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The Capris

Not to be confused with the Philadelphia group of the same name, the New York City Capris were a white doo wop group. Although strongly associated with the 1950s rock & roll sound, the two records they are best known for, "There's a Moon out Tonight" and "Morse Code of Love," didn't become hits until the '50s were over.

The group originally formed in 1957 in the borough of Queens, NY, when all were teenagers. The original lead was Nick Santa Maria (aka Santo), Mike Mincelli (first tenor), Steve Reina (second tenor), Vinnie Narcardo (baritone), and John Apostol (bass). In selecting their name, the guys were apparently unfamiliar with the Philadelphia group that had preceded them by a few years. Previous interviews with different members of the group make it unclear whether the group was named for the Isle of Capri, or the car of the same name. Perhaps it was a combination of the two.

By 1958, the group had been gaining experience performing at local venues, and had even started adding some of their own original material to their repertoire. They attracted the attention of some independent record producers, and were soon in the studio cutting an original ballad called "There's a Moon out Tonight." For the B-side, they recorded an interesting up-tempo novelty tune titled "Indian Girl." With it's strong 1950s rock & roll flavor, the sides were quickly picked up for release by Planet, a small New York City label. Unfortunately for the Capris though, Planet was not able to effectively promote the record and it became an almost instant obscurity. Original Planet pressings of "There's a Moon out Tonight" can now fetch up to 1,000 dollars in collectors circles, when one of these rare platters surfaces.

Soon thereafter, the groupmembers all went their separate ways, and one would think that's where the story would end. But, for the Capris, things took a different and an interesting turn. By 1960, much of what was being passed off to teenagers as rock & roll was polished pop with a beat; lacking the original vitality of what preceded it in the mid-'50s. Discerning and disgruntled teenagers were looking backward, and radio programs were starting to focus on "oldies," even though these "oldies" may have been released only two or three years earlier. As luck would have it, the Capris' record found it's way in to the hands of Jerry Greene. At the time, Greene worked for Times Square Records, a legendary New York City "oldies" store that supplied DJ Alan Fredericks with material for his Night Train radio show. Fredericks played the record and now kids were looking to buy it. Greene was initially able to get a few hundred of the remaining copies of the record from Planet. With the demand exceeding the dwindling number of available copies, Greene finally purchased the masters from Planet, started his own label, and reissued "There's a Moon out Tonight" as Lost Nite 101. But the demand kept growing and so Greene turned to Hy Weiss, who released the disc again, now on his Old Town label.

By early 1961, the record had made the national charts and stayed there for over three months. With a national hit on their hands, the Capris reunited and soon were playing some of the country's most prestigious venues, like the Regal in Chicago and the Apollo in New York City. Trying to capitalize on the success of "There's a Moon out Tonight," Old Town released three more singles by the group, all in 1961. "Where I Fell In Love" was an average ballad that borrowed lyrically from "Moon" but lacked it's energy. The flip side "Some People Think," another ballad, was a stronger effort by the group. It probably would have done better without the syrupy strings that were added. It barely broke in to the national charts, and quickly dropped out of sight.

Their next release, "Why Do I Cry," was a cliché-filled ballad, again with too much strings added. The flip side, "Tears in My Eyes," was another pleasant ballad by the group. But again, neither side registered with the fans. For their last Old Town pairing, they broke with the back-to-back ballad formula of the previous two releases. "My Island in yhe Sun" was a nice mid-tempo number with a cha cha feel. The flip "Girl in My Dreams" was a decent ballad, although with some overly busy string bass work that somewhat intrudes on the group's vocal efforts. This one also scratched at the bottom of the charts but never took off. Some previously unreleased Capris tracks for Old Town have now been made available on a series of CDs put out by England's Ace Records.

1962 saw the group leave Old Town and move over to the Mr. Peeke label for a single release "Limbo" backed with "From the Vine Came the Grape." Neither of these tunes captured the public's attention. So, by 1963, the Capris were dissolving again, with Santo becoming one of New York City's finest. Over the next few years there would be other personnel changes as the group continued on with performances. But for the next big event in the history of the Capris, we'll fast forward about 20 years.

In 1982, Nick Santo re-joined the group and they went in to the studio to record a new album,There's a Moon out Again, for Ambient Sound. Besides doing covers of some doo wop classics, the Capris also included a couple of original tunes. One of these was a song called "Morse Code of Love." The tune sounded like it came right out of the late '50s, and many thought it was in fact an overlooked "oldie." It was also released as a single in 1982, backed with "There's a Moon out Again." And the song got even more exposure when Manhattan Transfer decided to cover it. Over the years, "Morse Code of Love" has only grown in popularity and has become one of the most requested tunes on oldies-type radio stations. Once again the Capris scored a home run with a 1950s sound that touched the heartstrings of the listeners and evoked the spirit of a time when life was simpler. ~ Jim Dunn
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: 20 Great Oldies I'll Always Remember, Vol.4

1. Honey

2. Tell Him

3. Bang Bang

5. Boom Boom

6. Elusive Butterfly

7. What The World Needs Now

8. You're Sixteen

10. The Bird's The Word

11. Kind Of A Drag

12. The Night Has A Thousand Eyes

13. I'm On The Outside

14. The Mountain's High

15. Let's Lock The Door

16. Walk Don't Run

17. Where Do You Go

18. Cara Mia

19. Happy Together

20. There's A Moon Out Tonight

x

Track List: 25 Great Original Oldies Vol.1

1. Donna

2. Stagger Lee

4. Wake Up Little Susie

5. Runaround Sue

6. Little Darlin'

7. Everybody's Somebody's Fool

8. One Fine Day

9. Poetry In Motion

10. If I Had A Hammer

11. There's A Moon Out Tonight

12. Mangos

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

14. Harbor Lights

15. Venus In Blue Jeans

16. Crazy Love

17. Chapel Of Love

18. How Much Is That Doggie In The Window

19. I'm Gonna Knock On Your Door

20. Little Honda

21. My Own True Love

22. Turn Me Loose

23. Running Bear

24. Under The Moon Of Love

25. Oh! Carol

x

Track List: Fabriclive. 07: John Peel

5. Needle In A Haystack

7. Let's Get Small

8. There's A Moon Out Tonight

9. Mr. Pharmacist

11. Too Much

13. Moon Hop

14. In Love

17. Lion Rock

19. Love Will Tear Us Apart

24. Teenage Kicks

x

Track List: Golden Memories Vol. 14

1. Daddy's Home

2. I'm Leaving It All Up To You

3. There's A Moon Out Tonight

4. He's So Fine

5. Raindrops

6. Ya Ya

7. Lovers Island

8. Anyone Who Had Heart

9. Mountain Of Love

10. Midnight Special

11. You Talk Too Much

12. Paper Roses

13. My Dad

14. Baby It's You

15. Goodbye Cruel World

17. Mule Skinner Blues

18. (What A) Wonderful World

19. Hey Girl

x

Track List: Lowrider Oldies, Vol. 5

1. One Summer Night

2. Could This Be Magic

3. Dedicated To The One I Love

4. My True Story

5. Look In My Eyes

6. There's A Moon Out Tonight

7. Maybe

8. Daddy's Home

9. A Thousand Miles Away

10. So Fine

11. I'm So Proud

12. A Sunday Kind Of Love

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

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. 2

1. Memphis

3. You Belong To Me

4. Your Ma Said You Cried In Your Sleep Last Night

5. A Million To One

6. Rockin' In The Jungle

7. Wild Weekend

8. Stay

9. Down The Aisle Of Love

10. Mountain Of Love

12. Let The Little Girl Dance

13. There's A Moon Out Tonight

14. Get A Job

15. You

16. Buzz Buzz Buzz

17. I've Had It

18. I Know (You Don't Love Me No More)

19. Mister Lonely

20. In The Still Of The Night

21. Church Bells May Ring

22. That's LIfe (That's Tough)

23. Rumble

24. Let's Stomp

25. Oh Julie

26. Little Darlin'

27. Teen Beat

28. Diamonds And Pearls

29. Alley Oop

30. California Sun

Comments

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Classic.
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Who is Aries" Aque.....my sign is Aries
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They Wur the Bomb at The Orange Shoe
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Im Singing this is the Jamm
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Wow... What a Song
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Golden oldies days!!!!!!!! !
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This music and Jacksonville will live with me forever
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Days of innosaints
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Wow!!!! :"(
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forum_3
Best memories ever, no greed, just loves.
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great memories
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johnferrara9 8 3
Love this music
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mike3345mike
great melody!!!
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OMG!!! The memories
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Good old high school
Days

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lv2rd542
One of my favorites, wish they made music like this today
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I love these songs, dancing close lol enjoy
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Classic for sure
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marilug244
Love it . Reminds me of me and my viejo rolling in his low lows :) <3
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Amen chicnky
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lgersba1
Dion did Doo Wop in the 90’s when he released Shu Bop
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gmood614
Morse Code of Love came out in 1982 (?) Much later than the Casinos' hit
Report as inappropriate
There's nothing like the street corner music!!!
Report as inappropriate
dschroe102
just love it
Report as inappropriate
Great song!
Report as inappropriate
Disagree with rbecker799, Morse Code of Love was NOT the last doo wop song forever. The last song was Then You Can Tell Me Goodby by the Casinos in 1967. 8-)
Report as inappropriate
THERES A MOON OUT AGAIN was another song that was OK but not as good. MORSE CODE OF LOVE was great and the last DOO-WOP song ever.
Report as inappropriate
smw3971
Great song love it
Report as inappropriate
djjp1049
I DID LEAD ON THIS SONG IN BKLKYN, BAY RIDGE JAMES LEAD MOE 2ND TENOR RIC CAV BARRITONE JOHNNY C IST TENOR THE DUKES
Report as inappropriate
Back in 1967, I used to vote for this song on the WOR-FM Top 500 survey
Report as inappropriate
myjimmyli
Nicky, the lead singer, a former NYC police officer, has passed on...may you rest in peace brother!
Report as inappropriate
This is one of the most nostalgic and harmonious songs of the doo-wop period.
Report as inappropriate
Great song, Moon out tonight. Loved it!!
Report as inappropriate
lenny coco and the chimes not capris
Report as inappropriate
They have the wrong group listed for the song "Once in a While." It was not The Capris who did it but The Chimes.
Report as inappropriate
Capris recorded a song called Morse Code of Love....grea t tune.

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