Saturday, March 21, 2015

Al Capone: The Alcatraz Romantic?

Al Capone: The Alcatraz Romantic?

By Mauricio Segura
August 6, 2014

source - courtesy of Madame Tussauds San Francisco
reposted at -
     That's a painting of the infamous crime boss Al "Scarface" Capone during his internment in Alcatraz. Unlike his time served in Philadelphia's Eastern Penitentiary where he was treated as a celebrity with perks, Alcatraz proved to be the complete opposite. However, due to good behavior, he was allowed some leisure time on occasion.

     As depicted in the painting, Big Al played a mean banjo. He was a huge fan of music and the arts, and indulged in them whenever possible. When not behind bars, he often attended the Opera and Symphonic performances around Chicago. 

      His love for jazz far surpassed his other little hobbies like extortion and murder. In fact, legendary jazz pianist Fats Waller once played the entire duration of Al's three-day-long 27th birthday party. Now, it's true that Fats was abducted at gun point and actually forced to play for Capone, but he was paid handsomely for his troubles and returned safely to the same street corner he was nabbed him from.

     While in Alcatraz, Capone and some other inmates formed a prison band named the Rock Islanders where they performed the popular tunes of the day, as well as a few originals. That said, romantic is not the first word that comes to mind in association with Al Capone, but the truth of the matter was he spent a lot of his free time writing poetry and love songs. Who knew that the man who is best remembered for orchestrating one of the most heinous gangland murder hits (The St. Valentine's Day Massacre) in mob history, was truly a romantic softy!

     Here are the lyrics to one of his surviving "hits" written while in Alcatraz...

Madonna Mia,
You’re the bloom of the roses,
You’re the charm that reposes,
In the heart of a song.

Madonna Mia,
With your true love to guide me,
Let whatever betide me,
I will never go wrong.

There’s only one moon above,
One golden sun,
There’s only one that I love,
You are the one.

     Ok, so it wouldn't be much of a hit today, I don't even think his contemporaries like Sinatra, Crosby, or Como would have touched it. But then again, The Beach Boys recorded a song penned by Charles Manson once, so anything would have been possible.The song was recorded in 2009 by members of the Al Capone Fan Club (yes, it really exists), and if you ever come across it, it's really not that bad a tune. The original sheet music was given as a gift by Capone to a priest who visited him every week, and was sold at auction just a couple of years ago for $65,000!

     So now you know, Al Capone had a human side. Wonder what would have happened if fate had taken him down a different road. Imagine that?

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