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The Poni-Tails

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The Poni-Tails


The wispy innocence of the Poni-Tails’ harmony has been heard on oldies radio for over thirty years thanks to one timely hit “Born Too Late.” A record about an older boy, “Born Too Late” is a rock and roll classic, a “girl group goldie,” and round the world favorite.


The trio of Toni Cistone (lead vocals), LaVerne Novak (high harmony), and Karen Topinka (low harmony) were students at Brush High School in Lynhurst, Ohio near Cleveland, when they started singing together in 1956. They performed at school functions and benefits, and it was at one of these shows that they were spotted by an attorney, John Jewitt, who gave them an introduction to music publisher Tom Illius. Illius liked the soft style of the trio and their original song “Que La Bozena.” Illius took them to the local Point Records, who issued their first single “Your Wild Heart” in January, 1957. Unfortunately, even innocence white girls were subjected to being covered. “Your Wild Heart” became a hit for Mercury artist Joy lane (#20) while the Version by the Poni-Tails, named for the hairstyle they wore at the time, became an instant collectible.

With Illius managing the group they had one more single with Marc Records “Can I Be Sure”.

Tony and LaVerne auditioned for a replacement for Karen when her father made her leave the group. They came up with former Regina High student Patti McCabe.

Illius got ABC Records’ Don Costa , later to produce/arrange for Paul Anka, Frankie Avalon, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and found DCP Records; interested in the group. ABC released “It’s Just My Luck To Be 15” by the end of 1957. It quickly disappeared.

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