Nino Tempo is best known for his 1963 duet "Deep Purple" on Atco with his sister Carol - singing under the stage name April Stevens - that went to No.1 on the Billboard charts. The song won the 1964 Grammy Award for Best Rock and Roll Recording. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
Born Antonino LoTempio in Niagara Falls, New York in 1935, Nino was a musical prodigy. He learned to play the clarinet and the tenor saxophone as a child. He was a talent show winner at four years of age and appeared on television with Benny Goodman at seven.
When his family moved to California, he appeared on the Horace Heidt radio show, performing a Benny Goodman clarinet solo. A child actor, he worked in motion pictures in such films as 1949's The Red Pony and in 1953's The Glenn Miller Story starring James Stewart.
He was also a sought after session musician working with Elkie Brooks and a member of The Wrecking Crew for Phil Spector. Through a Bobby Darin recording session, he made connections with Atlantic Records and he and his sister signed with its Atco Records subsidiary.
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The group had a string of Billboard hits, and their biggest, "Deep Purple," was originally released as a "B-side" by producer Ahmet Ertegun, who was dubious of Tempo's belief that it would be a hit, calling it "the most embarrassing thing" the duo had ever recorded.
When the "A-side" song, "Paradise," flopped, Ertegun relented, and the song achieved notability as the longest running hit B-side, a title it carried for 21 years.
In late 1973, a little less than 10 years after "Deep Purple" topped the Hot 100, Tempo reached #53 in his last appearance on the Hot 100 with the instrumental "Sister James" as Nino Tempo And 5th Avenue Sax (a play on Saks Fifth Avenue.) "Sister James" became one of the first instrumental disco records to reach the national charts.
For years following their charting singles, the duo continued recording, but failed to achieve continued sales success.
In 1975, Tempo played saxophone on John Lennon's Rock 'n' Roll album. He continues to perform to this day.