There is a rumor that 'made men' financed the studio recording for today’s song It's alleged that the infamous Gambino family put the money up to get the Italian-themed song out to the public.
It would not be the first time that an Italian American singer had such rumors swirling around them. Famed FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover spent years trying to link Frank Sinatra to the syndicate. Sinatra denied having any connections.
In the 1960’s, today’s singer became known for singing Italian American novelty songs. Although this song would become his most famous, it was not his only Italian novelty tune. He also sang "Pepino the Italian Mouse," "Pepino's Friend Pasqual," and "Paulucci, the Italian Parrot," among several others.
There is no doubt that this is a catchy tune: listen to it one time, then try to get it out of your head. While it is certainly loved among many generations of Italian Americans not everyone appreciates this holiday earworm.
A simple Google search of "the worst Christmas songs ever" will inevitably feature many entries for this song.
It looks like we have radio to thank for this song because after today’s singer served in WWII, he returned to Lyndhurst, NJ, and got a gig hosting an AM radio show out of Newark. He used a variety show format to his airtime; he would crack jokes about being raised in an Italian family and sing funny songs. He eventually started working the New York and New Jersey comedy club scene and became an Italian American popular culture hero.
Fast forward to 1995 when a BBC radio DJ named Chris Moyles played the song to poke fun at his news announcer, Dominic Byrne. He urged his listeners to download today’s song from iTunes so it would finally crack the iTunes Top 10.
His campaign worked, and the song went all the way to No. 3 on the UK iTunes charts. The song still does well enough that his family receives enough royalties every year to help pay for Christmas.
Lou Monte…Dominick The Donkey…on K103’s I Know That Song