Here’s a little-known fact: Joe Pesci started out not as an actor, but a singer. Under the name Joe Ritchie, he cut his first album in 1968, a collection of lounge songs (including some jazzy Beatles covers) that failed to launch him to singing stardom. But 30 years later, after his acting career peaked with Goodfellas, My Cousin Vinny, and Casino, Pesci decided to give singing another shot. Not only that: He decided to do it in the persona of his Vinny character.
Vincent Laguardia Gambini Sings Just for You was released on Columbia Records in 1998, far too late to cash in on the 1992 hit film about a New York lawyer trying to win his first case in rural Alabama. But the ultimate reason it flopped is that it is terrible. It’s so bad that (according to the impressive Howard Stern Show archives at SternSuperFan.com) Howard Stern turned down an interview with Pesci rather than agree to play any of his songs on the air. Vincent Laguardia Gambini Sings Just for You must have fallen into the category of “funny-bad” if the lyrics weren’t so resoundingly offensive. The worst example of both is “Wise Guy,” Pesci’s attempt at gangsta rap, in which he brags, among other things, about murdering beautiful women. If you’re dying to hear Joe Pesci rap, you can listen to it here, though I’d advise against it. (Also, if the real cousin Vinny talked like that, Mona Lisa Vito would leave him in a heartbeat.)
A more tolerable listen: Pesci’s cover of “What a Wonderful World,” which he has inexplicably chosen to sing without the title phrase. Check it out below.