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Biography of The Fireflies

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Introduction to The Fireflies

The Fireflies were a 50s music-era American doo-wop/R&B vocal group whose career lasted ten years (about 1957-1967). As to where they were formed is still a matter of uncertainty. Some sources say that they started in Long Island, New York; others cite that they hailed from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The group, the brainchild of producer Gerry Granahan, underwent many personnel changes, with Ritchie Adams being the most prominent member although he wasn’t the founder nor the leader. But Adams was the one who sang lead on the Fireflies’ only Top 40 hit in 1959, “You Were Mine” (released on Ribbon Records). The lineup at that time the song became a hit included Adams, Paul Giacalone, Lee Reynolds, John Viscelli and Carl Girosli. Their only other charting single was “I Can’t Say Goodbye” which reached the lower ranks of the Hot 100 in 1960, virtually making the group a one-hit wonder. The Fireflies continued performing until 1967.

Formation and early years

The Fireflies were a doo-wop who formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (though some sources say in Long Island, New York) in 1957.  They were the brainchild of singer-songwriter and producer Gerry Granahan.

The original line-up composed of Paul Giacalone, Ritchie Adams, Lee Reynolds, John Viscelli and Carl Girosli. The doo-wop group went through several personnel changes throughout the course of their career, which lasted about a decade.

Music career

In 1958, The Fireflies signed a recording contract with Roulette Records where they debuted with “The Crawl” which failed to hit the charts. However, their single on Ribbon Records, “You Were Mine” became a success, peaking at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959. Granahan and The Perone Sisters contributed back-up vocals for the hit single. Due to the ballad’s success, vocal group The Paulette Sisters later issued an answer record for “You Were Mine” entitled “I Was Yours.”

The Fireflies’ follow-up single, “I Can’t Say Goodbye” was released in June 1960. Even though it was not as successful as the first record, it still managed to chart on lower ranks of the Hot 100. The Fireflies continued to release other singles which never made any commercial impact, including “Marianne” and “My Girl.” The group returned in 1962 with the tracks “You Were Mine for Awhile” and “Blacksmith Blues.” Subsequently, they issued three follow-up singles on Hamilton Records but none of them charted.

The Fireflies disbanded in 1967 and each of the members went on their own separate ways.  Adams pursued a solo singing career; he also later became a successful songwriter. Granahan scored his own solo hit around the same year The Fireflies achieved their only Top 40 smash.

On June 27, 2013, Paul Giacalone died of cancer at the age of 73. Giacalone penned both of the Fireflies hits.

John Viscelli, one of the founding members of the Fireflies, still lives in South Florida.

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