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“The Elegants – Little Star”

“The Elegants – Little Star”

The Elegants is an American doo-wop vocal group, that was started in 1958 by Vito Picone, Arthur Venosa, Frank Tardogno, Carmen Romano and James Mochella in South Beach, Staten Island, New York. Before their nursery rhyme inspired song, “Little Star”,[1] became a number one hit, the band usually performed informally under the boardwalk by their homes. “Little Star” was the only million seller for the group, and was written by Venosa and Picone.[2] It spent 19 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100, earning gold disc status.[2]
The song reached number 25 in the UK Singles Chart in September 1958.[3]

After their success with “Little Star”, the band, still in their teens, toured with artists such as Buddy Holly, Dion and the Belmonts, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. However, none of their subsequent singles reached the charts at all making them a prime example of one-hit wonders.

In early 1970s, lead singer Picone returned to the group replacing Tardogno as the lead singer. That group comprising Vito Picone, Freddie Redmond, Nino Amato and Bruce Copp have been together ever since and to this date, have not stopped touring. They can be seen annually performing at the San Gennaro Festival, in Little Italy, Manhattan, New York City.

According to the Elegants website, Freddie Redmond died of emphysema in 2006, and was replaced by original member, James Moschella. As of 2012, the Elegants are still performing at concerts and events throughout the United States, under the name “Vito Picone & The Elegants”. They still perform “Little Star”, as well as their interpretations of many golden oldies. The Elegants band consists of Mike Catalano on bass guitar, Joe Lucenti on lead guitar, Mark Garni on keyboards and Sal Albanese on drums.

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“The Penguins – Memories Of El Monte”

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“Memories of El Monte”

is a metasong released in 1963 by the Penguins featuring Cleve Duncan. It was written by Frank Zappa and Ray Collins before they were in the Mothers of Invention. The song was first released as Original Sound 27.[2]

Composition

In 1960, Art Laboe released one of the first oldies compilations, Memories of El Monte, a collection of songs by bands that used to play at the dances Laboe organized at El Monte Legion Stadium in El Monte, California.[3]

At some point in the next few years, Ray Collins visited Frank Zappa at his house at 314 W. G Street in Ontario, California (34.070685°N 117.653339°W).[4] Frank told him that he and a friend had thought of writing a song entitled “Memories of El Monte.” Ray had been to the dances at El Monte Legion Stadium and had played there with tenor saxophonist Chuck Higgins. Ray sat down at Frank’s piano, played the “Earth Angel” chord changes and immediately came up with the first lyrics for “Memories of El Monte.”

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Frank Zappa took the song to Art Laboe, who loved it. Laboe came up with the idea of adding a section that named doo-wop groups and having the Penguins impersonate their songs.[3] The song functions as a de facto advertisement for the collection Memories of El Monte when it references songs on the compilation.

“Memories of El Monte” was recorded at Paul Buff’s Pal Recording Studio in Cucamonga, California in 1963.[5] The song was copyrighted on February 20, 1963.[6]

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“ROBERT & JOHNNY – WE BELONG TOGETHER”

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We Belong Together” was a 1958 American rhythm and blues hit written and recorded by Robert & Johnny, with a co-writing credit to Hy Weiss. It reached #12 on the R&B charts and #32 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Cover versions

The song was later recorded by several others. The Fleetwoods released a version on their 1959 album, Mr. Blue.

A rendition by Ritchie Valens was released in 1959 on the Del-Fi record label and can be found on several of his albums. It’s also featured in a scene from the 1987 hit film about Valens, La Bamba in which the song was sung by Los Lobos.

The Belmonts released a remake on the Laurie label, Laurie 3080, in 1961, after they had split with Dion. It was not a hit, but was later reissued on a collector’s label because of its musical value.

In 1961, Jimmy Mullins, known as Jimmy Velvit,[1] recorded it in the Dallas, Texas area. It was issued in January, 1962 on M-G-M’s Cub Records label (K9105). It attracted a lot of attention and air-play and became the #1 song on the Dallas radio station, KLIF, for a period of six weeks.

A different singer, Jimmy Tennant, using the name Jimmy Velvet, had a #75 hit with the song on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964.[2] Tennant had initially recorded and released the song on his own Velvet label (co-owned with Ray Curran) in April, 1963 (Velvet 201-63), using the same name Mullins was using, Jimmy Velvit. That same issue was briefly re-issued in August, 1963 on the Cortland label’s Witch Records subsidiary (#115) in an effort to take the Velvet Records release to a national level. Tennant used another song from the session, “I’m Gonna Try” as the flip side of both releases, the same song the earlier Jimmy Velvit (Jimmy Mullins) had used on his 1962 Cub version. That song had been written by Mullins. The hit release (as by Jimmy Velvet) on ABC-Paramount 10488 used “History Of Love” (recorded at the same April session) as the flip side, which was first issued by November, 1963.[3]

Peaches & Herb included the song on their album, Let’s Fall In Love.

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“Sherry”

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Sherry

” is a song written by Bob Gaudio and recorded by The Four Seasons

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Song information

According to Gaudio, the song took about 15 minutes to write and was originally titled “Jackie Baby” (in honor of then-First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy).[1] In a 1968 interview, Gaudio said that the song was inspired by the earlier song “Hey! Baby”.[2]

At the studio, the name was changed to “Terri Baby”, and eventually to “Sherry”, the name of the daughter of Gaudio’s best friend, New York DJ Jack Spector. One of the names that Gaudio pondered for the song was “Peri Baby,” which was the name of the record label for which Bob Crewe worked, named after the label owner’s daughter.

The single’s B-side was “I’ve Cried Before”. Both tracks were included in the group’s subsequent album release, Golden Hits of the 4 Seasons (1963).[3]

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Ben E. King/The Drifters – Spanish Harlem

Ben E. King/The Drifters – Spanish Harlem

featured image: http://www.allmusic.com/

“Spanish Harlem” is a song released by Ben E. King in 1960 on Atco Records, written by Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector, and produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. During a 1968 interview, Leiber credited Stoller with the arrangement;[1] similarly, in a 2009 radio interview with Leiber and Stoller on the Bob Edwards Weekend talk show, Jerry Leiber said that Stoller, while uncredited, had written the key instrumental introduction to the record.[citation needed] In the team’s autobiography from the same year, Hound Dog, Stoller himself remarks that he had created this “fill” while doing a piano accompaniment when the song was presented to Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records, with Spector playing guitar and Leiber doing the vocal. “Since then, I’ve never heard the song played without that musical figure.[1] I presumed my contribution was seminal to the composition, but I also knew that Phil didn’t want to share credit with anyone but Jerry, so I kept quiet.”

It was originally released as the B-side to “First Taste of Love”.[2] The song was King’s first hit away from The Drifters, a group he had led for several years. With an arrangement by Stan Applebaum featuring Spanish guitar, marimba, drum-beats, soprano saxophone, strings, and a male chorus, it climbed the Billboard charts, eventually peaking at #15 R&B and #10 Pop.[3] It was ranked #358 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[4] King’s version was not a hit in the UK: instead, the original A-side, “First Taste of Love”, that was played on Radio Luxembourg, charting at #27.[5] In 1987, after Stand By Me made #1, the song was re-released and charted at #92.

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“Sixteen Candles”

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The Crests

were an American doo-wop group, formed by bass vocalist J. T. Carter in the mid-1950s. Their most popular song, ”

16 Candles

“, rose to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1959, selling over one million copies, earning a gold disc.[1] The interracial group had three African American members (one female), one Puerto Rican, and one Italian American.

Career

Founded by J.T. Carter, the group included Talmadge Gough, Harold Torres and Patricia Vandross (sister of R&B singer Luther Vandross). Carter selected vocalist Johnny Mastrangelo (shortened to Johnny Mastro and later to Johnny Maestro) as lead vocalist. Maestro’s vocal style became instantly recognizable, and a jukebox favorite of national teen audiences. His quality vocals, great song selections and recordings, with dance-easy beats, made for charted hits. The group had several Top 40 hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s on Coed Records, including the #2 hit, “16 Candles”, “Six Nights a Week”, “The Angels Listened In”, “A Year Ago Tonight”, “Step By Step” and “Trouble in Paradise.” They also charted with “Sweetest One” (Joyce Records) in 1957. In the late 1950s the group performed on several national teen dance television shows, including American Bandstand and The Dick Clark Show.

After recording two singles for Joyce Records, Vandross left The Crests in 1958. Maestro left for a solo career in 1961. He recorded with other backup singers under the name Johnny Maestro & The Crests, producing a single for United Artists in 1962, two singles for Cameo Records in 1963-64, a single for APT Records in 1965, a single for Scepter Records in 1965 and three singles for the Parkway label in 1966. He later joined The Del Satins as their lead singer. They merged with The Rhythm Method in March 1968 to become Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge. In 1969 they had a #3 hit with “The Worst That Could Happen”. The Crests recorded a new single, “Little Miracles”, with Tony Middleton singing lead. It was the first single not to chart in the Top 100. James Ancrum then took over the lead, recording “Guilty” (Selma Records) and several other songs. Gough quit the group after the single, and was replaced by Gary Lewis (not to be confused with Gary Lewis of Gary Lewis & the Playboys fame). Subsequently, the group failed to find success throughout the decade.[2]

By the late 1960s Torres was gone. The group continued until 1978 as a trio of Carter, Ancrum and Lewis, when the group split. Carter went on to sing with Charlie Thomas’ Drifters.

Carter reformed the group in 1980, auditioning over 200 singers, finally settling on lead Bill Damon, Greg Sereck, Dennis Ray and New York drummer Jon Ihle. The group continued well into the 1990s. Carter sold the trademark to The Crests’ name to Tommy Mara in the late 1990s. Mara was Carter’s lead vocalist at the time, and now continues the group without Carter.

Carter has had a new level of recognition in recent times. On November 12, 2013, he was recognized on the Pennsylvania State House Floor by Speaker of the House, The Honorable Sam Smith and State Representative Rosemary M. Brown for a lifetime in music and as the first African American to form an interracial vocal group in the United States.[3] In 2013 Carter also appeared on the 1st Annual Palisades Park Reunion concert with Cousin Brucie aka Bruce Morrow,[4] broadcast live on SiriusXM satellite radio. Other performers included Neil Sedaka, Lesley Gore, Bobby Lewis and Ronnie Spector. In January 2014 Carter interviewed Joe Franklin on the Bloomberg Radio network. Carter is still performing throughout the US and Canada, at age 74. As of 2012, publicist Erik A. Kroll,[5] is accredited with Carter’s recent popularity and the music of The Crests reborn.[3][6][7][8][9] In 2014, Carter began production on American Classics, The Stars, Music and Cars, a TV show featuring the music and cars of the 1950s and 1960s, produced by Emmy Awards winner Ashley Russo.[10] In March of 2015 Carter was accepted as a member in The Recording Academy aka the Grammys.

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Posted by on July 10, 2017 in 1960s, guy groups, nostalgic

 

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“Shep & the Limelites – Daddy’s Home”

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Shep and the Limelites was an American doo-wop group of the early 1960s,[1] composed of James “Shep” Sheppard (September 24, 1935 – January 24, 1970), Clarence Bassett (March 13, 1936 – January 25, 2005) and Charles Baskerville (July 6, 1936 – January 18, 1995). They are best known for their 1961 hit recording, “Daddy’s Home”, co-written by Sheppard.

Career

Sheppard and Bassett, both from Queens County, New York, and Baskerville, originally from Virginia, organized a group in Queens in 1960. This was billed initially as Shane Sheppard And The Limelites, but quickly became Shep and the Limelites. All three had previous experience in other groups: Shep with The Heartbeats (notable for “A Thousand Miles Away”); Bassett with The Five Sharps and then, with Baskerville, in The Videos.[1]

Shep & The Limelites’ recording sessions for Hull Records started in August 1960. They recorded the original version of “Daddy’s Home” on February 1, 1961. “Daddy’s Home” reached no. 2 on the Billboard popular music chart in May,[1] and was covered by P J Proby (1970) Jermaine Jackson (1972), Toots and the Maytals (Funky Kingston 1973), Junior English, and Cliff Richard (1981). Later songs were not as successful as “Daddy’s Home”, but still sold well; among these were “What Did Daddy Do”, “Ready For Your Love” and “Our Anniversary”.[2]

Kahl Music, publisher of “A Thousand Miles Away”, an earlier song written by Sheppard, sued Keel Music, publisher of “Daddy’s Home”, for copyright violation. Keel eventually lost, and this resulted in the end of the Limelites and Hull Records in 1966. Bassett joined The Flamingos and Baskerville joined The Players and then The Drifters.[1] Sheppard re-formed the Limelites in the late 1960s, but was murdered on January 24, 1970.[1] He died in his car on the Long Island Expressway as a result of injuries sustained in a robbery.[2][3] Baskerville died, at age 58 on January 18, 1995 in New York.[4] Bassett died on January 25, 2005, at age 68 from the complications of emphysema, at his home in Richmond, Virginia.[5]

James Sheppard’s legacy includes the composing of rock ‘n’ roll’s first song cycle. Writing songs for both the Heartbeats and Shep and the Limelites, he tells the story of going home to his girl, with twists along the way, getting married, and celebrating their anniversary. The songs that told this story were “A Thousand Miles Away”, “500 Miles to Go”, both with the Heartbeats; and then “Daddy’s Home”, “Three Steps from the Altar,” “Our Anniversary”, and “What Did Daddy Do?” for Shep and the Limelites.[6]

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