The Tonettes (1) aka The Claremonts
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
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