60s Music

Dion and the Belmonts

Dion and the Belmonts
Photo of Dion and The Belmonts from the magazine Hit Parader from September 1960. (Source: Wikipedia)

 

Introduction to Dion and the Belmonts

Dion and The Belmonts joined forces to be one of the leading American vocal acts in 1958-1960. The Belmonts are an Italian-American doo-wop group originating from Bronx, New York consisting of Fred Milano, Angelo D’Aleo, and Carlo Mastrangelo. Their name was based on the place they lived, Belmont Avenue. Dion DiMucci, also of Italian extract, is an American singer-songwriter who would have a distinguished career on his own after the Belmonts, simply as Dion. Together, Dion and The Belmonts scored charting singles such as “I Wonder Why”, “No One Knows”, “When You Wish upon a Star”, and their biggest hits “A Teenager in Love” and “Where or When.” Their partnership soon soured due to Dion’s dependence on drugs (particularly heroin), financial issues and musical differences. DiMucci moved away from the Delmonts to have a successful solo career. They reunited briefly in the mid-1960s, with their singles faring a lot better in the UK than in their native country. Dion, once known as a teen idol during the 50s music era, resurrected his lost luster when he recorded one of his famous songs “Abraham, Martin and John” in 1968. Dion has been regarded as one of the 20th century’s most influential artists. Dion and the Belmonts were inducted in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2000.

 

Dion and the Belmonts’ early years

Dion and the Belmonts were one of the outstanding American vocal groups during in the late 1950’s who made chart hits like “I Wonder Why,” “No One Knows” and “A Teenager in Love.”. Formed in 1957 in Bronx, New York City, the four-piece group composed of lead singer Dion DiMucci (born July 18, 1939), first tenor Angelo D’Aleo (born February 3, 1940), second tenor Fred Milano (b. August 22, 1939, d. January 1, 2012) and bass-baritone Carlo Mastrangelo (born October 5, 1938). The Belmonts were already active in the music business when DiMucci joined the group.

 

 

 

 

Dion and the Belmonts recording journey

Dion and the Belmonts began recording in for the two labels Mohawk Records and Jubilee Records but the singles for these labels did not sell well. In 1958 they switched to Laurie Records where they experienced their first breakthrough successes with hit singles “I Wonder Why” (#22 on the Billboard Hot 100). They earned their first TV guesting on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Dion and the Belmonts made other hits 1958 with “No One Knows” and “Don’t Pity Me” peaking at #19 at #40 respectively. In 1959, they issued the single “A Teenager in Love” that would be considered as one of the greatest rock and roll songs. It registered at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it made to the UK singles charts at #28 as well. Later that year, Dion and the Belmonts broke through with their biggest hit “Where or When,” ranking at #3 on the Billboard Hot chart that also earned them an appearance on American Bandstand. The following singles in 1960, “Wish upon a Star” and “In the Still of the Night” made to the Top 40 of the Billboard charts at #30 and #38 respectively.

 

Drifting apart and their reunion

Dion was said to be drug-dependent even during the Belmonts’ heyday. In early 1960, while “When and When” was scaling the charts, he had been confined into the hospital when his addiction to heroin went overboard. That was also the point when there was clash between Dion and the members of the Belmonts regarding financial and musical differences. Eventually, the vocal group disbanded. Dion went to have a successful solo career with hit such as “Runaround Sue,” “Lovers Who Wander,” “Ruby Baby,” and “Abraham, Martin and John,” the last hit being Dion’s successful attempt to depart from his teen-idol image.

However in late 1966, Dion and the Belmonts reunited to record several songs for the album Together Again. The record was produced by DiMont Music. The group once again shared the stage on June 2, 1972 held at the Madison Square Garden. It was soon released as a live album distributed by Warner Brothers. It was followed by another reunion held at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, New York.

Dion alone was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, while Dion and the Belmonts were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2000. However, the entire group was omitted from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2012 which left some questions among fans and music insiders.

 

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