Jasper Cini was born in 1927 and became a friend and disciple of Mario Lanza. Changing his name to Al Martino in the late 1940s when he started his career as a romantic Italian baritone, his breakthrough hit came with Here In My Heart (1952).
The song had been originally intended for Lanza but the older man ceded the song to the beginner. The resulting hit was the first #1 on the newly established NME singles chart in the UK.
Martino enjoyed a string of hits in the 60s, including the enduring Spanish Eyes, and in 1972 he played the character Johnny Fontane in the wedding scene at the beginning of The Godfather (1972), also singing the film’s theme, Speak Softly Love.
Martino reprised the Fontane role in The Godfather Part III (1990).
He was still recording until the night before his death from a heart attack on 13 October 2009, aged 82, his final track being Garth Brooks’ If Tomorrow Never Comes.