The Mystics (1) aka The Overons
The Mystics (1) aka The Overons (Brooklyn, New York)
Phil Cracolici (Lead)
Albee Cracolici (Baritone)
George Galfo (Second Tenor)
Bob Ferrante (First Tenor)
Al Contrera (Bass)
1958 - The Bells Are Ringing (Unreleased)
1958 - Prayer To An Angel (Unreleased)
1958 - Why Do You Pretend (Unreleased)
1958 - Big Brown Eyes (Unreleased)
The Mystics (1)
1959 - Hushabye / Adam and Eve (Laurie 3028)
1959 - Don't Take The Stars / So Tenderly (Laurie 3038)
1959 - Wim O Weh (Unreleased)
1959 - Red Red Robbin (Unreleased)
1959 - In My Faithful Heart (Unreleased)
1959 - All Through The Night / I Began to Think of You (Laurie 3047)
1960 - White Cliffs of Dover / Blue Star (Laurie 3058)
1960 - Star Crossed Lovers / Goodby Mister Blues (Laurie 3086)
1961 - A sunday kind of love / Darling I know now (Laurie 3014)
1965 - In my faithful heart (Unreleased)
1982 - Now The Summer Is Here / Prayer To An Angel (Ambient Sound 02871)
N/A - Again (collectables LP 5043)
N/A - It's only a paper moon (collectables LP 5043)
N/A - Let me steal your heart away (collectables LP 5043)
N/A - Over the rainbow (collectables LP 5043)
N/A - Save A Dream (Unreleased)
Rusty Lane & The Mystics (1)
1961 - Karen / Come The Day (Laurie 3031)
Judy Allen bb the Mystics (1)
1959 - Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree / Sentimental Me (Laurie 3025)
Scott Garrett bb the Mystics (1)
1959 - Love Story / Graduation Souvenirs (Laurie 3029)
Rusty Lane bb the Mystics (1)
1959 - Karen / Come The Day (Laurie 3031)
Don Press bb the Mystics (1)
1959 - More Than Ever / Ask The Robin (Laurie 3036)
Rocky Hart bb the Mystics (1)
1959 - Come With Me (Cub 9052)
Connie Francis bb the Mystics (1)
1964 - Tommy (MGM13237)
Pete and Vinnie bb the Mystics (1)
1963 - Hand Clappin' Time Part 1 / Part 2 (Big Top 3155)
The Tradewinds bb the Mystics (1)
1965 - The Party Starts At Nine / Summertime Girl (Red Bird 3155)
The are so many great stories surrounding the great Brooklyn group - the Mystics. How they met, how they had a classic recording snatched away from them, how they bounced back with a huge hit of their own and how they survived over the years as one of those perennial favorites of the doo-wop era of music. Here's the story of this very interesting group.
In Brooklyn, there was a group of about 15-20 guys that hung around together singing on the street corner. "It all started when they started doing those rock and roll shows -you, know Alan Freed," recalls Phil Cracolici. "We used to go see the Valentines, Dion and the Belmonts, the Heartbeats, and dance in the aisles with the girls. Afterwards, we'd try to sing like those groups on the way home." Phil says "you know they say that back then there was guys singing on every streetcorner - that wasn't an exaggeration! No matter what street corner you'd go to - there were guys singing."
Out of that group of guys would emerge a number of great doo-wop talents and at least two memorable groups - the Passions and the Mystics. They would later help along the career of a third group - the Classics. And so it is that these three groups will be remembered together forever as the great Brooklyn threesome.
The Mystics came first. It all started around Bay Parkway and Cropsey Avenue they would sing. "Wherever we could get together," remembers Phil. Backstage behind the Lowe's theatre was a favorite because the echo was so good. Among the group of guys were: Tony Armato, Vinnie Acierno, Albie Galione, Nicki Lombardi, John Pungi, Joe Strobel, Allie Contrera, Bob Ferrante, Albie Cracolici, Phil Cracolici, and George Galfo.
Some time around 1957, Contrera, Ferrante, the Cracolicis, Galfo, Armato (who went onto the Passions), and Joe Strobel formed the Overons. They performed a bit and even recorded some unreleased material (see below). But that group split up. The Cracolicis, Contrera, Ferrante and Galfo would continue on under the Overons name.
They tried out for many agents and labels but kept getting rejected. "A lot of people made a lot of promises and took a lot of money from us," recalls George Galfo. Later they would try out at Broadway Studios in the Brill Building and catch the eye of Jim Gribble. "He loved the way we sounded," says Galfo. Phil recalls that Gribble said "I will get you a record contract." Gribble would take the group over to the now famous Laurie Records (Dion and the Belmonts' home) in early 1959 for an audition. "They gave us a contract right there and then," says Phil. Instead of the Overons, they would have to change their name. George Galfo recalls that the group threw possible names into a canister or hat and out came "Mystics" - Contrera's choice.
Laurie wheeler-dealers Gene and Bob Schwartz called in the immortal songwriting team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman to write the group's first song. And what a great song they wrote. None other than Teenager in Love. The song was so good that Dion heard it and claimed it for his own. And so it was that Teenager in Love was recorded by Dion and the Belmonts and not the Mystics.
The Mystics weren't all that unhappy. "We were just kids, we didn't care. We knew we were going to record," says Phil. The Schwartz's sent Pomus and Shuman (who the guys knew from their neighborhood) back to work and wrote the lovely "Hushabye" in one day! In the vein of the Elegants' Little Star, Hushabye was the classic lullaby transformed into the standard white doo-wop arrangement. Sugar sweet lyrics and harmonies, soft beautiful lead, charming musical score. "We took the subway down to the studios and they started playing it for us on the piano," says Phil. "The Schwartz brothers said 'wow - that's a hit.'" It was released on Laurie in April 1959 and hit number 20. It established the Mystics as one of the premier white doo-wop groups of the time. The bad part for the Mystics was that, at the time the group's song was hitting in New York, they were in the midwest on tour. They couldn't get back in time to promote their subsequent songs.
[A side note - there is no truth to the legendary story that Hushabye was also to be a Belmonts tune but that the Belmonts got stuck in a snowstorm and couldn't record it. This song was to be the Mystics from the start].
Following its success, Galfo recalls that "we were in la-la- land." "You just don't know how to appreciate it. It just came so fast and furious. If I could do it over again I would appreciate how it happened." The success of Hushabye generated some memorable shows for the group. Alan Freed's show at the Brooklyn Fox Theatre was incredible - these guys were kids watching the show just a few months earlier and now they are the star. "That was a dream come true," remembers Phil. "You got all your friends in the neighborhood calling out your name." And the group got close to some of the other entertainers at the time like Jackie Wilson and some of the other white doo-wop groups of the time like the Skyliners and Crests. Phil recalls going the first tour after The Day the Music Died when we lost Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens. "We went to the same locations, we saw the airport where they took off." Phil also remembers a show where the kids rushed the stage and some girl cut a piece of his hair off. "Good thing it was in the back 'cause I had the big pompadour."
The group followed up with the a nice rockin ballad entitled Don't Take the Stars which barely cracked the Top 100.
In 1960, the famous Paul Simon (aka Jerry Landis) would join the group on backup on All Through the Night which didn't make it into the Top 100 but received some nice reviews especially on the East coast. The group followed with three more recordings - Blue Star (keeping in the heavenly doo-wop vein with Jay Traynor on lead), Goodbye Mr. Blues and a remake of the Harptones' Sunday Kind of Love. After their brief six record career, the group disbanded.
Throughout the years, there have been many contemporary versions of the group that have kept the Mystics sound and memories alive. In 1982, a version featuring the Cracolicis, Contrera, and Ferrante did a great record for Ambient Sound that included a new version of Hushabye called Hushabye My Darling. A nice tribute to this great Brooklyn group.
The Mystics (1)
Let me steal your heart away Again
Adam and Eve Hushabye
Over the rainbow All Through The Night
Rusty Lane & The Mystics (1)
Karen Come the day
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