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The Poni-Tails

Toni Cistone (lead), LaVerne Novak, and Karen Topinka were the original Poni-Tails. Unlike some other acts who scored big in rock, the trio of ladies didn't come from meager beginnings; they all were from Lyndhurst, OH (an upper-middle-class suburb of Cleveland where they expected children to graduate from high school, go to college, earn a degree, and become a professional; involvement in popular music was considered frivolous). The trio began singing at Brush High School; attorney John Jewitt introduced them to music publisher Tom Illius who got the ball rolling. Illius liked a self-penned song the high schoolers wrote, "Que la Bozena," and offered to shop it around town. A deal was secured with a local label, Point Records, with Illius acting as their manager. Point released "Your Wild Heart" with the Poni-Tails tune as the B-side. They almost charted with their first release, but Joy Layne, a Chicago singer, covered the song on Mercury Records. Layne's version zoomed to number 20 on Billboard's pop charts; her version deserved to hit, she had range and vocal dynamics that the Poni-Tails didn't possess, and she was only 15 years old. Layne was a Sandy Duncan look- and soundalike.

Tom Illius secured a deal for the Poni-Tails with Marc Records; one release resulted, "Can I Be Sure," which didn't do as well as their debut recording. Around this time, Karen Topinka's father had enough of the music business, its promises, the broken dreams, and elusive royalties, and persuaded Topinka to quit. The Poni-Tails held auditions and chose Patti McCabe, a Regina High School student, as Karen Topinka's replacement. Through Illius, a deal got consummated with ABC-Paramount and the revamped Poni-Tails waxed "Just My Luck to Be Fifteen," which vanished from sight upon release. Then came their claim to fame, a record that many radio stations still play today -- "Born Too Late." It was the flip side of "Come on Joey, Dance With Me," but some Cleveland DJs (Bill Randall being the most prominent) thought otherwise and played "Born Too Late," and the gamble paid off. Subsequent ABC-Paramount recordings, "Seven Minutes to Heaven" and "I'll Be Seeing You," stiffed at numbers 85 and 89, respectively. The Poni-Tails' final recording, "Who, When, and Why," came out in 1960 and failed to chart.

ABC-Paramount was not dismayed, they wanted to sign the group for five years more, but their interest in the music business waned. The business is not for everybody, and certainly not for suburbanites with other options at their disposal. For their recording efforts, all the Poni-Tails ever received was fan mail and spending money. The lack of royalties, which undoubtablely was devored by the cost of the recording sessions, outfits, traveling expenses, and promotional costs, probably related to their decision to exit. Patti (McCabe) Barnes died of cancer in January 1989. Toni (Cistone) Costabile worked at a high school in Shaker Heights, OH, and Laverne (Novak) Glivic works as a real estate agent in Mentor, OH, and lives by Cleveland Hopkins Airport. "The three years were fun, but I just wanted to get out of the record business and get back to normal living," stated Toni Cistone. The girls did, however, regroup to sing their hit at the Moon Dog Coronation Ball held in Cleveland, OH, in 1997, with Herb Reed & the Platters, the Skyliners, the Drifters, and others.

Poni Records has compiled a bogus 12 song CD of Poni-Tail recordings entitled Fun Fun Fun. The only Poni-Tail tune listed is "Born Too Late." The rest, like "Ooh Baby, Baby," "You Don't Own Me," "Tell Him," and "Da Do Ron Ron," couldn't have been recorded by the original Poni-Tails, since they retired in 1960 and many of these songs first appeared years later. The picture on the CD shows three model-type ladies dressed in skin-tight leather outfits, two brunettes and a blonde. ~ Andrew Hamilton
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: 60's Popular Pop, Vol. 1

1. Handy Man

2. Heartaches By The Number

3. I'll Be Seeing You

5. I'm Sorry

6. Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

7. Last Date

8. Let's Have A Party

9. Lonely Blue Boy

10. Love You So

11. M.T.A.

12. Mountain Of Love

13. Pistol Packin' Mama

14. Poetry In Motion

15. Puppy Love

16. Rubber Ball

17. Teen Angel

18. The Hucklebuck

19. You're Sixteen

x

Track List: The Broons Big Braw Party Album

1. The Wanderer

3. All Shook Up

4. Do You Wanna Dance

5. Twistin’ The Night Away

7. Dream Baby

8. Stand By Me

9. It Might As Well Rain Until September

10. The Lion Sleeps Tonight

11. A Picture Of You

12. You’re Sixteen

13. Kon Tiki

14. Born Too Late

16. Claudette

17. The Wonderful World Of The Young

19. Jailhouse Rock

20. Long Tall Sally

21. Wild Wind

22. Oh Lonesome Me

24. Donna

25. Snow Coach

26. Raunchy

27. Alone

28. Summertime Blues

29. Oh Carol

30. Oh Boy

31. I Put A Spell On You

32. Sugartime

33. Rock With The Cavemen

35. Love And Marriage

36. Singin’ In The Rain

37. Bachelor Boy

38. The Deadwood Stage

40. Fever

41. Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend

43. Tulips From Amsterdam

44. You'll Never Walk Alone

45. That’ll Be The Day

46. Michael Row The Boat Ashore

47. Ain't That A Shame

48. The Ugly Duckling

50. Six-Five Special

51. Adios Amigo

52. Be Bop A Lula

53. Green Door

54. The Story Of My Life

55. Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat

56. You Got What It Takes

57. My Boomerang Won’t Come Back

59. Smile

60. Johnny B Goode

61. Donald Where's Yer Troosers

62. Bluebell Polka

72. The Song Of The Clyde

87. Can’t Help Falling In Love

88. Crazy

89. Sealed With A Kiss

90. Crying In The Rain

91. Carolina Moon

92. Blue Velvet

93. Answer Me

94. The Great Pretender

95. Bali Hai

96. My Funny Valentine

98. When The Girl In Your Arms Is The Girl In Your Heart

99. Secret Love

100. Cry Me A River

101. You Send Me

102. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye

103. Let It Be Me

105. Unforgettable

106. Earth Angel

107. Love Me Tender

108. Turn Out The Light

109. Finger Of Suspicion

111. I'm Walking Behind You

x

Track List: The 60's Collection Vol. 3

1. The Wedding

4. It's Been A Long Time Pretty Baby

6. Teen Angel

7. You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry

8. Who Needs Love

10. Wooden Heart

11. Born Too Late

12. Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread)

14. Patches

15. This I Swear

17. Shining Star

18. Little Red Rented Rowboat

19. Our Wedding Day

21. I Wish That We Were Married

22. Theme From Dr. Kildare (3 Stars Will Shine Tonight)

23. Little Honda

x

Track List: The Hits Of 1959, Vol. 3

2. Seven Little Girls

3. Mary Lou

4. Dream Lover

5. Don't You Know

6. The Battle Of The Kookamonga

7. Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home)

8. I'm Gonna Get Married

9. Here Comes Summer

10. Telephone Baby

11. Hushabye

12. Shout

13. Peggy Sue Got Married

14. Heartaches By The Number

15. I'll Be Seeing You

16. Sea Cruise

17. You Were Mine

18. Over And Over

19. Lonely Blue Boy

x

Track List: The 50s

1. Jim Dandy

2. Lipstick On Your Collar

3. Maybe

4. Sweet Nothin's

5. Mr. Lee

6. Eddie My Love

7. Lollipop

8. Lucky Lips

9. Born Too Late

10. Lullaby Of The Bells

11. The Big Hurt

12. What A Diff'rence A Day Makes

13. Please Mr. Disc Jockey

14. The Wayward Wind

15. Alone (Why Must I Be Alone)

16. Pink Shoe Laces

17. Cry Baby

18. Ivory Tower

20. Teach Me Tonight

22. Tonight You Belong To Me

23. Don't You Know

24. Lonely Nights

25. Cry Me A River

Comments

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sorry you were born too late LOL
Report as inappropriate
play born to late by the Poni- Tails
Report as inappropriate
nanglasgow
Charles F. Brush High School graduates from Lyndhurst, OH. Our claim to fame

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