DION AND THE BELMONTS–“A TEENAGER IN LOVE”

Hello,  Dion and The Belmonts in 1959 already had three big national hits under their belts.  They were so popular that you couldn’t turn your AM radio on without hearing one of their hits.  Hits, oh yes they were hits, songs like the classic, “I WONDER WHY”, “NO ONE KNOWS” and “DON’T PITY ME”, had spent 41 total weeks on the Billboard Top 100 in 1958.  They were frequent guests on TV and their music was not only popular with the pop market, but was also popular in the R&B and Doo-Wop genre’s.

On April 20. 1959 their biggest hit to date entered the Billboard Hot 100.  “A TEENAGER IN LOVE” written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman and given that special Dion and The Belmonts treatment, began its dash up the national chart and before the smoke could clear, they had the #5 record in America.  “A Teenager In Love” remained on the Hot 100 for 15 weeks.  It is considered one of the greatest songs in Rock and Roll History.  It has since be selected by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the songs that helped shape rock and roll.  The song is about a teenager, who, one day is happy, the next day feels so bad and asks the question, “why must I be a teenager in love”.  Dion’s voice with all of its feelings and emotion, sells the song, as if you were singing it yourself in your teenage years.  The Belmonts are wonderful with their harmony, the record is a complete success.

On the “B” side of Dion and The Belmonts hit is a good ballad, that receives air-play in some markets, but because of the success of the “A” side it pretty much goes un-noticed by radio, but not buy the record buying public.  That song is “I’VE CRIED BEFORE” and in it Dion’s distinctive voice sings of the pain he is feeling over a failed love and how he has cried, but he’s gonna cry some more.  “I’ve Cried Before” did not chart, but it’s as good as any ballad the group recorded for Laurie Records.

There would be more hits in 1959 and into 1960, then Dion would pursue a solo career that is still going strong into 2011.  “A Teenager In Love”, maybe it was so popular because it dealt with the pain a teenager feels, the ups and the downs, or maybe it was the way Dion and The Belmonts, just flat-out sang the song.  One thing is for sure, this million-seller is a huge part of the “Golden Era Of Rock And Roll” and a song that has long been a favorite of oldies radio and the generation that first made it a hit.

SEE A VIDEO OF DION AND THE BELMONTS ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE.

Till the next time—Joe

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THE CRESTS–“16 CANDLES”

Hello,  Johnny Maestro and The Crests are one of legendary vocal groups from the 1950’s rock era.  If you grew up in the late 50s your radio for sure played its share of The Crests many hits.  This fabulous vocal group that first recorded for Joyce Records in 1957 added a young lead singer of Italian-American decent in 1956, he of course was the great Johnny Maestro.  The band was founded by J.T. Carter and included Talmoudge Gough, Harold Torres and Patricia VanDross, she was the older sister of R&B great Luther Vandross.  She left the group in 1958.  Carter selected a young vocalist Johnny Mastrangelo to sing lead.  His vocal style on the group’s recordings, became the trademark of The Crests.  Their recordings became favorites with the teenage market and Johnny’s fabulous vocals, with a good dance beat made for a winning combination.

The Crests first hit for Coed Records was one of the most memorable records of the late 1950’s.  On November 24, 1958 The Crests recording of “16 CANDLES” made its Billboard Top 100 debut.  By early 1959 the song had risen to #2 in America.  “16 Candles” remained on the Top 100 for 21 weeks, that’s over five months.  The single sold over 1 million copies, and was awarded a “Gold Record”.  The record did not only chart on the pop chart but on January 12, 1959 it became a Billboard R&B hit.  “16 Candles”, remained on the R&B chart for 11 weeks and climbed all the way to #4.

On the “B” side of the record was the ballad, “BESIDE YOU”, again showcasing the great vocal of Johnny Maestro.  “Beside You” did not chart, probably because “16 Candles” was in very heavy play rotation all across the country.  Those are the chart facts of one of the most popular hits of the rock era.  Some other facts, that are not on the chart…”16 Candles” is also a Doo-Wop classic and listed as one of the all time greatest Doo-Wop hits by Gribin/Schiff in their must read Doo-Wop book, “The Complete Book Of Doo-Wop”.  In 1984, the teen movie, “Sixteen Candles” took its title from The Crests song.  The song was re-recorded by The Stray Cats for the “Sixteen Candles” soundtrack.  The Crests hit has appeared on more computation albums than you can count.

In 2000 The Crests were inducted into the United in Group Harmony Association Hall of Fame.  In 2004 they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.  They would have many other hit records between 1958 and 1961.  Johnny Maestro left in 1960 to begin a solo career.  Later he would become the voice of  The Brooklyn Bridge and have several hits with them.  Johnny passed away in March of 2010 at the age of 70.  He may be gone but, he lives on through his music and in the hearts and memories of those who were fortunate enough to see him perform…a musical legacy that will continue for all time.

THERE IS ONE IMPORTANT PIECE OF WORK LEFT TO DO, ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME, INDUCT JOHNNY MAESTRO INTO THE HALL…WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM…..DO IT!!!! MAN, HE DESERVES IT…

Till the next time—Joe

TRIVIA TEASER-256

Hi,  The answer to yesterday’s question is:  Bertie Higgins charted his #8 Billboard Hot 100 hit of “KEY LARGO” in November of 1981, the song sold over a million copies and was awarded a “Gold Record”.

Today’s Trivia Teaser question is:  In 1972 Folk singer/songwriter, Arlo Guthrie, the son of legendary folk artist Woody Guthrie, charted a #18 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.  Can you name the song?

Leave your answer in the comment box or check back tomorrow for the answer.

Till the next time—Joe

ETTA JAMES–“AT LAST”

Hello,  I really enjoy listening to the music of the great Etta James.  She has graced the Billboard music charts since 1955, when her first hit record “THE WALLFLOWER” on Modern Records, became a #1 R&B hit.  She was born Jamesetta Hawkins on January 25, 1938 in Los Angeles, California.  Etta has charted 30 R&B hit records, 13 of them are Top 10 hits.  She has also charted 33 hits on the Billboard pop chart.

On January 16, 1961 her classic recording of “AT LAST” on Argo Records, entered both the Billboard R&B chart and the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  “At Last” is a 1941 song written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the musical film “Orchestra Wives” starring George Montgomery and Ann Rutherford.  The song was first performed in the film and on record by Glenn Miller and his orchestra, with vocal by Ray Eberle and Pat Friday.  “At Last” became a #9 hit for Glenn Miller in 1942.  Etta James has the ultimate version of this classic song.  Her hit climbed the R&B chart to #2 and remained on the hit list for 13 weeks.  It charted at #47 on the Hot 100 and remained on the chart for two months.  The single sold over 1 million copies and Etta was awarded a “Gold Record”.  The “B” side of her record was “I JUST WANT TO MAKE LOVE TO YOU”, it did not chart.  Etta James’ version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

In the decades since its release, the song has been covered by a number of artists.  The Etta James version is the most famous and is still played on oldies radio stations.  It is also one of the most popular wedding songs of all time because of its romantic lyrics and outstanding orchestration.  Celine Dion did a cover on her 2002 album. “A New Day Has Come”, her version charted at #16 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  Beyonce also covered “At Last” and it was included on the “Cadillac Records: Music From The Motion Picture”.  In the film Beyonce plays the role of Etta James.  Others who have covered the song are: Nat King Cole-1957, Judy Garland-1964, Doris Day-1965, Michael Bolton-2004 and a host of others.

Etta James who was nicknamed “Miss Peaches” also record duets with Harvey Fuqua of The Moonglows as Etta & Harvey.  She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and won a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2003.  Her classic hits, include: THE WALLFLOWER-1955, GOOD ROCKIN’ DADDY-1955, ALL I COULD DO WAS CRY-1960, MY DEAREST DARLING-1960, SOMETHING’S GOT A HOLD ON ME-1962, PUSHOVER-1963, TELL MAMA-1967 (A ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME SONG) AND MANY, MANY OTHERS.

She is one of the very best R&B singers of all-time and is a precious part of the music and the times we call the “Golden Era Of Rock And Roll”.  A national treasure………..THE GREAT……..ETTA JAMES.

Till the next time—Joe

THE SLADES–THE SHIELDS–“YOU CHEATED”

Hello,  Two groups The Slades and The Shields had big hits with a classic hit from 1958.  The Slades were a doo-wop trio from Austin, Texas, members included Don Burch-lead, Bobby Doyle, Tommy Kaspar and John Goeke.  Jimmy Davis was added to their second recording, which was there only Billboard Top 100 hit.  On August 4, 1958 The Slades hit of “YOU CHEATED” on Domino Records entered the pop chart.  The Slades version of the song is the original version.  “You Cheated” climbed the Top 100 and reached #42 just missing the Top 40, it remained on the chart for 12 weeks.  The “B” side of their hit was a tune entitled “THE WADDLE”, it did not chart.  The Slades would not have another charted hit record as many follow-up recordings sold as well as their hit.  Domino Records was a small label that didn’t have the distribution of the larger labels, making it hard to get their records to DJ’s for radio rotation and to record shops for retail sales.

The Shields were an R&B group formed by Los Angeles producer George Motola to cover The Slades original version of “You Cheated”.  Members were Frankie Ervin-lead, the great Jesse Belvin, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Mel Williams and Buster Williams.  Ervin sang lead for Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers from 1953-1955.  Jesse Belvin had hit records with “GOODNIGHT MY LOVE” which he co-wrote, in 1956, “GUESS WHO” in 1957.  He is a co-writer of The Penguins classic, “EARTH ANGEL”.  On August 25, 1958 The Shields version of “You Cheated” made it Billboard Top 100 debut, just three weeks after The Slades version.  The Shields cover was released on Dot Records, so there was no problem with distribution.  Their version climbed the Top 100 to #12 and remained on the chart for 16 weeks.  On September 1, 1958, a week after charting on the Top 100, The Shields debuted on the Billboard R&B chart.  The record climbed to #11 and remained on the chart for two months.

The Shields would not chart any other hit records.  Jesse Belvin died in a car accident in 1960, at the age of 26.  Johnny “Guitar” Watson, passed away in 1996 at the age of 61.  Two very good groups, that had a hit with a classic love song, bringing back memories of the late 1950’s, memories etched in your mind, from the “Golden Era Of Rock And Roll”.

SEE A VIDEO OF THE SHIELDS AND THE SLADES ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE.

Till the next time—Joe

TRIVIA TEASER-255

Hi,  Thanks for stopping by today.  The answer to yesterday Trivia Teaser question is: “WHITE BUCKS AND SADDLE SHOES” was Robert John’s first hit record in 1958 on Big Top Records, recorded under the name, Bobby Pedrick, Jr.  His birth name is Robert John Pedrick.  The Jr. was added because he was 12 years old in 1958.

Today’s question is:  In 1981 this Florida native, who was a drummer with Tommy Roe from 1964-1966, charted the Top 10 hit, “KEY LARGO”, can you name him?

Leave your anser in the comment box or check back tomorrow for the answer.

Till the next time—Joe

RONNIE AND THE SATELLITES–“LAST NIGHT I DREAMED”–“BUNNY LEE”

Hello,  I’m proud to write this post on a group that has been making music, both on record and live on stage for over 50 years.  Ronnie And The Satellites recorded their first hit in 1959 with their classic “LAST NIGHT I DREAMED”.  In 1958, Ronnie Dee, Ron Grenier, George Tootell, Joe Fiske and Gary Sabourin formed their legendary group.  They practiced at a local Rhode Island park in an outdoor gazebo, creating a natural “echo” effect and enhanced their sound.  In less than a year the group recorded their first hit, “Last Night I Dreamed”.  The recording was made at Ace Recording Studios in Boston, Mass., in May of 1959.  In the fall of 1960 they were back in the studio and recorded two of their class sides, “BLUE MOON” and “BUNNY LEE”.

Now how many doo-wop groups or in fact, how many artists can claim to have a #1 record in Turkey?  Ronnie And The Satellites did.  The story goes that Ace Recording’s owner had a son in the U.S. Air Force stationed in Turkey.  He promoted the record and it became a #1 hit record.  Back in the US, the group performed with both local and national groups of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Some of the great artists they performed with are, Connie Francis, Dion and The Belmonts, Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, Link Wray and The Raymen, The Dimensions, The Skyliners, The Platters, The Videls and a host of others.

They made appearances on all the New England TV “dance parties”, that were similar to Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand”.  They would appear at two or three high school dances and other venues in the same night.  They also included a 5-piece backing band and on occasions even more.  After three very successful years, Ronnie And The Satellites disbanded in 1963.

Today the ORIGINAL, Ronnie And The Satellites are still performing and I highly recommend them to all of you who enjoy hit music, sung the way it should be……..GREAT, this group is what doo-wop and music from the “Golden Era Of Rock And Roll” is all about.  Check out their music on You Tube, both their original hits and “live performances” from today.

Till the next time—Joe

PS: RONNIE AND THE SATELLITES WILL BE APPEARING, MARCH 5, 2011  AT THE NEW ENGLAND DOOWOP SOCIETY PRESENTS, ROCK AND ROLL REVIVAL…SEE MY POST FOR MORE INFORMATION, ABOUT TIMES AND LOCATION…ALSO APPEARING WILL BE, THE EXCELLENTS-(“CONEY ISLAND BABY”) AND GREAT A CAPPELLA.