Salvo, a Phillips High School graduate, learned guitar from a friend while serving in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1953. He got his break performing for disc jockey Joe Rumore on tours around the state and in radio advertisements for Golden Eagle Syrup and Sunbeam Bread. He recorded two of his own compositions, "One Little Baby" and "Lonely Dreamer" in Rumore's basement recording studio which were released on the local Mark V label. He and his brother George shopped the 45s to record stores around the South and, through Rumore's connection, played a demo for Chet Atkins in Nashville. Atkins liked the record, but had a full stable at the time. When word got around that one of his records had sold 10,000 copies in Houston, Atkins called him back to sign a record deal with RCA Victor.
Salvo re-recorded his earlier songs in Nashville, as well as covers of the Crescendos "Oh Julie" and Wayne Handy's "Say Yeah", which ended up being his biggest hits. He performed "She Takes Sun Baths" on Dick Clark's American Bandstand on April 16, 1958 and was considered "on the brink of stardom". He even treated himself to a new Thunderbird from Jim Skinner Ford. On tour, Salvo fit the mold of popular singer Bobby Darin and drove around with a trunk-load of fan letters from admiring girls. One of them, Carol Park, inspired the song "Don’t Cast Your Spell on Me" (originally intended for Fats Domino to record). Despite the lyric's plea, he married Park in 1961.
After fulfilling his RCA contract, Salvo recorded for the Imperial, Dot, and Hickory labels. He performed his own compositions as well as songs by David Gates, Hank Williams, Roy Orbison. Meanwhile other performers, such as Jimmy Newman, made successful records from Salvo's compositions. He settled into the role of regional performer, headlining sock hops and dances around Northern Alabama.
After leaving behind his music career, Sammy and George opened SRA Foods which supplies meat to barbecue restaurants. Sammy Anselmo died in February 2020. He was survived by his daughter, Nancy, and son, Tony, and by nine grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.
- Whitelock, Edward (December 2010) "Sammy Salvo: Haunted by the Future." Oxford American
- "Sammy Salvatore Anselmo" obituary. Dignity Memorial - accessed February 8, 2020
- BRC Hall of Fame Bio: Sammy Salvo at birminghamrecord.com
- Sammy Salvo discography at rcs-discography.com