saw it.

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I think he is an average singer but a great performer who is so in tuned to the music you can't help watching him. I think Bill sings well old-fashion meldeys but his voice is low. Vivian is the best singer of them all. She too is a terrific, underrated performer. Lucy's singing while criticized especially in her early years is very enjoyable and Lucy's charm and chutzpah add to your enjoyment.

 

Somebody on another site's message board made the excellent observation that Desi is a much better singer when he sings in Spanish than in English. His voice was perfect for Latin music and he was a master of the genre but it could be a little uninspired in English especially if the song was underwhelming.

 

I find Frawley's hammy vaudeville style a little too over the top for my taste but he's not bad if the song doesn't go on too long. And you're right, Vivian was a wonderful singer, it's a shame she had to "ruin" a couple of great numbers for comic effect and they wouldn't let her sing them straight out perfect. I wish they had let her sing "My Hero" from The Chocolate Solider without any imperfections, she does a lovely job with it. (This reminds me of the wonderful "Y'all Come" number with the cast with it's sensational hybrid of Nashville and Cuba at the finale that unfortunately is marred by earlier "comic" bits like chicken clucking.)

 

Lucy sings pretty good in many variety specials over the years, alas the Lucy Ricardo off-key running gag and MAME (where the songs were generally out of her range) have unfortunately given her the legend of having no singing talent. And those Mame critics are quite unfair given Angela Lansbury is scarcely a Streisand nor are such other successful Broadway musical stars like Lauren Bacall and Katharine Hepburn.

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.)

 

Lucy sings pretty good in many variety specials over the years, alas the Lucy Ricardo off-key running gag and MAME (where the songs were generally out of her range) have unfortunately given her the legend of having no singing talent. And those Mame critics are quite unfair given Angela Lansbury is scarcely a Streisand nor are such other successful Broadway musical stars like Lauren Bacall and Katharine Hepburn.

So true, even Merman wasn't exactly the geatest singer but she sure did project well, LOL! Of course, she did have a great teacher in Lucy. Listen to lansburied massacre the horrible Sweeney Todd songs, i dunno how that show ever succeeded. Liked Bacall in Applause and Hepburn in Coco, BUT, they were stars triumphing over singing capabilities.

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So true, even Merman wasn't exactly the geatest singer but she sure did project well, LOL! Of course, she did have a great teacher in Lucy. Listen to lansburied massacre the horrible Sweeney Todd songs, i dunno how that show ever succeeded. Liked Bacall in Applause and Hepburn in Coco, BUT, they were stars triumphing over singing capabilities.

 

 

The only time I liked Desi's singing was when he and Lucy did the Cuban Pete number. Otherwise, his singing took up too much comedy time, and his voice wasn't really anything to write home about. Of course, he was the "big cheese," so I can understand why there was so much emphasis on his so-called singing abilities. Whenever he starts pounding those babalu drums and going into a kind of frenzy, I start reading whatever newspaper or magazine is near me. Could never understand the appeal of that number.

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The only time I liked Desi's singing was when he and Lucy did the Cuban Pete number. Otherwise, his singing took up too much comedy time, and his voice wasn't really anything to write home about. Of course, he was the "big cheese," so I can understand why there was so much emphasis on his so-called singing abilities. Whenever he starts pounding those babalu drums and going into a kind of frenzy, I start reading whatever newspaper or magazine is near me. Could never understand the appeal of that number.

Well, Desi was famous for starting the conga craze in NYC and it got him a huge following, and this was used on the show to fill time when needed. I agree with you that it takes away from the comedy BUT, it gave them time to set up the comedic pieces while he sang as they filmed the show in front of the audience, they usually took less than an hour while today they can spend a whole night trying to film a show. While i felt the same way as you when i was a kid watching the show, too much music, bring on the comedy was my main thing, BUT, today, decades later, i've heard those songs so much that they've grown on me and i actually enjoy them a lot today, not as much as i enjoy the comedy from Lucy, but still. :lucydesi::professor:

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I think Desi was an adequate singer. At times he's slightly off key. So like others, I would put him in the "great showman" category. And while I don't think he was a great singer, I do think his daughter is!

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I think Desi was an adequate singer. At times he's slightly off key. So like others, I would put him in the "great showman" category. And while I don't think he was a great singer, I do think his daughter is!

Geez, even Bill Frawley was great, he even introduced some BIG musical numbers in his day, ever see him on What's My Line, he was terrific. Desi was similar to Chevalier, a real showman like Jolson, he gave it so much effort that you had to admire him for it, such dedication. I'd love to know how many record albums he sold in his heyday.

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Geez, even Bill Frawley was great, he even introduced some BIG musical numbers in his day, ever see him on What's My Line, he was terrific. Desi was similar to Chevalier, a real showman like Jolson, he gave it so much effort that you had to admire him for it, such dedication. I'd love to know how many record albums he sold in his heyday.

 

Frawley certainly did have a voice. I heard some songs he recorded in the '50s and he was quite impressive. Then there's this. :)

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Frawley certainly did have a voice. I heard some songs he recorded in the '50s and he was quite impressive. Then there's this. :)

Thanks for posting that, he was just wunnerful wunnerful. My Bell satellite listings for the show show the billing as Lucy, Desi and Billy, sounds like a rock group from the sixties, LOL! That always irritates me thet they never show Viv's name but show William Frawley as the third lead.

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Thanks for posting that, he was just wunnerful wunnerful. My Bell satellite listings for the show show the billing as Lucy, Desi and Billy, sounds like a rock group from the sixties, LOL! That always irritates me thet they never show Viv's name but show William Frawley as the third lead.

 

 

Billy Frawley???

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Billy Frawley???

No, Billy was me joking, BUT, they only show Lucy, Desi and William as the show's stars, so odd. AND you should read some of the descriptions of the shows, have no idea where the hell they got them but they are so weird. Here's a lousy example of how it might read . . . Lucy od's on chocolates as she seeks work outside the home.

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