The Mellokings (Mount Vernon, New York)
aka The Mellotones (2) aka The Mello-Kings
Jerry Scholl (Lead)
Bob Scholl (Tenor)
Eddie Quinn (Second Tenor)
Neil Arena (Baritone)
Larry Esposito (Bass)
1957 - Tonite, Tonite / Do Baby Do (Herald 502)
1957 - Tonite, Tonite / Do Baby Do (Herald 502)
1957 - Chapel On The Hill / Sassafras (Herald 507)
1957 - Baby Tell Me (Why, Why, Why) / The Only Girl (Herald 511)
1958 - Valerie / She's Real Cool (Herald 518)
1959 - Chip Chip / Running To You (Herald 536)
1960 - Our Love Is Beautiful / Dear Mr. Jock (Herald 548)
1960 - Kid Stuff / I Promise (Herald 554)
1961 - Penny /' Till There Was None (Herald 1961)
1961 - Love At First Sight / She's Real Cool (Herald 567)
1965 - Tonight, Tonight / Thrill Me (Flashback 2)
1977 - Tonight, Tonight / Chapel On The Hill (Janus 722)
1962 - But You Lied / Walk Softly (Lescay 3009)
1966 - Tonite Tonite / Chip Chip (Lana 124)
1958 -The Fabulous Mello.Kings (Herald EP 451)
Tonite Tonite / She's Real Cool / The Only Girl (I'll Ever Love) / Do Baby Do
1960 - The Mellokings Sing (Herald LP-1013)
Tonight Tonight / I Promise, Our Love Is Beautiful / Sassafras / The Only Girl / Once On A Windy Day / Kid Stuff / Chapel On The Hill /Starbright / Valarie / Chip Chip / Baby Tell Me (Why, Why, Why)
1981 - The Mellokings "Greatest Hits" (Relic 5035/Herald LP-1013)
Tonite Tonite / She's Real Cool / The Only Girl (I'll Ever Love) / Do Baby Do / Chapel On The Hill / Dear Mr. Jock / Kid Stuff / Thrill Me / Valerie / Love At First Sight / Running To You / Baby Tell Me / Til There Were None / Sassafras / Our Love Is Beautiful / I Promise / Chip Chip / Penny
The group formed in 1956 in Mount Vernon, New York . By the fall of 1956, they were calling themselves the Mellotones, gaining attention in the local area and catching the ear of a black pianist named Dick Levister, who offered to become the group's manager and accompany them during live performances. It was Levister who brought them to the attention of Al Silver, who owned both the Herald and Ember labels.
Silver, one of the pioneering R&B label owners, had by this point already recorded and released numerous hit singles by acts , including the Nutmegs , the Five Satins (whose "In the Still of the Night," a smash in 1956, had been leased to Ember; they later scored a hit for the label with "To the Aisle," a Top Ten R&B hit -- number 25 pop -- in the summer of 1957), and the Turbans (whose "When You Dance" was the group's best charter for Herald").
Silver liked what he heard and the group -- with their trademark white jackets (at Levister's insistence, supposedly) - helped them forge an identity with the teenage public. For the Mellotones' first release, Silver chose a tune called "Tonite, Tonite" (Herald number 502), written by Billy Myles (who also penned "All My Love You Were Made For" with Jackie Wilson). It was released during the summer of 1957 and became an immediate regional smash hit.
Unfortunately, Silver discovered too late that there was already a record out that summer on George Goldner's Gee label by a group called the Mello-Tones, (their "Rosie Lee" later climbed into the Top 24 on the pop charts). A quick name change was in order and using Levister's nickname "King," "Tonite, Tonite" (Herald number 502) was quickly re-released as by the Mello-Kings.
The single was a big seller in the Northeast, again having regional ties. They made more than one TV appearance with Dick Clark on both the daily American Bandstand and his weekly Saturday Night show for ABC network. The follow-up single in September 1957, Chapel On The Hill was another lovely ballad while the flip, Sassafras was more of a novelty teen rock ‘n’ roller. Before the year was out Herald released a third single, the uptempo Baby Tell Me Why, Why, Why and the ballad The Only Girl. Despite promotional appearances and national exposure on the likes of American Bandstand and working an Irvin Feld 17 day tour featuring the Everly Brothers, the Crickets, the Rays, the Hollywood Flames, Eddie Cochran, and Jimmy Rodgers, they still couldn’t crack the charts.
In the spring of 1958, the Mellokings became a four-piece when Neil Arena left. Mot long after, Larry Esposito also left, and the Mellokings replaced them with Louis Jannacone and Tony Pinto. This was the line-up that recorded Chip Chip in November 1958. Released in January 1959, Chip Chip is a great novelty that had hit record written all over it. The flip Running To You was a nice slowie that had more than a hint of Dion about it. It was over a year before the next release, another lovely ballad, Our Love Is Beautiful backed by the neat Dear Mr. Jock. By the end of 1960 the group was back to being a quartet with Jerry Scholl, Bobby Scholl, Lou Jannacone, and Tony Pinto. Kid Stuff and I Promise from September ’60 both have their moments but if Valerie and Chip Chip weren’t going to hit, these certainly wouldn’t.
With doo-wop enjoying a second coming as early as 1961, the Mellokings could have been forgiven for thinking that they were finally in the right place as the right time. Penny is heavily stringed but the vocals are nice enough but it was their final Herald release in October where they hit their highest artistic heights since Tonite Tonite. Love At First Sight has everything a classic doo-wop record should have, relentless ooh-ah’s behind a lifting lead vocal. It’s a beauty and with Bobby Scholl sublime. Among the autographs he was signing at the time, the biggest was for a certain Uncle Sam, as he was drafted.
Tonite, Tonite / Do Baby Do Chapel On The Hill / Sassafras
Valerie / She's Real Cool Chip Chip / Running To You
Baby Tell Me (Why...) The Only Girl Our Love Is Beautiful
Dear Mr. Jock Kid Stuff I Promise
Penny Till There Was None Love At First Sight
Thrill Me Once on A Windy Day
The Counts (3) (Athens, Ga)
aka The Twisters (4)
Harry White (Waller)
Joseph L Haynesworth Jr.
The Twisters (4)
1961 - Please Come Back / This Is The End (Sun-Set 501)
The Counts( 3)
1961 - Twist'N All Night / Touch-Me (Sun-Set 502)
Sun-Set was a tiny label that only issued two singles. Two singles by the same group, but under two different names, The Counts & The Twisters…
The Twisters (4)
Please Come Back This Is The End
The Counts (3)
Touch-Me Twist'N All Night
Dion & The Belmonts (Bronx, New York)
Dion DiMucci (Lead)
Angelo D'Aleo (Tenor)
Fred Milano (Second Tenor)
Carlo Mastrangelo (Bass)
1957 - We Went Away / Tag Along (Mohawk 107)
1958 - I Wonder Why / Teen Angel (Laurie 3013)
1958 - No One Knows / I Can't Go On (Rosalie) (Laurie 3015)
1958 - Don't Pity Me / Just You (Laurie 3021)
1959 - A Teenager In Love / I've Cried Before (Laurie 3027)
1959 - Every Little Thing / A Lover's Prayer (Laurie 3035)
1959 - Where Or When / That's My Desire (Laurie 3044)
1960 - When You Wish Upon A Star / Wonderful Girl (Laurie 3052)
1960 - In The Stilll Of The Night / A Funny Feeling (Laurie 3059)
1966 - My Girl, the Month of may / Berimbau (ABC 10868)
1967 - Movin'man / For Bobby (ABC 10896)
Where Or When (Laurie LLEP 308)
1959 - Where Or When / You Better Not Do That / Wonderful Girl / That's My Desire
1960 – Faith (Laurie)
1960 - It Was Never Meant To Be (Laurie)
1959 - Presenting Dion & The Belmonts (LLP 1002/2002)
I Wonder Why / Where Or When / You Better Not Do That / Just You / I Got The Blues / Don't Pity Me / A Teenager In Love / Wonderful Girl / A Funny Feeling / I've Cried Before / That's My Desire / No One Knows
1960 - Wish Upon a Star With Dion and The Belmonts (LLP-2006)
When You Wish Upon A Star / In The Still Of The Night / A Lover's Prayer / My Private Joy / My Day / Swinging On A Star / All The Things You Are / It's Only A Paper Moon / In Other Words / I'm Through With Love / When The Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along / September Song
1963 - Dion & The Belmonts "Together" on Records (LLP-2016)
We Belong Together / Every Little Thing I Do / Meant To Be / Come Take A Walk With Me / Tag Along / Teen Angel / Such A Long Way / We Went Away / I Can't Go On (Rosalie) / That's How I Need You / Will You Love Me Still / Faith
1967 - Together again (ABCS-599)
Movin' Man / Berimbau / Come to My Side / All I Wanna Do / But Not for Me / New York Town / Loserville / For Bobbie / Jump Back Baby / Baby You've Been on My Mind / My Girl the Month of May
1972 - Dion & The Belmonts – Reunion Live At MSG 1972 (WB 2664)
The Wanderer / No One Knows / I Wonder Why / Teenager In Love / Ruby Baby / That's my Desire / Drip Drop / Where or When / Runaround Sue / Little Diane
From the working class neighborhood of the Bronx came one of the defining vocal groups of the late nineteen fifties. They were Dion & The Belmonts (named for a neighborhood street - Belmont Avenue), and the members were Dion DiMucci - lead, Fred Milano and Angelo D'Aleo on tenor, and Carlo Mastroangelo on bass. At first Dion and The Belmonts were separate entities although they seemingly traveled in the same circles in their neighborhood, and both first recorded for the small independent Mohawk label - Dion with "The Chosen Few" and "Out In Colorado" on #105 which sounded like a pair of tunes from a grandiose western movie, certainly not the type of songs from the central Bronx of 1957.
The Belmonts did not do much better with "Teenage Clementine" and "Santa Margarita" on #106 (who was picking these songs?). Neither record surfaced at all, and on Mohawk #107 both parts of the equation came together and Dion & The Belmonts recorded "We Went Away" and "Tag Along". The record drew another blank and that was the end of Mohawk Records as far as the newly formed vocal group was concerned.
Enter a newly formed record company called Laurie Records (was there a connection with Mohawk, or just neighbors in the same building on New York City's Broadway? ). In any event, whether it was a canny A & R man (maybe Sol Winkler or Ernie Maresca), luck, or divine guidance,the first release for the label by the group on Laurie #3013 "I Wonder Why" exploded on the street like a cannon shot. In my then neighborhood (Fox Street between 163rd and Southern Blvd in the Bronx) the tune was everywhere, coming out of every radio, every record player, every open car door.
These were our guys and they were hitting the big time. The flip side "Teen Angel" never got a play so dominant was the up tempo 'A' side. Every kid did his five-and-dime imitation of Carlo's stattaco bass intro and that became one of the signature sounds of the rock 'n' roll age. Dion & The Belmonts came off the starting line in full stride and never looked back. Waiting for a follow up, listeners were surprised by the choice of a sentimental ballad instead of the usual copy cat repeat of the hit. The tune "No One Knows" on #3015, was an earnest story of unrequited teenage love, and it was a winner as fans took to the ballad sound.
As for chart sales, it outdid their initial recording for Laurie, getting into the top twenty national pop charts which was a heady accomplishment for a doowop group in 1958 on their second try for the label. With that success, Laurie Records kept the group on track for a number of ballads, and all were successful in varying degrees proving out the direction that the group was taking. Now with a rocking hit and a ballad smash, the group hit the road for a period of extensive touring. They did a number of one nighters in the East and went out nationally on package tours around the country.
Just after the new year in 1959, the new release by the group was Laurie # 3021"Don't Pity Me" and "Just You". The sound of melancholy on "Don't Pity Me" worked for the group and it hit the national pop charts again although not as famously as the previous two records. In support of the new record, the group went out on a touring revue called "The Winter Dance Party" that played the Midwest. This show lives on in infamy because of the plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. (The Big Bopper) Richardson near Clear Lake, Iowa. By late spring Dion & The Belmonts were readying their new Laurie release on #3027, called "A Teenager In Love".
Once again the song struck a chord in the lives of so many of the listeners that lived the words of the tune, and as a result, sales for the record were phenomenal. A top five best seller and a pop chart record for four months, it was by far the biggest seller to date and the group was certainly a hot property. The song sung in tempo as midway between a ballad and a rocker was also great for dancing ( it had a good beat and . . . .).
At this time one of the inevitabilities of any comparable situation arose. There were forces at work to make Dion DiMucci a solo performer and to showcase his talent (and consequently to have a much fewer number of voices) inputting plans and ideas. But for the time being the group moved ahead on their next record. Immediately following the new year of 1960, the quartet went into the studio and tried their hand on a pop standard "Where Or When" which featured a lovely counter melody played on sax in the intro and ending. The interesting flip side was the group's take on The Channels version of the Frankie Laine pop hit of "That's My Desire" which featured impeccable harmony without the bombastic bass which was a feature of the original version on Whirlin Disc.
The record on Laurie #3044 was a huge success, dominating the pop charts in early 1960 and challenging for the top position on the national best sellers list (locked out of gaining the top spot by Percy Faith's MOR movie tune "Theme From A Summer Place"). It seemed that Dion & The Belmonts could do no wrong. Everything they put on record was a smash. In the spring they recorded a tune made famous by the Walt Disney movie "Pinnochio". The song was "When You Wish Upon A Star", and again the Belmonts and Dion made the charts though not anywhere as dominant a position as the two previous hits.
There was one more chart hit for the group that summer, "In The Still Of The Night" (the 1930s pop standard, not the Five Satins tune) on #3059. The successful formula that served the group so well for the last two years seemed to be played out now. The record barely charted, getting into the 30s just briefly. By the end of the year the split (mostly amicable according to those involved) took place, and Dion went out into the world as a solo performer and was signed as such by Laurie, while The Belmonts carried on with Carlo taking over the lead singing spot. Both parts of the act had a measure of fame and fortune - the Belmonts certainly must be classified as a moderate success, while Dion had some monumental hit records during the early sixties, with some of his tunes becoming teenage anthems that would last a lifetime.
I Wonder Why Where or When
A Teenager in Love Don't Pity Me
Would You Like to Swing on a Star