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Tony Orlando

In conjunction with his backing duo Dawn, singer Tony Orlando was one of the biggest pop stars of the early '70s, best remembered for the mammoth hit "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree." Born Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis in New York City on April 3, 1944, he entered the music business at the age of 16 following a successful audition for producer Don Kirshner. Orlando's first hit, 1961's "Halfway to Paradise," was written for him by Carole King, who also authored the Top 20 follow-up, "Bless You." However, after scoring a minor chart entry with "Happy Times (Are Here to Stay)," his career ground to a halt when Kirshner sold his company to Screen Gems, which showed considerably more interest in publishing music than recording it. Orlando was given a job with the company's promotional department, and in 1967 he was tapped by Columbia Records to head their own publishing division, April-Blackwood Music.

In early 1970, Orlando received a call from Bell Records producer Hank Medress requesting that he lay down a lead vocal over a demo recorded by a Detroit-based act called Dawn. The duo, consisting of vocalists Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent, had previously backed up singers including Edwin Starr, Johnnie Taylor, Freda Payne, and others; according to legend, Orlando never even met either singer until well after the record, "Candida," became a massive hit, rising to number three on the singles charts. Orlando quickly agreed to cut another record with Dawn, nonetheless adamantly insisting on keeping his day job; titled "Knock Three Times"; the single topped the charts in early 1971, and finally Orlando returned to music full-time, signing with Bell and going on tour with Hopkins and Vincent under the banner of Dawn, Featuring Tony Orlando.

Released in 1973, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" became Orlando's biggest hit yet, and was named the top-selling single of the year. Long after its original success, the song re-entered the public consciousness with renewed force in 1981, becoming something of anthem during the Iranian hostage crisis as American citizens regularly tied yellow ribbons around trees as a symbol of their hopes and prayers for the hostages' safe return. By that time, Tony Orlando & Dawn had long since dissolved: after scoring subsequent Top Ten hits with 1973's "Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose?," 1974's "Steppin' Out (Gonna Boogie Tonight)," and 1975's chart-topping "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)," the group's popularity began to slip, although they enjoyed considerable success with their CBS television variety series. However, in July 1977, Orlando -- reeling from the recent deaths of his sister and his close friend Freddie Prinze, as well as mounting drug problems -- announced his retirement, giving up show biz in the name of Christianity.

Orlando's retirement proved short-lived, and just four months later, he made a solo comeback in Las Vegas; Dawn attempted to forge on without him, but enjoyed little success on their own and eventually disbanded. In the meantime, Orlando signed to the Casablanca label, but as a solo performer he fared poorly, scoring only one charting single, 1979's "Sweets for My Sweet." The following year, he joined the cast of Broadway's Barnum; Hopkins mounted an acting career as well, to significant success. After appearing regularly on the sitcom Bosom Buddies, she joined the cast of Gimme a Break and, later, the long-running Family Matters. In 1988, Tony Orlando and Dawn briefly re-formed, and two years later -- already a staple of the Las Vegas club circuit -- he became the latest in a long line of celebrities to open a theater in the tourist community of Branson, Missouri, founding the Tony Orlando Yellow Ribbon Music Theater with the promise to play some 200 dates there annually. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: 60's Pop Hits

Disc 1

1. You've Made Me So Very Happy

2. Brown Eyed Girl

3. Hang On Sloopy

4. Oh, Pretty Woman

5. Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um

7. Hush

8. Hey Little Cobra

10. It's Your Thing

11. Bless You

12. Donna, The Prima Donna

13. It's All Over

Disc 2

1. I Want Candy

2. Kind Of A Drag

3. Lady Willpower

4. Close Your Eyes

6. Mr. Tambourine Man

7. Time Has Come Today

8. Him Or Me What's It Gonna Be?

9. Turn Down Day

10. I Could Be So Good To You

11. My World Fell Down

12. San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)

Disc 3

1. Sunshine Superman

2. Carrie Anne

4. Take Good Care Of My Baby

5. Sugar And Spice

6. Can't Get Used To Losing You

7. I Can Make It With You

8. Green, Green

9. Groovin' Is Easy

11. I Got A Line On You

12. Flowers On The Wall

14. Summertime, Summertime

x

Track List: Fontana Records, Vol. 1

1. Bless You

3. Rock A Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody

4. Misty

5. The White Rose Of Athens

6. El Paso

7. Are You Sure?

8. Jamie

9. Halfway To Paradise

11. Baby Sittin' Boogie

12. Never On Sunday

13. Take Five

14. I Put A Spell On You

15. You Threw A Dart

16. (Seven Little Girls) Sitting In The Back Seat

17. The Woman Who Loved A Swine

18. You Can Have Her

20. The Story Of My Life

x

Track List: Radio Gold (Volume 3)

1. Love Is Strange

2. Willie And The Hand Jive

3. Sweet Nothin's

4. I'm In Love Again

6. Chanson D'amour (Song Of Love)

7. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter

8. Susie Darlin'

9. The Lion Sleeps Tonight

10. Make It Easy On Yourself

11. It's In His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)

12. Halfway To Paradise

13. That'll Be The Day

14. Only The Lonely

15. When

16. A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation)

17. On The Rebound

18. Day-O (Banana Boat Song)

19. Singing The Blues

20. The Twelfth Of Never

21. Freight Train

22. Big Man

23. At The Hop

24. Just Walking In The Rain

25. The Garden Of Eden

26. The Green Door

27. I Hear You Knocking

28. Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat

29. Witch Doctor

30. I Go Ape

x

Track List: Treasured Tunes - Volume 5

1. White Silver Sands

2. Oh Julie

3. Buddy

4. Happy-Go-Lucky Me

6. Dreamin'

7. Corinna, Corinna

9. Halfway To Paradise

10. West Of The Wall

11. Little Bitty Pretty One

12. Any Other Way

14. Surfin' Hootenanny

15. The Wedding

16. I'm Gonna Love You Too

17. Elusive Butterfly

18. Little Arrows

19. Playboy

20. Master Jack

Comments

Report as inappropriate
michellewill i a m s 3 0 3
I LOVE TONY ORLANDO A HOLE LOT MOORE BECAUSE HE A GOOD SINGER
Report as inappropriate
michellewill i a m s 3 0 3
I LOVE THIS SONG ALSO
Report as inappropriate
I love the early Tony Orlando. Do not get me wrong, I love his songs with Dawn, but, prefer his early music. "Halfway To Paradise" and "Bless You" are my favs. Got the chance and priviledge to meet him, see him perform and see his play, "Jukebox Dreams". What a talented man he is. You just have to love this Greek-a-Rica n . . . . as he calls himself.
Report as inappropriate
how do I play this artist music?
Report as inappropriate
Knock 3 times, Tie a yellow ribbon, Bless you. As a teen in the 70's, Tony Orlando had that feel good song, made you forget about the down times, and get happy again. These songs take me to those days. When I hear them during a stressful time now ( yes, we all have them ), it does what music and memories are suppose to do, make us remember better time. Not that things aren't good now, because they are, but the innocence of our adolescence can never be replaced, just remembered. SMILE!!

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