Hello, Tony Orlando was born Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis on April 3, 1944 in Manhattan, New York. Tony’s musical career started with The Five Gents, a doo-wop group he formed. When Tony was just 16 years old he was discovered by producer Don Kirshner. He signed a recording contract with Epic Records. In 1961 his first hit record made its Billboard Hot 100 debut.
On May 1, 1961 Tony hit recording of HALFWAY TO PARADISE made its debut. A big ballad with a full orchestra sound, the single on Epic Records climbed the Hot 100, reaching #39 and remaining on the chart for 8 weeks.
On August 14, 1961 his new record made its Billboard Hot 100 debut. This time he would climb to the upper levels of the Hot 100 with BLESS YOU, another song that featured Tony in a strong voice and singing a big ballad. The single charted at #15 and remained on the Hot 100 for 12 weeks. His follow-up charted in November of 1961, HAPPY TIMES (Are Here To Stay) reached #82 and remained on the Hot 100 for just 3 weeks.
Tony would continue to issue single records on Epic through 1963, none of them would chart on the Hot 100. His next hit record charted in September of 1969. Recording with the studio group Wind, which Tony sang lead, the song MAKE BELIEVE on Life Records climbed the Hot 100 to #28 and remained on the chart for 9 weeks.
His early years as a teen idol may have only produced a few hits but in 1979 he would be back with the super-group, Tony Orlando And Dawn. They would rule the charts from 1970-1979 and have hit after hit and million seller after million seller. They would also have a prime time TV variety show from 1974-1976.
Tony’s early sound was the “Brill Building” pop, sweet recordings that were treats for the ear. That sound was in huge demand in the early 1960’s. Tony’s early hits have been covered over the years by artists from Bobby Vinton and British pop star Billy Fury who had a #3 hit on the UK Singles Chart with HALFWAY TO PARADISE.