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Ted Fio Rito

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Biography

Theodore Salvatore Fiorito (December 20, 1900 – July 22, 1971), known professionally as Ted Fio Rito, was an American composer, orchestra leader and keyboardist, on both the piano and the Hammond organ, who was popular on national radio broadcasts in the 1920s and 30s. His name is sometimes given as Ted Fiorito or Ted FioRito.

He was born Teodorico Salvatore Fiorito in Newark, New Jersey to an Italian immigrant couple, tailor Louis (Luigi) Fiorito and Eugenia Cantalupo Fiorito, when they were both 21 years old; and he was delivered by a midwife at their 293 15th Avenue residence. Ted Fiorito attended Barringer High School in Newark.

He was still in his teens when he landed a job in 1919 as a pianist at Columbia’s New York City recording studio, working with the Harry Yerkes bands—the Yerkes Novelty Five, Yerkes’ Jazarimba Orchestra and the Happy Six. His earliest compositions were recorded by the Yerkes groups and Art Highman’s band. Fio Rito had numerous hit recordings, notably his two number one hits, “My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii” (1934) and “I’ll String Along with You” (1934). He composed more than 100 songs, collaborating with such lyricists as Ernie Erdman, Gus Kahn, Sam Lewis, Cecil Mack, Albert Von Tilzer and Joe Young.
He moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1921 to join Dan Russo’s band, and the following year he was the co-leader of Russo and Fio Rito’s Oriole Orchestra. When Russo and Fio Rito opened at Detroit, Michigan’s Oriole Terrace, their band was renamed the Oriole Terrace Orchestra. Their first recordings (May 1922) included Fio Rito’s “Soothing.” He did “Sleep” and other tunes for the AMPICO Reproducing Piano.

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