Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 18: Dion DiMucci- "Abraham, Martin and John," "Runaround Sue" - is 74-years-old today

Dion Francis DiMucci was born In the Bronx, New York. As a child, he used to accompany his father, a vaudeville entertainer, on tour, and developed a love of country music, and the blues and doo-wop stars he heard in local bars and on the radio. His singing was honed on the street corners and local clubs of the Bronx, where he and other neighborhood singers developed their unique a cappella sound.

In early 1957, he auditioned for Bob and Gene Schwartz, who had just formed Mohawk Records. They recorded Dion singing lead for a song that had been pre-recorded with only the lead part missing. The vocal group was called The Timberlanes. The single "The Chosen Few" was released under the name of Dion and the Timberlanes and became a minor regional hit. Dion stated in his book The Wanderer that he never  knew who The Timberlanes were.

Dion's friends, Carlo Mastrangelo, Fred Milano, and Angelo D'Aleo, formed a vocal group named for nearby Belmont Avenue, and teamed them, with Dion singing lead. The new group's breakthrough came in early 1958, when "I Wonder Why" made No. 22 on the U.S. charts, followed by "No One Knows" and "Don't Pity Me,” which also charted.

This success won Dion and the Belmonts a place on the "The Winter Dance Party" tour. On February 2, 1959, after a concert stop in Clear Lake, Iowa, Dion declined to join Buddy Holly and others on the flight that claimed their lives.

Dion and the Belmonts' next single, "A Teenager in Love,” hit No. 5 on the U.S. pop charts in 1959. Their biggest hit, "Where or When,”reached No. 3 on the U.S. charts. In early 1960, Dion checked in to hospital for heroin addiction. There were other problems between Dion and members of the Belmonts, and in October 1960, Dion launched a solo career.

By the end of 1960, Dion had released his first solo album on Laurie, Alone with Dion, and the single "Lonely Teenager,” which rose to No. 12 in the US charts. The name on his solo releases was simply "Dion.”

He then recorded "Runaround Sue with a new group, the The Del-Satins, which reached No. 1 in the U.S. in October 1961. His next single, "The Wanderer,” reached No. 2 in the U.S. in February 1962. By the end of 1961, Dion had become a major star, touring worldwide and making an appearance in the Columbia Pictures musical film Twist Around the Clock.

Dion followed with a string of singles – "Lovers Who Wander," "Little Diane," "Love Came To Me." At the end of 1962, Dion moved from Laurie to Columbia Records. The first Columbia single, "Ruby Baby"reached No. 2, while "Donna the Prima Donna" and "Drip Drop" both reached No. 6 in late 1963. His other Columbia releases were less successful, and problems with his addiction and changing public tastes saw his career stall. A number of self-penned tracks were recorded and released unsuccessfully as singles.

In 1966, Dion briefly reunited with The Belmonts for the album Together Again on ABC Records. The album was unsuccessful.

In April 1968, Dion experienced a powerful religious experience. After getting clean once again from heroin addiction, an experience he documented in his 1970 song "Your Own Backyard,” Laurie Records asked him to record the song "Abraham, Martin & John, which reached No. 4 in the US charts and No. 1 in Canada, and resuscitated Dion’s career.

In 2002 he was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for "Runaround Sue.” Today, Dion pursues prison ministry and reaches out to men going through addiction recovery. He is also a member of the American Board of Directors of
Renewal Ministries.

On January 24, 2012, he released a new album, Tank Full of Blues.


For more about Dion, visit his Website at -


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