Before the Echoes Fade
“An Entertainer’s Life in the Shadow of Fame”
His show business name was Len Carrie, but he was born Leonard Caramante in the Port Richmond section of Staten Island 91 years ago. A new book, the biography of Carrie, is called Before the Echoes Fade and has just been released. You may not have heard of Len Carrie, his name was never a household word, but his long career is intermingled with the lives and times of some of the biggest and brightest names in the business. Mention Louie Prima, Louie Armstrong, Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra or Tiny Tim and you get raised eyebrows. They were all at one time or another, in one way or another, part and parcel of the Len Carrie story. Anyway you choose to view it, you will always draw the same conclusion, Carrie is a show business legend.
In the book’s forward, another legend, “Uncle” Floyd Vivino, says of Carrie, “A true showman. Everybody has great memories of this man. He is the last of his kind. A living encyclopedia of show business. He was a singer, comedian, emcee, band leader and nightclub owner.”
There is a fascinating story about Carrie, who during his service in WWII, was late getting back from leave. He was summoned to the commanding officer, which meant he would miss a training flight. He would have much rather have gone on the flight, but given no choice, he went to receive his punishment from the commander. In the meantime, the training flight crashed, killing all nine aboard.
Call it fate or luck or perhaps God’s will, missing the flight had given him an additional 73 years of life, so far. He used it to become one of the most talented entertainers on the stage. In the 1950s, his comedy band, The Krackerjacks, played every summer at Tony Mart’s club. When the owner, Tony Moratta was asked in later years what turned his ‘dive’ into the most successful night club on the Jersey Shore, his answer was simply “Len Carrie and the Krackerjacks.”
They won on the Arthur Godfrey and his Talent Scouts program and that success opened new doors and an encounter with the maestro of musical madness, Spike Jones. In 1958, Jones invited Len to appear on his TV show, The Club Oasis and then on a nightclub tour. This was the height of his career, but it came near the end of Spike Jones’ career. Spike died in 1965 at age 53. Carrie made his way back to Staten Island and bought into a nightclub called The Moulin Rouge, which he operated for ten years.
Carrie then put a band back together and booked rooms with luncheons at catering halls, hired acts and the impresario was back on stage. He brought in the acts he used at the Moulin Rouge and added to that distinguished list with The Four Aces, Don Cornell, Al Martino and Allen and Rossi.
As the years went by, it was time for the memoirs. As it said in the preface of “Before the Echoes Fade,” He is an old man now; time had made him that way.
When author Andy Mele met with Carrie for the first time in over 30 years, they talked over old times, old friends and the collaboration on a book. When Len was asked if he wanted to pursue the project, his comment was direct, “Sure,” he said. “But you better type fast. I’m 90 years old!”
About the Author: Andy Mele is a frequent contributor to the Italian Tribune and is an expert on numerous sports and sports figures, especially in the areas of baseball and boxing. He is the author of three other books and many short stories. He proudly resides in Staten Island.
Before the Echoes Fade “An Entertainer’s Life In the Shadow Of Fame” is available at Staten Island Barnes & Noble and on line at Authorhouse.com, Amazon.com and BN.com.