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Dion

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Biography

Dion Francis DiMucci (b July 18, 1939), better known as Dion, is an Italian-American now widely recognized as one of the top vocalists of his era, blending the best elements of , traditional , and styles, as well as a forerunner in the development of .

Early years

Dion was born to an Italian-American family in the Bronx borough of New York City. As a child, he used to accompany his father, a vaudeville entertainer, on tour, and developed a love of country music – particularly Hank Williams – and the blues and doo-wop stars he heard in local bars and on the radio. His singing abilities were honed on the street corners of Crotona Avenue, where he rounded up other local singers inventing acapella licks, and in local clubs.

In early 1957 he auditioned for Bob and Gene Schwartz, who had just formed Mohawk Records. They recorded him with a vocal group, The Timberlanes, and released a single “The Chosen Few”, arranged by Hugo Montenegro, which became a minor regional hit.


With the Belmonts, 1957-1960

Schwartz also signed up Dion’s friends, The Belmonts, named after nearby Belmont Avenue. Their breakthrough together came in early 1958, when “I Wonder Why” made # 22 on the national US charts, followed up with “No One Knows” and “Don’t Pity Me” which were also chart hits.

This success won Dion and the Belmonts a place on the “Winter Dance Party” tour with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. On 2 February 1959, after playing at Clear Lake, Iowa, Dion decided that he could not afford the $36 cost of a flight to the next venue [1]. The plane crashed, and Holly and the other stars were killed.

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