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The Belmonts

The history of the Belmonts is usually linked to that of their lead singer, Dion (born Dion DiMucci, July 18, 1939), with whom they had their biggest hits. In point of fact, however, the link up between Dion and the Belmonts actually lasted only two years, and the group existed (albeit briefly) prior to and a long after his time with them. Angelo D'Aleo (born February 3, 1940), first tenor; Fred Milano (born August 22, 1939), second tenor; and Carlo Mastrangelo (b. October 5, 1938), baritone; and Dion DiMucci were all friends from the area around Belmont Avenue in the Bronx, in N.Y.C. They attended Roosevelt High School and hung out together, and all of them sang; D'Aleo, Milano, and Mastrangelo began singing together and named themselves the Belmonts. As a trio, they recorded for the Mohawk label in 1957, making their debut with the song "Teenage Clementine," which came and went without notice. It was when Mastrangelo wrote a song of his own, "We Went Away," that was heard by Dion, that the quartet came together. It was recorded for Mohawk under the direction of conductor/arranger Hugo Montenegro (who had previously arranged an abortive debut single by Dion with a separate backing group), and the B-side got onto several local radio play lists.

The group moved to Laurie Records, newly founded by Bob Schwartz (who'd been a part-owner of Mohawk) and his brother Gene, and, with Dion as lead singer, cut their label debut with "I Wonder Why." The latter made it to number 22 on the pop charts, making them a hot act in New York and the Northeast. It was followed by a pair of hits, "No One Knows" and "Don't Pity Me," which peaked at 19 and 40, respectively. "A Teenager in Love" made number five, and further hits with "Where or When" and "When You Wish Upon a Star" elevated Dion & the Belmonts as a major national act. Dion DiMucci was clearly the star of the group, in presentation and billing, but the vocal talents of the group were displayed equally well, if not as prominently, on most of those hits and the tracks cut for their LPs. Their own musical tastes diverged somewhat from those of their lead singer, into jazz, pop ballads, and other areas, while Dion preferred harder rock & roll sounds and later gravitated toward blues.

In 1960, Dion decided to pursue a solo career and parted company with the Belmonts. The usual perception is that the group disappeared after this, but the truth is that the Belmonts continued to enjoy success for the first year after his departure. The trio remained with Laurie Records for one single, "We Belong Together," featuring Carlo Mastrangelo as lead singer, and then formed their own label -- originally named Surprise, and then Sabrina, it was finally christened Sabina Records when those two earlier choices proved to belong to other companies. The label became active (as Surprise) in March of 1961 with the recording of "Tell Me Why," which rose to number 18 nationally. The follow-up record late that summer, "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," rose to a modest number 57, and the next release, "I Need Someone," only got to 75.

The Belmonts' fortunes picked up again with their Sabina single "Come On Little Angel," written by Ernie Maresca. Produced by Gerry Granahan, an established songwriter and recording star (as Dickie Do & the Don'ts), who also oversaw the operations of the company, the single got to number 28 during the summer of 1962. The group also made a bad miscalculation around this time when Maresca offered them the first crack at a song entitled "The Wanderer," and the Belmonts turned it down, only to see it become a massive hit -- indeed, a signature tune -- for Dion. A major lineup change then occurred, when a split developed within the group over their business affairs and the financial condition of Sabina Records; Mastrangelo exited the Belmonts in favor of trying to record solo for Laurie Records. The group carried on, replacing him with Frank Lyndon, and released their first LP, Carnival of Hits, late in 1962 to try and capitalize on "Come on Little Angel."

Sabina Records began diversifying its catalog slightly, releasing "Time to Dream," which was credited to Buddy Christie and Buddy Sheppard, with the Belmonts singing back up as "the Holidays." They also recorded material by a friend of theirs from the Bronx, Pete Barin, but the label couldn't seem to click with any records except those by the Belmonts themselves, and that was changing. By 1963, the Belmonts were not only struggling for a hit, and battling the woefully under-financed condition of their record label, but also changes in public taste. Dion had managed to keep his music current as a solo performer and racked up some huge hits in the process, through 1963, but the Belmonts, by the nature of their name and their harmony sound, seemed more dated. A brief revival in doo wop music in 1961 had been a godsend to the trio, in terms of bookings as well as record sales, and there'd been lots of work in New York and the surrounding area, at a time when they were just coming off of several big hits with Dion. By this time, there were other harmony-based groups out there recording and adding their own respective wrinkles to the music, including the Beach Boys and, closer to home, the East Coast-based Jay & the Americans and the Four Seasons, both of whom had a more commercial sound than the Belmonts. The sales of their own records began declining around this time, "Diddle-Dee-Dum" getting to number 53 and "Ann-Marie" to number 86 in 1963.

Sabina Records struggled on through a handful of additional releases by the Belmonts that never charted, and finally, in 1964, folded. The group moved to United Artists Records that year, and cut their final recordings from this part of their history there in 1966. The trio disbanded that year, although they were back together in 1967 on ABC Records with Together Again, an album that reunited them with Dion. The group remained active after this, cutting an album entitled Summer Love on the Dot Records label in 1969.

The group next became visible in the early '70s, amid the oldies boom. They cut an album for Buddah Records entitled Cigars Acappela Candy, on which they performed several classic oldies tracks and also applied their sound to contemporary hits like "My Sweet Lord" and "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)." In 1972, however, they reunited with Dion for what proved to be the biggest single gig in their history, a performance at New York's Madison Square Garden, which was not only a sell-out event but also recorded for posterity and released as Live at Madison Square Garden 1972. Milano, Mastrangelo, and D'Aleo were the participants in that performance, which was reportedly released two different ways -- the original Warner Bros. LP was heavily sweetened in the studio, where the subsequent reissues (including the Rhino CD) were made from untouched tapes from the original show. The Madison Square Garden show and its aftermath, which included performances together in 1973 as well, basically allowed all concerned to grab their moment of glory. Dion resumed his solo career, while the Belmonts continued working and got another LP of their own out in 1978, entitled Cheek to Cheek, and generated a nostalgia-laced hit in 1981 entitled "Let's Put the Fun Back in Rock N Roll," on which they were teamed with Freddy Cannon, another veteran of early '60s rock & roll. The group's vintage post-Dion work resurfaced on Relic Records and the Ace label from England, which has made it part of it's reasons for existence to reissue seemingly every available note of music by both Dion and the Belmonts, and as of 1996, Fred Milano remained active representing the Belmonts. ~ Bruce Eder
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Doo Wop: Vocal Group Greats

Disc 1

1. Come Back My Love

2. The Glory Of Love

3. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

4. Love Walked In

5. Twilight Time

6. Blue Velvet

7. The Wind

8. Work With Me Annie

9. My Memories Of You

10. Down On My Knees

11. The Letter

12. A Casual Look

13. Please Send Me Someone To Love

15. Count Every Star

16. Every Night (I Pray)

17. I Met Him On Sunday (Ronde-Ronde)

18. Bad Boy

19. Sixty-Minute Man

Disc 2

1. For Sentimental Reasons

2. The Girl I Love

3. I'm Not A Juvenile Delinquent

4. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

5. Come Softly To Me

6. Chapel Of Dreams

7. Happy, Happy Birthday Baby

8. Don't You Just Know It

9. Little Bitty Pretty One

10. Down The Aisle Of Love

11. A Million To One

12. Once Upon A Time

13. Moonlight Cocktails

14. Deep Purple

15. At The Hop

16. Little Darlin'

17. Lonely Way

18. Sea Of Love

20. I Believe

Disc 3

1. A Wonderful Dream

2. Village Of Love

3. The Angels Listened In

4. It Happened Today

5. My Own True Love

6. Love Came To Me

7. Come On Little Angel

8. I Count The Tears

9. Let Me In

10. Smoky Places

12. This Magic Moment

13. Angel Baby

14. Who Put The Bomp (In The Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)

15. The Lion Sleeps Tonight

16. A Thousand Stars

17. You've Really Got A Hold On Me

18. Will You Love Me Tomorrow

19. You Were Mine

20. Forever

x

Track List: Doo-Wop Forever, Vol. 2

Disc 1

1. Rama Lama Ding Dong

2. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

3. Ko Ko Mo

4. Lovers

5. Long Tall Girl

6. Since I Fell For You

7. Remember

8. Aurelia

9. All In My Mind

10. Here In My Heart

12. It's Going To Be Alright

14. Newly Wed

15. Let's Go For A Ride

16. Heaven Knows (I Love You)

17. Franny Franny

18. Gee I'm In Love

19. No One To Love

20. Searching For A New Love

Disc 2

1. Those Oldies But Goodies (Remind Me Of You)

2. Trickle Trickle

3. Coney Island Baby

4. Fat, Fat, Fat Mom-Mi-O

6. Babalu's Wedding Day

7. Gloria

8. Praying For A Miracle

9. Wine Wine Wine

10. Sweet Sixteen

11. What Time Is It?

12. Never Let You Go

13. High On A Hill

14. Now That Summer Is Here

15. Way Love Should Be

16. Fine Little Girl

17. Teenage Triangle

18. I'll Make You Understand

19. I'm Yours

20. Can I Walk You Home

x

Track List: Sounds Of The City: New York Area Doo Wop 1956-1966

Disc 1

1. Sherry

2. Little Star

3. The Lion Sleeps Tonight

4. Barbara-Ann

5. Rip Van Winkle

6. Big Girls Don't Cry

7. He's In Town

8. Runaround

9. Ding Dong

12. Angel Face

14. Darling Can't You Tell

16. Canadian Sunset

17. Echo

19. Unchained Melody

Disc 2

1. I Wonder Why

2. Hushabye

3. Denise

4. Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home)

5. You're The Apple Of My Eye

6. Come A Little Bit Closer

7. Tonite, Tonite

8. Imagination

9. Teenager In Love

10. Be My Girl (Please Be Mine)

11. I Remember

12. She Cried

13. Runaround Sue

14. Girl In My Dreams

15. Pizza Pie

16. Wake Up

17. Teardrops Follow Me

18. Believe Me

19. Donna Lee

Disc 3

2. Remember Then

3. 16 Candles

4. Tell Me Why

5. There's A Moon Out Tonight

6. Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out)

7. Have You Heard

10. Baby Blue

11. Those Oldies But Goodies (Remind Me Of You)

12. Coney Island Baby

14. Please Love Me Forever

15. Till Then

17. You

18. Life Is But A Dream

19. My Own True Love

20. Teenage Vows Of Love

21. Looking For An Echo

x

Track List: The Golden Age Of American Rock 'N' Roll: Vol. 5

1. Wiggle Wiggle

2. Love Potion No. 9

3. I'm Leaving It Up To You

4. You Cheated

5. It Will Stand

6. Sleep Walk

7. Nothin' Shakin'

8. Happy, Happy Birthday Baby

9. Heart And Soul

10. What's Your Name

11. Little Bitty Pretty One

12. Darling Lorraine

13. Tallahassee Lassie

14. Tell Me Why

15. Over The Mountain, Across The Sea

16. Ka-Ding Dong

17. Underwater

18. She Cried

19. Just A Little Bit

20. Sometime

21. Ain't Gonna Kiss Ya

22. Midnight Stroll

23. The Walk

24. Hey Little Girl

25. This Is The Nite

26. Tell Him No

27. Bad Boy

29. Duke Of Earl

30. Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight

x

Track List: The Original Wanderer: The Songs And Sounds Of Ernie Maresca

2. Please Be Fair

3. Lonesome Boy

4. The Story Of Love

6. Child Of Clay

7. I Ask You

8. A Fool In Love

9. Happy Guy

10. Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out)

13. Runaround Sue

15. Come On, Little Angel

18. Lorelei

19. Runaround

21. Dream, Dream, Dream

22. Party Girl

23. Your Big Mistake

25. Down On The Beach

29. You're The Only Girl For Me

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Lovely song !
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I love this song
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dragonlady60 8 8
Yep.
.crunch
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Love anything by The Belmonts!!!
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Love anything by the Belmonts!!
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Several years ago the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gave the E. Street Band the Award for Musical Excellence, essentially inducting them. They should do the same for the Belmonts.
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Belmonts first tier group!
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Dion does the blues now , and he's good . Give him a listen .
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Ahem, Dion had hits with and without the Belmonts. I was disappointed that the special committee inducting backing groups to make up for a few controversie s omitted the Belmonts.
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Both have talent. Together they were great. Seperated they both were good.
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I love how everyone is like "Oh they ripped off Dion, or Dion ripped them off."
Dion broke away from The Belmonts because of reasons, either because of his drug problem, or something else. But Dion was with them in the first place, and they made songs with him. THEN Dion broke away, and started to make song alone. So no one ripped off or copied anyone
Report as inappropriate
jen.linville
do you mean dion and the belmonts?
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steve3691
It is not a rip off of Dion! These are the BELMONTS. True with Dion they were much better then again Dion was much better with the Belmonts!!
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they NEED Dion
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youlivewecle a n
EITHER DION RIP THESE GUYS OFF WITH DONNA THE PRIMADONA, OR VISE VERSA. BUT SOMEONE DEFINETLY RIP EACH OTHER OFF.
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Norman Fox and Rob Roys MUCH BETTER!
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good song, Dion would make it better !
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pmeyer7536
It sounds just like Dion and the Belmonts so. . .It's Doo Wop!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Report as inappropriate
I WONDER HOW DION IS DOING DOWN IN BOCA RATON,FL. ?
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t_heath
What a great song!!!!!!
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i still like them even without dion
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No Good without Dion!!
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THE BELMONTS NEED DION. SO DO I :)
Report as inappropriate
excellent choice mark
Report as inappropriate
mark.spinner
how about norman fox and robroys as similar

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