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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 24, 2003

Teddy Randazzo, '50s rock legend, dead at 68

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Teddy Randazzo, a rock icon from the 1950s who composed classic hit songs such as "Goin' Out of My Head" and "Hurt So Bad," died Friday in Orlando, Fla. He was 68.

Teddy Randazzo produced and arranged Keola and Kapono Beamer's best-selling song and album, "Honolulu City Lights."

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Randazzo also was a major player on the Island recording scene, producing and arranging Keola and Kapono Beamer's best-selling song and album, "Honolulu City Lights," and composing such signature tunes as "I Love You" for Marlene Sai and "Salty Tears" for John Rowles.

"I talked to him several weeks ago, hoping to put on an acoustic concert," said Tom Moffatt, one of his longtime friends who first introduced Randazzo to Island music fans through the groundbreaking "Show of Stars" revues at the old Civic Auditorium. "He was a rock-era pioneer; we've known each other for at least 45 years, and he became family."

Randazzo was in the process of writing a song called "I Never Got the Chance to Say Goodbye," with his longtime collaborator, Bob Weinstein, at the time of his death, according to Rosemary "Shelly" Kunewa Randazzo, his local-girl wife.

"He was such a good man, who loved the people and the spirit of Hawai'i," said his widow. "He always told me he was a misplaced Hawaiian."

Shelly and Teddy had been married 25 years and met through Tom and Sweetie Moffatt.

"I was doing promotions with Sweetie for Hawaiian Airlines, flying back from Bermuda, and he (Teddy) was picking her up in New York; I saw him afar, and I didn't know him as a rock star. I asked her, 'Who's the guy with the white hair? (Randazzo was prematurely gray)."

They got to know each other when Randazzo was in town, staying with the Moffatts in Nu'uanu.

Moffatt, a deejay, recording industry executive and show presenter, first met Randazzo when he was lead singer with a group called the Three Chuckles; they performed at the old Civic Auditorium, the first rock venue in Hawai'i. Their early hits, included "Won't You Give Me a Chance" and "Richer Than I," which Randazzo didn't write. As a solo recording artist, Randazzo also produced chart-busters such as "Little Serenade" and "The Way of a Clown."

He performed in Honolulu in recent years, in shows staged by Moffatt.

Randazzo, a native of Brooklyn, was born into a musical family on May 13, 1935. At 15, he was recording with The Three Chuckles. In the early years of rock, he co-starred in rock revues staged by legendary disc jockey Alan Freed, appearing with such artists as Chuck Berry and LaVern Baker, said Moffatt. Randazzo also had starring roles, and often performed, in such rock films as "Hey, Let's Twist," "The Girl Can't Help It," "Rock, Rock, Rock" and "Mr. Rock and Roll."

With composing partner, Weinstein, they churned out a string of major hits for Little Anthony and the Imperials, including "Goin' Out of My Head," "Hurt So Bad" and "I'm on the Outside Looking In."

"I've been blessed, really lucky, to have all these good songs," Randazzo said in a 1998 Advertiser interview. "I could live without doing the shows, because royalties provided an income."

"Goin' Out of My Head" was never a No. 1 song for Little Anthony, but when The Lettermen combined it with "Hurt So Bad" in a recorded medley, the tunes became pop classics, recorded by a gamut of industry giants, from Frank Sinatra to Dionne Warwick. "I've lost count on how many versions there are," he said.

Randazzo apparently died in his sleep. An autopsy was pending. The couple, which had five children, lived part of the year in Honolulu, where Shelly has family.

"The legacy for our family is the love he showed the kids," said Shelly Randazzo. "(The fans) may know his music, but we know the kind heart, giving person, he always was."

The survivors are sons Alika, Joshua and Giovanni; daughters Skye and Dominique, all of Orlando; and, from an earlier marriage, a son, Teddy Randazzo Jr., and a daughter, Elisa Rose Schwartz, both of California.

Services are pending in Orlando and Honolulu. Shelly Randazzo said the services "will be a celebration of life; Teddy never attended funerals, except my grandmothers, and he preferred to have happy thoughts and a big party."

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations in Randazzo's memory may be made to Musicares, c/o the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com, 525-8067 or fax 525-8055.