Frankie Moreno is experiencing the odd math of the music industry, where No. 71 sometimes trumps No. 1. That shifting arithmetic means, for one shining week, Moreno tops the Backstreet Boys.
How it works: Moreno’s latest album, “Frankie Moreno Live in Las Vegas” has debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. That same album is also No. 71 on the Billboard Current Album charts.
Heatseekers tracks emerging artists, and it’s a chart Moreno knows well. His past five albums — counting “Live” — have debuted in Heatseekers’ top 10, and “Live” is the first to debut at No. 1.
But his No. 71 position in the wide-open Current Album list is a greater commercial achievement, by a lot.
“For people outside the industry, No. 1 is the hottest thing to talk about because everybody knows what No. 1 means,” says Moreno, a Las Vegas performer since 2000. “But in the industry, the No. 71 on the open list is about the biggest thing I’ve done in my career. It’s a far bigger deal than No. 1.”
Naturally, that list is dotted with superstars. Thomas Rhett’s “Center Point Road” is No. 1. In Moreno’s neighborhood, the Stray Cats’ “40” is No. 69, “This Land” by Gary Clark Jr. is No. 70, “Experiment” by Kane Brown is No. 72, and — wait for it —“DNA” by Backstreet Boys is No. 73. Of course, DNA was released several months ago and its sales have crested, but still …
“It’s pretty wild when you look at that list and see your name there,” Moreno says. “It’s everybody, all genres are in it.”
Moreno alternates headlining dates at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz and South Point Showroom, where “Live” was recorded in a single performance in January. The veteran Vegas showman has been recording and releasing albums at high velocity since August, with five in a row hitting the top 10 in the Heatseekers list.
In reverse order, “This Is Frankie Moreno” hit No. 7 in April; “Naked” released in February, hit No. 3; “Frankie’s Christmas Party,” hit No. 6 in December; and “Broke Down in Paradise” (highlighted by “The Biggest Cat In Town,” the theme for PodKats!) was at No. 10 in August.
“Live” was cut during a sold-out show at South Point Showroom in January. Moreno’s blossoming and dedicated FM Army has propelled on his career for the past three years, filling his venues and snapping up his releases as fast as he can release them. It’s likely “Live In Las Vegas” will move a total of 500,000 copies, combining online and hard-CD sales. That mark is still good for a coveted gold record in the music industry.
“The fan club is just unbelievable,” Moreno says. “That’s the reason for it all.”
Venerable Vegas singer and talk-show host Dennis Bono had been keeping a secret for a long time — about two years — about his longtime friend, Steve Lawrence. When the singing legend shared a letter Tuesday that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s, Bono was finally able to talk publicly what he’d held privately about his friend’s condition.
“Steve still has a sense of humor and a sense of music, and we’re going to focus on that,” says Bono, who has known Lawrence for 30 years. “He will still open up and sing when we’re driving, anything on (the SiriusXM station) Siriusly Sinatra. He can still sing his butt off, and he sounds as good as ever.”
Dennis Bono and his wife, Lorraine Hunt-Bono, have for years been neighbors of Lawrence. They were also close to Lawrence’s superstar wife and singing partner, Eydie Gorme, who died Aug. 10, 2013. The couple’s final Las Vegas performance was the final show at the Stardust Showroom on Oct. 28, 2006.
In his open letter, Lawrence said, “I want my beloved fans to know that in spite of this bittersweet moment, what I don’t want is pity or sympathy. I have lived and am living a wonderful, joyous life filled with love, support and amazing moments.
“With my beloved Eydie, I had one of the great loves of all time; my career has always been there for me as a source of joy and fulfillment; and you, my fans, have shown immeasurable love and support in ways I only could have imagined.”
Bono, his voice wavering, said, “These things happen. You get older and you want to be there for your friend, to keep him engaged. Steve still has his wit and charm and is as personable and extroverted as ever. None of that has changed.”
Paula moves the chains
Yes, that was Paula Abdul performing a private party at Caesars Palace to celebrate Caesars Entertainment’s partnership with the NFL as the league’s official casino partner. Lisa Vanderpump of “Vanderpump Rules” and Vanderpump Cocktail Garden was on hand, so Abdul sang to her. She (Abdul) headlines her “Forever Your Girl” residency at Flamingo Las Vegas beginning Aug. 13.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.