Tony Rossini Biography
Like it or not, Tony Rossini made as many Sun singles as Elvis, Billy Riley, Warren Smith and Sonny Burgess. One listen to SUN-349 tells you that Tony was a school kid; he was in fact just barely thirteen. His father, who was a school teacher in Memphis when Tony recorded for Sun, had once played in orchestras. It wasn’t his father who led him to Sun, though; it was a blue collar worker at Memphis’ Firestone plant, Dan Padgett, who fancied himself as a songwriter. Padgett had seen Tony at high school hops and asked him to demo some songs. He then took the demos to Scotty Moore, newly installed as the studio manager at Sam Phillips’ Madison Ave. studio, and Scotty came to see Tony at a junior high school hop and signed him.
“Scotty produced the first session, and Sam helped,” is the way Tony remembers it. “I don’t really know what Sam was shooting for when he signed me. It was out of character in terms of what motivated and excited him. I was just thirteen, going to Colonial Junior High. Brenda Lee was big then, and so was Eddie Hodges, so maybe Sam thought it was a trend.” Sam was right; it was a trend, but one he should have left alone.
“I Gotta Know” (not to be confused with the Elvis hit from 1960) is in the grand tradition of jealousy songs, the biggest selling example of which is “Suspicion.” Sun didn’t really have the experience or connections necessary to break an artist in this style. “That first release got played pretty strong around Memphis,” says Tony. “I was doing shows with Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison, but I was like the added attraction because I didn’t have any hits.”