Contino studied accordion primarily with San Francisco-based Angelo Cognazzo, and occasionally with Los Angeles-based Guido Deiro. Early on he exhibited great virtuosity on the instrument. Although he graduated from Fresno High School in 1947 and enrolled at Fresno State College, he was unable to concentrate on his studies. Contino explained, "I enjoyed college, but while attending classes I kept thinking that if I was going to be a success, it would be my music that would take me there."
Contino got his big break on December 7, 1947 when he played Lady of Spain (his signature piece) and won first place in the Horace Heidt/Philip Morris talent contest in Fresno which was broadcast on national radio. Contino also won first place in subsequent competitions in Los Angeles, Omaha, Des Moines, Youngstown, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and New York City. He won first place in the final round on December 12, 1948 in Washington, D.C. Contino had a hit single with Lady of Spain in early 1949. The song peaked at #47 on the US pop charts. Eddie Fisher had much better success with the song 1952.
Contino toured with the Horace Heidt Orchestra and was billed as the "world's greatest accordion player." He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show a record 48 times.
He is still active today performing in Las Vegas and Laughlin, Nevada most of the time. He also tours.
Accordion Magic is one of his rarer recordings and has never been re-issued in CD.
Sources: Wikipedia, Hamilton Album Discography, Dick Contino's Web Page.
- Dark Eyes
- I Wonder I Wonder I Wonder
- Cool Water
- Sentimental Me
- Till I Waltz Again With You
- Hava Nagila
- I Almost Lost My Mind
- Flight Of The Bumble Bee
- She's Funny That Way
- Blues In F
- I'm Beginning To See The Light
Other recordings (and books):
- An Accordion in Paris
- Accordion Man: The Legendary Dick Contino
- Dick Contino's Blues and Other Stories
- Dick Contino at the Fabulous Flamingo in Las Vegas
- Dick Contino: On Stage [ LP Vinyl ]
- Dick Contino - Hawaiian Holiday
- Accordion Magic
- South American Holiday
- It's Dance Time
- Polka Time
- Love Italian Style (Double LP Set)
- Some CDs available on Dick Contino's Web Page