Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat


How come clean-cut singer Dion appeared on the cover of the ‘Sgt Pepper’ sleeve and Elvis didn’t? Simple - The Beatles didn’t choose him, he was the choice of sleeve designer Peter Blake.

Dion DiMucci Vocalist Dion DiMucci was born in The Bronx, New York on 18th July 1939 and began singing at the age of five. When he was ten his father bought him a guitar and by the age of 12 he had amassed a collection of 70 Hank Williams singles, memorising every song. He made his debut disc, ‘The Chosen Few’ in 1959 with a group of singers called The Timberlanes, but preferred to have his own backing band and found various singers on the street corners in his neighbourhood. He engaged Fred Milano and Angelo D’Aleo (tenor vocals) and Carlo Mastrangelo (bass vocals) to join him as The Belmonts, named after Belmont Avenue in The Bronx. When D’Aleo was conscripted, the group continued as a trio.

Hits by Dion & The Belmonts included ‘I Wonder Why’ (22), ‘No One Knows Me’ (9), ‘Don’t Pity Me’ (40), ‘A Teenager In Love’ (5), ‘Where Or When’ (3), ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ (30) and ‘In The Still Of The Night’ (38). The group then split up in 1960, with Dion going solo and The Belmonts continuing to record on another record label. The Belmonts had a number of hits on their own, including ‘Tell Me Why’ (18) and ‘Come On Little Angel’ (28). Dion co-wrote one of his biggest hits, the chart-topper ‘Runaround Sue’, and then married the real life Sue who had inspired the song.

His other hits included ‘The Wanderer’ (2), ‘Lovers Who Wander’ (3), ‘Little Diane’ (8), ‘Love Came To Me’ (10), ‘Ruby Baby' (2), ‘Donna The Prima Donna’ (6) and ‘Drip Drop’ (6). During the height of his popularity in the Sixties he was appearing in films such as ‘Teenage Millionaire’, ‘Don’t Knock The Twist’, ‘Twist Around The Clock’ and ‘Ten Girls Ago.’ Unfortunately, in the mid-Sixties, he became hooked on drugs but managed to kick the habit in 1968 with the help of his father-in-law and returned to the charts the same year with ‘Abraham, Martin And John’ (4).

In 1972 he was reunited with The Belmonts for a concert at Madison Square Garden. The concert was recorded and issued as an album called ‘Reunion.’ In 1975 Phil Spector produced Dion’s hit single ‘Born To Be With You.’ At the onset of the Eighties he recorded a series of gospel albums and continued his musical voyage as a solo artist with ‘King of the New York Streets’ an acclaimed three CD box set.

Dion was nominated for a Grammy in 1985 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. He is still an active concert performer, evoking interest in his latest releases as well as a back catalogue of hits. His ‘Deju Vu’ album was issued in July 2000, followed by ‘Born to Be With You’ in April 2001, ‘Dion: New Masters’ in May 2003; ‘Dion:70s: From Acoustic To The Wall of Sound’ in June 2004; ‘Dion & Friends Live In New York City’ in August 2005 and his ‘Bronx In Blue’ album, released in January 2006 was nominated in 2006 for a Grammy Award as ‘Best Traditional Blues Album’.

He’d begun singing in the doo wop style, progressed to ballads, folk music, R&B, Christian music, gospel and blues, a versatile artist and performer who, in more than 45 years as a successful performing and recording artist, has achieved legendary status.

Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

Article Text Bill Harry               Original Graphics SixtiesCity     Other individual owner copyrights may apply to Photographic Images

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