Oleg Talks About The Songs

The Making Of Duets With My American Idols.

Introduction I want to give a special thank you to the iconic singer Connie Francis, who recorded the introduction to the album. Another dream came true for me. One of my biggest American idols speaks about me and my music on this CD. Thanks, Connie!

Connie Francis

On January 1, 1958, Connie Francis biggest hit of her career, “Who’s Sorry Now?” debuted on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. By mid-year, over a million copies had been sold, and Francis was suddenly launched into worldwide stardom. In April 1958, “Who’s Sorry Now” reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart and #4 in the US. For the next four years, Francis was voted the “Best Female Vocalist” by American Bandstand viewers.

Day By Day (written by Axel Stordahl and Paul Weston, lyrics by Sammy Cahn)

It’s a standard! It’s a hit! It’s swing! I adore swing and gladly sing Day By Day in concerts. The legendary Ben E. King agreed to record it with me as a duet, which is like a fairy tale to me. It is difficult to convey such deep feelings when singing in a studio with a man who is a legend throughout the world. He was inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, and has won several Grammys as well! These moments will be remembered for my entire life! Our duet is the last recording of Ben E. Sadly he passed away in April, 2015..Thank you so much, Ben E.!

Ben E. King
He was perhaps best known as the singer and co-composer of “Stand by Me”—a US Top 10 hit, both in 1961 and later in 1986 (when it was used as the theme to the film of the same name), a number one hit in the UK in 1987,and as one of the principal lead singers of the R&B vocal group The Drifters.

In May 1960, King left the Drifters, and under the name Ben E. King scored his first solo hit with the ballad “Spanish Harlem” (1961). His next single, “Stand by Me”, written with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, ultimately would be voted as one of “The Songs of the Century,” by the Recording Industry Association of America.. “Stand by Me”, “There Goes My Baby”, “Spanish Harlem”, and “Save the Last Dance For Me” were all named in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll; and each of those records has earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. King’s songs have been covered by top acts from several genres including; Dusty Springfield, Shirley Bassey Tom Jones, Sylvester, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Led Zeppelin, among others. “Stand by Me” was covered by Otis Redding, John Lennon and Mickey Gilley. King passed away in April 2015.

A Fine Romance (written by Jerome Kern , lyrics by Dorothy Fields)

A duet with Melissa Manchester. An amazing singer and performer (a Grammy award winner), she also happens to be a special friend of mine. It came as such a surprise when she agreed to sing with me on this track, and working with her was such a breeze. Thank you, Melissa!

Melissa Manchester
In 1975, her second album, “Melissa” produced her first top ten hit, “Midnight Blue”, which enjoyed 17 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The song’s peak-position was #6 for the week of August 9, 1975. She also reached #10 with her version of Peter Allen’s “Don’t Cry Out Loud”, for which she received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Female Vocal Performance.

In 1982, she released “You Should Hear How She Talks About You,” which won the 1983 Grammy for Best Pop Female Vocal Performance, beating out Linda Ronstadt, Olivia Newton-John, Juice Newton, and Laura Branigan.In 1980, “Through The Eyes of Love” (from Ice Castles) and “I’ll Never Say Goodbye” (from The Promise) were nominated for Academy Awards, Manchester holds the distinction of the first artist with two movie themes nominated in the same year.

On the Sunny Side of the Street (written by Jimmy McHugh, lyrics by Dorothy Fields)

Our duet with Tony Orlando. I remember when Keely Smith did this song on the radio. At that point I fell in love with the song forevermore. Nothing can match the sheer radiance that exudes from this track. We recorded this one with Tony Orlando. Thank you, Tony!

Tony Orlando
Discovered by producer Don Kirshner, Orlando had songs on the charts in 1961 when he was 16, “Halfway to Paradise” and “Bless You”. He sang under the name “Dawn” in the 1970s, and when the songs became hits, he went on tour and the group became “Tony Orlando and Dawn”.

They had several songs which were major hits including “Candida”, “Knock Three Times”, and “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You)” (1975), a cover of the Jerry Butler hit, “He Will Break Your Heart. The group hosted a variety program, “The Tony Orlando and Dawn Show” on CBS-TV from 1974–76, and then broke up in 1978. Orlando has continued as a solo singer, performing in Las Vegas and Branson, Missouri.

You are Nobody Till Somebody Loves You (written by Russ Morgan, Larry Stock, and James Cavanaugh)

Our duet with Gary U.S. Bonds. I’m insanely happy that we recorded this together. Who hasn’t sang it before? Everyone from Frank Sinatra to Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, of course. We have the rock n roll star Gary U.S. Bonds for this very joyful duet. Thank you, Gary, for being such a warm and friendly man!

Gary U.S.Bonds
Bonds established himself as noted rhythm and blues and rock and roll singer, known for his classic hits “New Orleans” and “Quarter to Three”. His career spans several decades and he is also a prolific songwriter. Bonds’ first hit was the song “New Orleans,” and “Quarter to Three” which was a number one hit 1961. “Quarter To Three” sold one million records, earning a gold disc. Subsequent hits, under his modified name, included “School Is Out” (#5), “Dear Lady Twist” (#9), “School Is In” (#28) and “Twist, Twist, Señora” (#10) in the early 1960s. In 1963, he toured Europe as a headliner above the Beatles.

Volare (written by Franco Migliacci and Domenico Modugno)

Is a song from my childhood, and the voice that sings it with me is one that I have always idolized. I believe that almost nobody sings swing better than Bobby Rydell. I have learned all of his recordings, and watched hundreds of television shows and movies with him. I just can’t believe that my idol (who has recorded the first English-language version of this international hit) sang it with me! Thank you, Bobby! I hope you stay as vivacious as you have always been!

Bobby Rydell
During the 1960s, Rydell had numerous hit records on the Billboard Hot 100 record chart. His recording career earned him 34 Top 40 hits, placing him in the Top 5 artists of his era (Billboard). These included his most popular successes, “Wild One” (his highest scoring single, at number 2), “Volare” (number 4), “Swingin’ School” (number 5), “Kissin’ Time” (number 11), “Sway” (number 14), “I’ve Got Bonnie” (number 18) and “The Cha-Cha-Cha” (number 10). His last major chart success was “Forget Him”, which reached number 4 on the Hot 100 in January 1964. He still performs regularly all over the world.

Hello, Dolly! (written by Jerry Herman)

This was the first American song that I had ever heard. You will find this particular version very peculiar. When I told Jerry Herman that I wanted to record this in English and Yiddish, he loved it. Thanks to journalist Michael Nemirovsky for his Yiddish verses, and renowned producer Moishe Rosenfeld for editing the lyrics in a language rarely spoken today. The brilliant actress and singer Lainie Kazan is indispensable in this song. Her sense of humor and the way she plays her part in another language makes me say, “Oh goodness, I’m singing with this Hollywood movie star!” Thank you, Lanie!

Lanie Kazan
Kazan made her Broadway debut in The Happiest Girl in the World in 1961 followed by Bravo Giovanni (1962). She served as understudy to Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl, finally getting to go on 18 months into the run when the star was ill with a serious throat problem. Kazan received rave reviews for her performance, and later quit the show and set out to establish herself in a singing career.

She later headlined and operated two different Playboy Jazz Clubs, both under Hugh Hefner’s reign which she called Lainie’s Lounge East and West on opposite coasts, one in Los Angeles and the other in Manhattan. Kazan also appeared in numerous supper clubs across the country, and was a featured guest on Dean Martin’s variety series 26 times.

Sunny (written by Bobby Hebb)

Featuring B. J. Thomas. I often recall meeting with Bobby Hebb (unfortunately, he is no longer with us), who shared with me the sad story behind this song (he dedicated it to his brother who was killed tragically). The legendary BJ Thomas and I have done all can to convey his bright, yet melancholic tone in this duet. He’s a sensual, friendly, and truly amazing singer. BJ is a legend in several genres, and is a winner of 5 Grammy Awards! Thank you, BJ!

B.J. Thomas
He is particularly known for his hit songs of the 1960s and 1970s, which appeared on the pop, country, and Christian music charts. His best-known recording is the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song, ” Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” which sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.

In 1968, “Hooked on a Feeling”, which featured the sound of an electric sitar became Thomas’s second million-selling record. A year later Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid featured Thomas performing the Bacharach/David song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1970. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences also inducted “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

The Way You Look Tonight (written by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Dorothy Fields)

Our charming duet with Peggy March. She agreed to record with me, despite the fact that shortly before the recording she had lost her beloved husband. This song was sung in memory of him. Peggy (who is elegant in everything that she does) had received her Grammy award when she was just 14 years old. She is one of the most stylish women I have ever met. Thank you, Peggy!

Peggy March
On April 24, 1963, her single “I Will Follow Him” soared to number one on the U.S. charts. She recorded the song was released in January , when she was only 14. March became the youngest female artist with a number one hit, at 15, a record that still stands for the Billboard Hot 100. The recording also reached number one in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, and Scandinavia. It was a translation of the French song “Chariot” recorded a year earlier by Petula Clark

When You are Smiling (written by Larry Shay, Mark Fisher, and Joe Goodwin)

Our duet with Lou Christie. A brilliant singer, and a kind, kind, man. He is one of my musical idols. He is always smiling and willing to help (a rare quality for a man of our time). Lou is a rock n ‘roll treasure! Thank you, Lou!

Lou Christie
Christie scored the biggest hit of his career in the early sixties, “How Many Tear Drops,” which sold over a million copies, was certified gold and reached the Top 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1963 , his single “Two Faces Have I” reached number 6 on the chart and became his second million-seller.

Roulette Records released an album of 12 Lou Christie / Tylwa Herbert songs in 1963, and with those hits, Christie joined Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars national tour. Christie continues to record and perform around the country.

What a Difference a Day Makes (written by Maria Grever)

We recorded this with Chris Montez, a man whose style and soft voice had left a deep impression on my soul. He undoubtedly deserves more recognition. I have every one of his records in my collection. This duet means a lot to me. Thank you, Chris!

Chris Montez
In 1962, he recorded the single “Let’s Dance” on Monogram Records (written and produced by Jim Lee). It went to No.4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US and to No.2 on the UK Singles Chart (spending four weeks there). The follow-up, “Some Kinda Fun”, was a lesser hit in the U.S., but reached No.10 in the U.K. in January 1963. Nonetheless, both records sold over one million copies, and were awarded gold discs.

Montez toured with Clyde McPhatter, Sam Cooke, The Platters, and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles during his hey days.

My Solo Recordings

These songs are not often heard nowadays. That is why I have decided to record them.

The Things We Did Last Summer (written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne) – I heard this touching ballad sung by Helen Merrill many years ago. While working on the album one day, I found this song again. Listen to my version. I hope you will like it!

Bagel and Lox (written by Sid Tepper and Roy Bennett) – This is a particularly funny song from the 1940s. I met Sid Tepper when I filmed him for one of my TV programs. He was a surprisingly upbeat and humorous man, despite his advanced age (he recently passed away at age 96!). A man with a prodigious memory, he remembered all his songs and performed them by heart! Do you think that this song could become a hit again?

Dancing On the Ceiling (written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart)- Originally recorded by Fred Astaire (Of course he would be in a song about dancing) and Ella Fitzgerald. Arranger Bob Mann offered this retro styled arrangement to me. I really loved reminiscing and recording this lovely song, so please take a chance and dance with me!

Till There Was You (written by Meredith Wilson) – many had performed this romantic song (that was originally written for the musical, “Music Man”) The Beatles, Shirley Jones and Peggy Lee may have all covered it, but for me it’s always been Sue Raney’s song. At 17, she became the first person to record this song. Another great American standard!


Track List

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Insight about the making of Duets with my American Idols and Oleg musical influences

  • The first American songs that Oleg ever heard were “Hello, Dolly” by Brenda Lee and “The Shadow of Your Smile”
  • The first American male singer Oleg ever heard was Bobby Rydell
  • Oleg’s influences in music are Buddy Greco, Bobby Rydell, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’Day, Eydie Gorme, Blossom Dearie, Chris Montez, Caterina Valente.

What a few friends have to say about Oleg

Says legendary singer and Vegas icon Keely Smith, “Oleg knows and loves American music. He is a positive person and is very good at what he does”

Says the rock n roll legend Ben E. King, “I respect what Oleg does. He is a fighter and a wonderful performer who knows American music very well and sounds great. And I am very proud of being invited to take part in this project.”

Says singer and movie star Lainie Kazan, “This project is really great, as Oleg got together so many brilliant singers and covered many beautiful songs. We definitely need more projects like this.”

Says legendary singer Andy Williams, “Oleg sounds better than I do! His music is a fun”.