Singing star and 'proud Sheffield lad' who became a household name dies at home in Spain

A singing star who grew up in the Yorkshire coal mining community and went on to become an international household name in the 50s and 60s has died at home in Marbella aged 88.

By Lloyd Bent
Thursday, 6th May 2021, 8:10 pm

Toni Dalli moved to South Yorkshire in the late 1940s, aged 17, having been born in Pescara, Italy. He started work as a Bevin Boy in the mines and later in the steelworks.

However, his true passion came to light in the evenings at Sheffield’s working men’s clubs, where is voice earned him the attention of talent spotters Percy Livington and Roy Holstein.

After his required four years in the steelworks, his professional singing career took off as he moved to London. By the 1950s he was regularly performing in television in the UK and on the Ed Sullivan Show, at the Hollywood Bowl, in Las Vegas and at the Carnegie Hall in New York.

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Toni Dalli (left) with Tommy Steele and Sergio Franchi in 1965. Photo provided by Marco Dalli.

He recorded albums that went on to be best sellers with major record labels EMI and Decca, hosted his own TV show in America and toured globally, but he never forgot his Sheffield beginnings, his family said.

Toni’s son Marco said: “My father had many friends around the world and he has been everywhere while performing, but he always regarded himself as a Sheffield boy, even if he came from Italy.

“He was so proud about it and he spoke with a mix of Italian and northern English accent. It was funny to hear.

Tony Dalli in later years. Photo provided by Marco Dalli.

"He would always say ‘I am a proud Sheffield lad’ and it's no coincidence that I have friends from Sheffield myself.

“They showed me round the old working men’s clubs where my father first started to preform.

"He was loved by everybody and the response to his passing has been unbelievable.”

In later life, Toni moved to Marbella and opened up a hugely successful restaurant called The Golden Mile, where Jimmy Tarbuck and Sean Connery would regularly be spotted.

Toni, who was born Antonio D'Alessandro, was also a keen golfer and would drive around the Andalucia area of Spain in his Ferrari.

A ‘passionate family man’, Toni died on April 28. He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years Valerie, as well as his sons Marco, Simon and Nicholas.