Born 6 December 1916, New York City, New York
The songwriting and production duo of Hugo (Peretti) and Luigi (Creatore) had an amazing three-decade career that spanned the '50s, '60s, and '70s. The two cousins were also involved in the business side as label owners (co-owned Roulette Records with Morris Levy, later the Avco/Embassy label) and set unprecedented production deals that are now standard practices in the music industry. Hugo Peretti started his professional music career as teenaged trumpet player on the Borscht Belt, before moving on to playing in Broadway- play orchestras. Luigi Creatore was born in the Hell's Kitchen section of Manhattan, on 21 December, 1920. His father led a symphonic band in Italy and his brothers and sister were musicians. Though he came from a musical family, Luigi himself was not a musician. After returning to the U.S. after serving in the armed forces during World War II, he began a writing career.
Hugo and Luigi began their partnership at a wedding reception for the latter's brother. Hugo's wife was a children's book author and he asked his cousin to help her develop some stories.The duo's first collaboration was a children's record for Mercury Records. Label president Irving Green asked them if they wanted to produce pop records. The first pop hit they produced was "The Little Shoemaker" by the Gaylords (# 2, 1954). Sarah Vaughan scored several Top 20 hits with their productions, 1954-56, and Hugo and Luigi also contributed to one of the most important commercial trends of the mid-50s, the tidying-up of R&B songs for use by white artists, in their case Georgia Gibbs ("Dance With Me Henry", "Tweedle Dee"). In 1957, the hit-making duo left Mercury to buy into Roulette Records and produced million-selling hits for Jimmie Rodgers : "Honeycomb" (# 1) and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" (# 3), and their own compositions "Oh-Oh I'm Falling in Love Again" and "Secretly".
Two years later, Hugo and Luigi signed a production deal with RCA Records that set an industry first. They asked for and received the contract stipulations of a salary, a penny-per-album sold royalty, and producer's credit on all their releases. The pair had an artistic breakthrough when they rejected their creamy-smooth past and recorded the Isley Brothers' raw, uproarious, call-and-response screamer "Shout" (Parts 1 and 2), which only went to # 47 on the pop chart at the time, but established the duo's rock 'n' roll credentials and has sold over 1 million copies in the ensuing years. With that success, Hugo and Luigi were able to lure Sam Cooke away from Keen Records to RCA, and together they had 12 Top 20 hits, including "Chain Gang", "Twistin' the Night Away" and "Bring It On Home To Me". At RCA they also produced The Tokens ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight", # 1 in 1961), Ray Peterson ("Tell Laura I Love Her", # 7) , Perry Como and Little Peggy March ("I Will Follow Him", # 1 in 1963). With George Weiss they co-wrote "Can't Help Falling In Love" for Elvis Presley (though our French list members will undoubtedly tell me that they stole it from "Plaisir d'amour"). Hugo and Luigi were also hit recording artists with the RCA albums "The Cascading Voices of the Hugo and Luigi Chorus" and "Let's Fall in Love" and the single "Just Come Home" in late 1959.
After leaving RCA in 1964, the cousins and George Weiss wrote a musical about the Civil War called "Maggie Flynn", which lasted just 10 weeks on Broadway in 1968. In the '70s, they bought Avco/Embassy Records and had many hits with the Stylistics and produced the first # 1 of the disco era, Van McCoy's "The Hustle" (1975). On their H&L label they issued the Brown Sugar LP by Vivian Reed, the star of the Broadway hit Bubbling Brown Sugar. At the end of the decade, the two retired from the record business. Hugo Peretti died in 1986. Hugo and Luigi's work is available on numerous CD reissues.
(Adapted from All Music Guide and the entry for Hugo and Luigi in the Encyclopedia of Record Producers by Eric Olsen et al.)
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