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Frank Guida
Frank GuidaInducted 2003
Norfolk
Rock 'n' Roll

Born: May 26, 1922
Died: May 19, 2007

The year was 1953. Frank Guida, newly arrived from New York’s Bronx district, set up a record shop called Frankie’s Birdland on Norfolk’s Church Street, and set about making musical history. He soon branched out from merely selling tunes to writing, recording and producing them. The Calypso music that he had heard and sung while stationed in the West Indies during World War II became the core beat of his compositions.

The talent was right outside his door – a local group known as the Church Street Five with saxophonist Gene “Daddy G” Barge – and two young singers, Gary Anderson and James McLeese, who would soar to Number One on the pop charts with “Quarter To Three” and “If You Wanna Be Happy,” recorded under the names Gary U. S. Bonds and Jimmy Soul. Lenis Guess was another Guida find, as was Pamala Stanley, who later returned to Norfolk to launch the Fifth National Banque and the Fifth National Band. Portsmouth artist Tommy Facenda cut more than 30 versions of “High School USA” on Guida’s label. The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, an early fan, still includes Bonds’ tunes in performances.

Somewhere along the way the tunes and the talent met The Sound – now known internationally as the “Norfolk Sound.” Described by some as “aurally dense,” the sound was born out of Guida’s need to compensate for less than state-of-the-art recording conditions in his Church Street and Sewells Point Road studios. To add depth and interest to the tunes, he layered the sounds, double-tracked the vocals, and added background clapping and voices to give the music a spontaneous party-like sound.

Frank Guida, composer, producer, promoter – a Legend of Music for half a century, and a 2003 honoree on the Walk of Fame – his star is embedded in the pavement in front of the former “Frankie’s Got It” record shop, where he spun thousands of records for generations of local fans.