Frank and Carmela Guida/Rockmasters International Network, Inc. Collection
Scope and Contents
This collection contains both the personal papers of Frank and Carmela Guida, as well as the records of Frank's music business, including Rockmasters International Network Inc. The bulk of the collection consists of the records related to Rockmasters International Network, Inc. and includes correspondence, administrative records, photographs of artists and Guida's record stores, audiovisual material produced by Guida, and recording equipment used by Guida while recording the music he produced. The rest of the collection consists of the personal papers of the Guidas including corresponence, their involvement in the Italian-American Community, and plays and other writings authored by Frank Guida.
- 1940-2008, undated
- Majority of material found within 1960-1985
- Other: Date acquired: 07/21/2017
- Guida, Frank (1922-2007) (Person)
128.60 Linear Feet
Conditions Governing Access
Portions of this collection are closed until January 1, 2033. Please consult a staff member for further information.
Biographical or Historical Information
Frank Guida and his wife Carmela T. “Millie” Guida were prominent figures in the Norfolk arts and business communities in the latter half of the 20th century. Frank is most remembered for his work as a music composer and producer and for creating what he dubbed the “Norfolk Sound,” which characterized a number of hit records from the early 1960s featuring Jimmy Soul, Gary U.S. Bonds, and other artists.
Frank J. Guida was born in Palermo, Sicily on May 26, 1922. At age two, his family immigrated to the West Bronx neighborhood of New York City where he grew up. Millie (born Carmela Teresa Addesso on Sept. 11, 1924) who also grew up in New York City and graduated from Evander Childs High School. While in school, she attracted the attention of her teachers for her extraordinary singing voice and was strongly encouraged to study voice at New York's Juilliard School of Music, but World War II and marriage put her on a different path. She and Frank were married in 1942 and soon after Frank enlisted in the US Army. He was stationed at Port of Spain, Trinidad, where became interested in calypso music and performed as the “Calypso Kid” in the USO. After the war, he returned to NYC and continued his singing career performing at calypso clubs in New York’s Harlem neighborhood. The Guidas moved to Norfolk in 1953 and opened Frankie’s Birdland, a popular record store featuring jazz, R&B and pop music records. Beyond that Frank was active in the local music scene promoting and managing musical acts and ultimately opening a series of recording studios. He had a Friday Night radio show on local station WLOW and hosted Frankie’s Jazz Workshop on WTOV-TV Channel 27. He owned several record labels including Legrand and S.P.Q.R. He was an advocate for the local and national Italian American community, a business leader, and at times an outspoken commentator of Norfolk’s City Council. For his work in promoting cultural and business ties between the United States and Italy, he was awarded the title of "Cavaliere" by the Italian Republic. After raising a family and living a fulfilling career in Norfolk Frank passed away on May 19, 2007. Millie passed the following year on March 20, 2008.
Frank Guida’s career as a hit-maker began in 1959 when he co-wrote the song “High School U.S.A.” with Joe Royster and recorded it with Tommy Facenda on vocals. The song reached #28 on the Billboard Hot 100 later that year. But it was the following year that Guida rose to greater notoriety as a producer with the release of “New Orleans” featuring Gary U.S. Bonds and which introduced Guida’s characteristic overmodulated sound to the world. “New Orleans” reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1960, and in 1961 Guida had his first #1 hit with “Quarter to Three” (Gary U.S. Bonds). Guida and Bonds had several more Billboard hits in 1961-1962. Guida again had a #1 hit in 1963 with “If You Wanna Be Happy” co-written by Joe Royster and Millie Guida and featuring Jimmy Soul on vocals. Frank's achievements in the arts, business, and cross-cultural endeavors made him a true Renaissance man, a description that would have pleased him given his life-long admiration of Leonardo DaVinci.
Note written by Madeline Dietrich
Language of Materials
The collection contains administrative documents, publications, articles, research materials, technical manuals, photographs, audio-visual items, and recording equipment in regard to Frank J. Guida, his community service, creative endeavors and his work in creating the “Norfolk Sound.” Most of the material dates from the 1960s to the 1980s.
The collection is arranged into ten series: Series I: Personal; Series II: Rockmasters International Network Inc.; Series III: Songs; Series IV: Certificates; Series V: Contracts; Series VI: Royalties; Series VII: Court Cases; Series VIII: Audiovisual; Series IX: Memorabilia; and Series X: Artifacts and Equipment.
Source of Acquisition
Gift of Rockmasters International Network, Inc., courtesy of the Guida children, Anne T. Kent, Lydia M. McHenry, and Joseph F. Guida
Method of Acquisition
Acc. 2017.012 was received by Special Collections and University from the donor via movers on 7/21/2017.
Collection was processed by Mona Farrow, Kathleen Smith, and Madeline Dietrich from July 2016 through May 2019.
- A Guide to the Frank and Carmela Guida/Rockmasters International Network, Inc. Collection
- Mona Farrow, Reading Room Supervisor and Kathleen Smith, Special Collections Metadata Specialist
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.