Frankie was born on August 23rd, 1944. As a young boy he and his family lived in the southern Colorado town of Trinidad later coming to Denver. The family resided on Galapago Street in the West Denver neighborhood. Frankie would attend nearby catholic high school – St. Joseph.
At a very young age, Frankie made his first public appearances at Denver’s annual Summer “Rocky Mountain News Show Wagon” as well as the radio station KTLN Show Wagon, an annual summer Denver happening in which the wagons would travel around the various Denver neighborhood parks, providing a diverse array of amateur entertainment, all free to the public, drawing very large audiences during the warm summer evenings. Frankie performed solo, playing guitar.
After graduating in 1962 from St. Joseph High School in Denver, Frankie joined “The Checkmates” included Ray Sekera, Curt Fisher (drums) and Dave Adams (guitar). The Checkmates started off in the early 1960’s as “Johnny & The Checkmates prior to replacing Johnny (who was John Paul Jones) with Frankie.
Frankie and the Checkmates began performing the West Denver 3.2 nightclub “The Galaxy”. Frankie recalls that early on the spot had another name, which is lost to time. The Galaxie structure still stands today, serving as a veteran’s club.
In November of 1965 Frankie and his next group, “The Squires”, headed south to the famed Norman Petty Studio in Clovis, New Mexico – home base for Buddy Holly and the Crickets as well as many others including Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs. They cut two tracks, “Maybe The Last Time” and “We Belong Together” both of which were not released at the time.
Since then “Nor-Va-Jak Music”, the James Brown number “Maybe the Last Time”has been included a CD collection titled “Norman Petty Recording Studios – Vault Series 1965-1969 Volume 3”. That same CD also includes classic cuts by three other Colorado based bands, the Teardrops, the Trolls and the Chandells all from Pueblo, Colorado.
The Squires were:
- Frankie Rino – vocals
- Jack Skinner – bass
- Eddie Everret – lead guitar
- James Woods – drums
- Gary Stephens – keyboards
Frankie’s next group, “The Innovations” accompanied him on a 1969 LP —
- Les James (piano)
- Denny Dale (drums)
- Tony Streno (bass and trumpet)
Frankie found himself on a fast track in the Denver adult nightclub scene including stints at “The Four Winds”, and was somewhat of a regular at “La Place Pigalle” located in Brooks Towers at 1444 Arapahoe Street
Moving into the 1970’s Frankie was backed by “The Colorado Express” which included Flo and Kenny Rendon – “Express” founders along with George Newman, and Jim Anderson – and it was this group who often appeared with Frankie at “La Place Pigalle” before moving on to Las Vegas where they appeared for an extended period of time at the Riviera Hotel and Casino.
Other Denver night spots included:
The Regency Rodeway Inn at the “Valley Highway” and 38th Street
Then in 1972 Frankie landed a five-week engagement at the famous “Stardust” in Las Vegas. That followed with a booking at Lake Tahoe’s “Sahara” , Nevada – and then an appearance on the Merv Griffin Show on November 1st of 1972.
In Vegas, Frankie was backed by Denver’s Rendon Brothers (Kenny and Floyd). The trio remained in the Desert Glitz Capitol for 3 years. Frankie returned to Denver where he became first an office on the Denver police force and then a detective, where he remained for 34 years.
Frankie Rino’s agent was Mitch DeWood who had earlier been part of a comedy duo with Marty Allen (of “Hello Der” fame).
Frank Sinatra Jr., at the Hollywood Whiskey A-Go-Go
ORDER OF BANDS
Les James Trio in Denver? (Same Les or Less James – of the Arellano Trio? YES
When did you first take an interest in music? What about in school?