The Tonettes (1) (Bronx, New-York)
aka The Claremonts
1957 - Why keep Me Dreaming / Angel Of Romance (Apollo 3628)
The Tonettes (1)
1958 - Oh What A Baby / Howie (Doe 101/ABC 9905)
1958 - Uh-Oh / He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me (Doe 103)
1958 - Rockabye baby (Doe)
Vince Castro bb The Tonettes (1)
1958 - Bong Bong / You're My Girl (Doe 102/Apt 25007)
1958 - Too Proud To Cry / Cause I Love You (Apt 25025)
1960 - You're My Girl / Bongo Twist (Apt 25047)
Near the East Tremont section of the Bronx, New York, is a street named Claremont Parkway. It begins at Crotona Park and ends about seven blocks away at Claremont Park. It is a little South of Belmont Avenue (which gave us Dion & The Belmonts) and a little North of Morrisania which gave us The Mellows, Lillian Leach, Dean Barlow, and others . So - this has been fertile ground for vocal group harmony throughout the years. In 1957 on Claremont Parkway were two sisters, Diana and Sylvia Sanchez, who liked to harmonize and blend their voices on tunes of the day. Their good friend Josephine (Josie) Allen often joined them as the threesome enjoyed making music and copying sounds they heard on the radio.
It was a day like many others that the two sisters were hitting some notes when they were heard by a television repair man named Lou Ezzo who was somewhat impressed and told them that they should pursue their talent further. Offering his services, he soon put them in touch with those at Apollo Records, one of New York's oldest and best known independent labels that for the last few years had built up an impressive roster of R & B performers.
The three girls showed their stuff to Apollo and including the song writing ability of Diana Sanchez soon found themselves getting ready to experience their very first recording date. Along with top session musicians such as Sammy Lowe, Sam "The Man" Taylor, Mickey Baker, and David "Panama" Francis, the girls worked out the songs for the very first record for them. The songs were "Keep Me Dreaming" and "Angel Of Romance" on Apollo # 517, which was released in November of 1957. An interesting sidelight is the fact that songwriting credit on the songs is also given to the TV repair man !
The Claremonts were now managed by one Charles Merenstein who just happened to be the son in law of Bess Berman head of Apollo Records. At the beginning of 1958 he launched his own label called Doe Records and readied a new side by The Claremonts whom he now renamed The Tonettes. He reasoned that the new name had a "snappier" sound that teenagers would better relate to. That was also the reason that he recorded the group on his new label thinking that the Apollo Records label was too historically aligned with the basic sound of R & B. And so in February of 1958 came "Oh What A Baby" backed with "Howie" on Doe # 101.
It took off up and down the East Coast and had that certain something that made it a favorite at record hops and dances everywhere. Soon Doe Records realized the extent of the appeal of the record and leased the master to ABC-Paramount (released on # 9905) which gave the record access to nationwide distribution. "Oh What A Baby" was a good seller and a mainstay on radio playlists throughout the spring.
Vince Castro & The Tonettes
In the meantime there was another player in the musical history of the group. Across Claremont Parkway from the Sanchez sisters lived another young person with dreams of musical stardom. His name was Vince Castro and he sometimes shared notes with the sisters. And so he was given a shot to add his voice and style to the music of the day and Charles Merenstein set the session for May. The Tonettes backed up Castro on the song "Bong Bong (I Love You Madly)" with "You're My Girl" on Doe Records # 102. Once again the 'A' side took off in sales and airplay and Doe leased the side to another ABC-Paramount subsidiary label Apt Records on # 25007. And so in the spring and summer of 1958 the joyous sounds of the neighbors on Claremont Parkway shook the city with two great records, and they both (together and as solo acts) performed at a number of shows and radio dances in the Northeast.
Vince Castro followed up his solid hit with another session that produced two songs that he wrote himself - "Cause I Love You" and "Too Proud To Beg" released on Apt # 25025. This time out the record did not crack the charts. Not much more was heard from The Tonettes or Vince Castro, but in the early sixties to try and make something out of the Twist craze, Apt Records re-released # 25007 as "The Bongo Twist" and coupled with the original flip side released it on # 25047.
Why keep Me Dreaming Angel Of Romance
The Tonettes (1)
Oh What A Baby Howie Uh-Oh
He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me Rockabye baby
Vince Castro bb The Tonettes (1)
Too Proud To Cry Cause I Love You Bong Bong
You're My Girl Bongo Twist
(L to R) Richard Travis, Dee Ervin, Tony Thomas and Johnny B. Willingham
The Pastels (2) (Air Force, Washington, DC)
DiFosco 'Dee' Ervin (Lead)
Richard Travis (Tenor)
Tony Thomas (Tenor)
Johnny B. Willingham (Baritone)
1957 - Been So Long / My One And Only Dream (Mascot 123/Argo 5287)
1958 - You Don't Love Me Anymore / Let's Go To The Rock & Roll Ball (Argo 5297)
1958 - So Far Away / Don't Knock (Argo- 5314)
1958 - How Can I Thank You
1958 - I Wish I Had A Money Tree
1958 - Oh Me Oh My
Doo wop group the Pastels formed in 1954. At the time, lead DiFosco "Dee" Erwin, first tenor Richard Travis, second tenor Tony Thomas, and baritone Jimmy Willingham were all stationed at a U.S. Air Force base in Narsarssuak, Greenland, and their first live appearances were in conjunction with military showcases.
According to Marv Goldberg's profile in the December 1977 edition of Yesterday's Memories, all four Pastels were eventually transferred to Washington, D.C., and following a well-received performance at the USAF's annual "Tops in Blue" talent show, the group decided to pursue a record contract, eventually landing with the small Hull label.
(L to R) Richard Travis, Johnny B. Willingham, Tony Thomas and Dee Ervin,
Their debut, "Been So Long," hit retail in November 1957, and when it seemed poised for breakout success, Chess Records licensed the disc for national distribution, reissuing the single on its Argo subsidiary a month later. In early 1958, "Been So Long" reached the R&B Top Five, also crossing over to number 24 on the Billboard pop chart.
After extensive touring as part of DJ Alan Freed's Big Beat Show, the Pastels returned to the studio to cut a follow-up, "You Don't Love Me Anymore." The record failed to match the success of its predecessor, however, and when their third Argo release, "So Far Away," met the same fate, the group dissolved in early 1959. Dee Ervin returned to his native New York City and mounted a solo career, scoring a 1963 hit with his cover of the World War II-era favorite "Swinging on a Star."
Been So Long My One And Only Dream
You Don't Love Me Anymore Let's Go To The Rock & Roll Ball
So Far Away Don't Knock
How Can I Thank You Oh Me Oh My
Bobby Russell & Buzz Cason
The Todds (Nashville, T.N.)
aka The Countdowns (1) aka The F. J. Babies
1961 - Tennessee / May We Always (Todd 1064)
1962 - Popsicle / Sugar Hill (Todd 1076)
The Countdowns (1)
1961 - Watermelon / The Writing On The Wall (Image 5002)
The F. J. Babies
1962 - She Has / And The Moon Came Down (Apt 25068)
By 1957, The Casuals had become a touring act, replacing The Everly Brothers on a tour of 60 fair dates. Later, legendary manager, Dub Albritton heard the group and The Casuals became Brenda Lee's backing band. The original Casuals were Buzz Cason, Richard Williams, Billy Smith, Chester Power and Johnny McCreery. During this same period, Buzz Cason met Bobby Russell, an aspiring writer at the old Globe Recording Studio in Nashville located above Mom's Tavern (now Tootsie's Orchid Lounge) and the two began to co-write.
The Casuals with Tonny Moon (Harmonica)
Gary Paxton became a publisher for Lowery Music of Atlanta and published their "ba- ba-ba" Jan and Dean-type song, "Tennessee." They made another Todds single on the tune "Popsicle," which, like "Tennessee," was later covered by Jan and Dean on Liberty. The Todds' session was produced by their new production company, Tri-Arts, which Bobby Russel and Buzz Cason formed with Tony Moon (From Dante & The Evergreens). They opened an office together on 16th Avenue, but soon realized they had no viable way to pay rent.
They managed to raise money to do "Popsicle" as The Todds and "Watermelon," using the name The Countdowns, on Kenny's Image label and "She Has" by the F.J. Babies. The records featured Buzz Cason, Bobby Russell & Tony Moon on vocals and many of the instruments. The "F.J" on the "She Has" disc stood for Felton Jarvis, the personable head of the ABC record label in Nashville and the record came out on the APT label, a subsidiary of ABC.
In 1963 and for two years, Buzz Cason & Bobby Russell sang under pseudonyms for Hit Records and Giant Records. Hit Records of Nashville was a 1960s budget label who recorded and released "sound-alike" recordings of hit singles by artists who often recorded under pseudonyms. These were in most cases as good as or better than the originals, and sometimes even outsold the original releases. Bobby Russell and Buzz Cason were in charge of the Pop and Rock & Roll recordings of which Bobby would go on to become one of the most successful songwriters of the 1960s with titles like "Honey" and "Little Green Apples" to his credit. Buzz Cason & Bobby Russell sang under the name of The Chellows on Many Four Seasons' Songs like "Walk Like A Man", "Big Girls Don't Cry" on Hit Records . They are the Shaw Brothers on "That's old fashioned" on Hit Records and they are the Belles on "Ain't that A Shame" b/w "If You Wanna' Be Happy" on Giant.
(updated by Hans-Joachim)
May We Always Popsicle
Sugar Hill Tennessee
The F. J. Babies
And The Moon Came Down She Has
The Satisfactions (2) (Baltimore, Maryland)
Charles Carrington (Lead)
Braxton Hunter (Lead)
1962 - We Will Walk Together / Oh Why (Do I Love You So)? (Chesapeake 610)
The Satisfactions were a Baltimore-based singing group and band, circa 1960 - 1963. They were managed by James Dupree and featured Braxton Hunter, Charles Carrington, Michael Jones, Lovie & Frog.
(L to R) Charles Carrington, Michael Jones, Lovie, Frog and Braxton Hunter
They recorded in 1962 for the Baltimore based label Chesapeake Records the sides "We Will Walk Together" / "Oh Why (Do I Love You So)?". "Oh Why (Do I Love You So)?" was their only local hit.
Oh Why (Do I Love You So)? We Will Walk Together