“Hello, The Regents are a doo-wop group from an area that has produced some of the best musical groups around, the Bronx, New York. Members included Guy Villari-lead vocals, Sal Cuomo, Chuck Fassert, Don Jacobucci and Tony “Hot Rod” Gravagna. They formed in 1958 as the Desires. An earlier version of the group featured Ernie Maresca, who would have a hit with “SHOUT, SHOUT KNOCK YOURSELF OUT”. They recorded demos at various studios and were signed by Seville Records as the Desires. None of the songs they recorded were released, until the group had success in 1961 as The Regents.
On May 15, 1961 The Regents made their Billboard Hot 100 debut with a song that would become a rock and roll classic, “BARBARA-ANN” on Gee Records. The single was on every radio in the country, it was that popular. The Regents hit climbed the Hot 100 to #13 and remained on the chart for two and a half months. The “B” side of the record was “I’M SO LONELY”, it did not chart. The record also was a big hit on the R&B chart, as it reached #7.
On July 10,1961 a follow-up single made its debut. “RUNAROUND” was a good record for the group, charting at #28 on the Hot 100 and #30 on the R&B chart. There would be no other charted hits for the group and after releasing two more singles, they disbanded . Royalty dispute with the label is the reported reason.
The record nearly went without release. With nothing happening to their demos the group broke up in 1959. A group called the Consorts did not have an original song for an audition, so they recorded their version of “Barbara-Ann”. The owner of Cousins Records heard the recording and decided to release the original version by The Regents. The original Regents reunited and Cousins Records released “Barbara-Ann”. The record became a huge hit in New York and Cousins leased it to Gee Records for worldwide distribution.
In 1995 a new group of The Regents was formed with Guy Villari leading the group. In 1966 The Beach Boys did a cover version of “Barbara-Ann” on Capitol Records with Dean Torrence (of Jan & Dean) singing lead vocal. The Beach Boys version just missed the top of the Billboard Hot 100 as it was the #2 song in the U.S.A. The Regents only had a couple of hits, but yet their place in rock and roll history is secure, with their classic hit “Barbara-Ann”.