Bruno Radolini was a rock & roll and R&B singer and with a career spanning more than two decades. Emerging in the 1960s playing in a small, subterranean club in Trenton, N.J., he would cycle through a number of different genres over the years—usually with little success. A late sixties excursion into psychedelia gave way to an early seventies collaboration with the Temptations, followed by an unproductive foray into disco, and so on. Finally, after a contretemps with Elton John over the title of the song “Bruno and the Jets,” the singer simply disappeared. Aside from the occasional alleged sighting, his whereabouts would remain a mystery until 1987, when he resurfaced with a new album and an HBO special—both fittingly called The Return of Bruno.
Bruno Radolini was the alter ego of actor Bruce Willis, star of the 1980s TV dramedy Moonlighting and celebrity spokesman for Seagram’s wine coolers. Motown Records signed him based on his warbling Motown standards in Moonlighting in character as David Addison. (“Our feeling is it takes a good singer to pull off singing badly as well as Bruce does,” a Motown exec explained at the time.) The 1987 album The Return of Bruno and the accompanying HBO special recast him as the character of Bruno, with the latter encompassing a mockumentary and a performance video both featuring the character. The special was nominated for a 1988 Award for Cable Excellence while both the album and lead single “Respect Yourself” landed in the upper reaches of the charts. Willis released a second LP in 1989 but without the Bruno moniker.
The Return of Bruno (January 1987)
The Return of Bruno (HBO Special) [February 1987]