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Buddy Greco dead; showman who sang ‘The Lady Is a Tramp’ was 90

Jazz singer Buddy Greco performs at Orange Coast

Jazz singer Buddy Greco performs at Orange Coast College's Robert B. Moore Theatre in 1996. Grego died Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in Las Vegas. He was 90. Credit: TNS / Los Angeles Times / Christine Cotter

Buddy Greco, the jazz singer, piano player and long-running Vegas showman whose hits included “The Lady Is a Tramp,” has died.

The musician, who was often associated with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin’s Rat Pack and whose lengthy career spanned eight decades, died Jan. 10 in Las Vegas, according to his Facebook page. He was 90.

Sam Greco confirmed his father had died, but did not provide details or cause of death.

For decades Greco headlined top nightclubs, cabarets and music rooms around the world. He had such solid-selling singles as “The Lady Is a Tramp,” “I Ran All the Way Home” and “Mr. Lonely” and recorded more than 60 albums.

He also performed with Marilyn Monroe, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne and once played for Queen Elizabeth II along with The Beatles.

Although he was never officially a member of the Rat Pack, he shared the stage and hung out with Sinatra, Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.

Born Armando Greco in South Philadelphia in 1926, Greco began performing at age 4. He sang on the radio and started playing piano by the time he was 6. When he was 20, he signed with his first record label, MusiCraft, which counted Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Tormé among its artists.

“I knew the minute I was born, I’ve always known my life was going to be in the music business,” Greco said in a 2008 interview with The Riverside Press-Enterprise.

“Oh Look-A-There Ain’t She Pretty” was his first hit, selling more than 1 million copies, according to his website. In 1949, band leader Benny Goodman came into Philadelphia’s Club 13, heard Greco and hired him as his keyboardist.

“I always wanted to be my own boss,” Greco said in 1991. “I never liked working with anybody. When I first made a couple of records that were little hits, people like Charlie Ventura, Buddy DeFranco and Dizzy (Gillespie) used to mention me for their band. But I never wanted to work with them. The only guy I really wanted to work for was Benny Goodman.

“Luckily, one night he came in and hired me.”

Although he was a mainstay in America, two of his career highlights took place in England, where he lived and toured, Greco said in a 1991 interview with the Los Angeles Times.

In 1960, he recorded what became his favorite album, “From the Wrist Down,” a collection of instrumentals with accompaniment from the London Symphony Orchestra. And in 1964, he played for the queen at Prince of Wales Hall.

In 1991, Greco released his first jazz album, the self-produced “The Magic of It All,” which took him back to his musical roots.

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