A Collector's Dream!

The story of Tony Bennett's first record

Previously thought to be non-existent, Tony Bennett's first recording, under the name of Joe Bari, has been discovered.

Below is the discography entry for the first recording made by Tony Bennett under the name of Joe Bari. As the notes say, this recording was thought to be lost forever.

Date: ca. April 1949
Location: New York

Tony Bennett (ldr), Tony Bennett (v)

a.Fascinating Rhythm  (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)
b.Vieni Qui  (George Simon)

Anthony Bennedetto's first known recording used his first stage name, Joe Bari, before Bob Hope helped him to devise the more natural "Tony Bennett." Both songs were issued on a 78 (number unknown) issued by Leslie Records, a firm owned by George Simon, who also wrote the second song. According to the 1968 profile of Tony Bennett in Billboard, the only known copy of this disc literally disintegrated at some point in the 1960s.

Click on any photo to see an enlarged version.

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An audio sample of Fascinatin' Rhythm
Read the article in Goldmine mentioning this record.

Below, in the words of collector Bil Bowman, is the story:

I found the item here in Northern California... it's a pretty funny story as to how I acquired the record.

I responded to a local classified ad posted by a man named [name removed] in Redwood City who was selling "over 1000 78 rpm records, all genres" for $230. After confirming that a good portion of the collection was "Blues", "Doo-Wop" and "Rock & Roll", I agreed to buy the collection, which was to be delivered to my home here in North Berkeley. The following week, on a rainy Saturday morning, Mr. [name removed] delivered the many sealed boxes of records, assuring me again of the inclusion of Blues, Doo-Wop and Rock & Roll records in the collection. He hurriedly collected the $255 cash (he added a delivery charge) and departed, thanking me and wishing me best of luck. I immediately started the task of sifting through the records, well aware of the multiple Patty Page and Tennessee Ernie Ford records that would most likely await me. The records were STACKED on top of each other, over a foot high in most boxes... so many of the old 78's destroyed from the trip over to the east bay in the back of this man's pick-up truck. Eventually, I had a MASSIVE stack of what used to be records, and... NOT A SINGLE BLUES, DOO-WOP, or ROCK & ROLL RECORD IN THE ENTIRE LOT!!! I immediately called the crooked seller on his cell phone, instructing him to return my money and to pick up the records, which he has refused to do, claiming he did nothing wrong or unethical(and get this... HE'S A POLICE OFFICER!!!). Among the stacks of old purple label Capitols, red label Columbia and Victor "bat wings" stood out a white label record on a label I've never heard of, by an artist I've never heard of... I put it aside to check out later. Upon listening to it, I immediately thought that the male vocalist sounded like Tony Bennett. I did a little researching online, and sure enough...!

The record is in BEAUTIFUL condition, which only a few light scuffs... nice deep gloss, no graying or damage... I can't believe it survived the hellride from Redwood City! I guess the collection wasn't such a bust after all!

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