Another talent: Frank Stallone
By Lisa Kestenbaum / Special to The Malibu Times
He’s got the same slightly off-center nose, and the same vertically oval, brown eyes, one slightly larger than the other. And he’s worked on some of the same movies. But he’s got another talent over his superstar brother, Sylvester Stallone.
Frank Stallone is a longtime writer, composer and performer. He recently took the stage for a show at The Malibu Inn, with an opening act by Grammy Award winner Michael Sembello. Stallone played a set that included well-known hits from his work on movie soundtracks such as “Staying Alive” and the “Rocky” films, as well as blues tracks from his personal albums, and even a cover of The Beatle’s “Come Together.”
An avid musician, Stallone plays both the electric and the acoustic guitar, provides lead vocals and also plays the harmonica. Nominated for a Golden Globe for best song and best soundtrack, both for “Staying Alive” in 1983, Stallone has composed and published more than two hundred of his own songs.
Born in Maryland and raised in Philadelphia, Stallone began playing guitar in coffeehouses and street corners while his brother, Sylvester, pursued a career in acting. When Sylvester moved out to California to work on the first “Rocky” film, Frank joined him, taking a part in the film as one of the street corner singers. The role was Frank’s on-screen singing debut, as he performed a cappella the self-penned song, “Take You Back,” in the opening scene. “The only reason I got the part was that I was the only musician my brother, Sylvester, knew, and I worked cheap,” Frank Stallone said joking.
Since “Rocky,” Stallone has written and recorded compositions for numerous films, appeared in more than 50 as an actor, and recorded solo albums, such as “Full Circle” and “Songs From the Saddle.” He has continued to write music for his brother’s films, compiling them into the album “Stallone on Stallone by Request,” which features songs like “Far From Over,” “Moody Girl” and “Never Going to Give You Up.”
Although Stallone does play shows around the nation and abroad, when it comes to making music, he said he usually likes to go to a studio. “I’m kind of a dinosaur, I still write songs on a cassette,” he said. “I’m thinking, if it sounds good on acoustic guitar, it’ll sound good live.”
Like many artists from the American Songbook generation, Stallone said he prefers the traditional modes of recording, as opposed to how a great deal of contemporary material is made, which tends to be more production and less music.
Stallone gives credit to musical acts like soul singer Corinne Bailey Rae, whom he describes as “a real solid artist, one who can just do the music,” as well as the band The White Stripes.
Reflecting on the age of the Internet and the ease with which music can be obtained online, Stallone said he does not necessarily object to the prevalence of people downloading music for free, but, he said, it is important for people to continue to buy albums and go to shows. “It’s supporting the arts; it has to pay the band,” he said.
When it comes to going on stage, the performer said he “can’t wait to get out there and sing. It’s really something you have to love. A lot of people treat [music] like a business, but I guess I’m kind of a sap.”
More information on Frank Stallone, his music, film history and upcoming shows, can be found online at www.frankstallone.com.