Dion and the Belmonts were a leading American vocal group of the late 1950s. All members were from the Bronx, New York City. The group formed when Dion DiMucci, lead singer (born July 18, 1939), joined The Belmonts – Carlo Mastrangelo, bass-baritone (born October 5, 1938), Fred Milano, second tenor (August 22, 1939 – January 1, 2012), and Angelo D'Aleo, first tenor (born February 3, 1940), in late 1957.
In de lente van 1958 helpen Gene Schwartz en Bob Schwartz hen aan een platencontract bij Laurie Records. Omdat de groep vaak oefende op Belmont Avenue werd hun groepsnaam aangepast en heetten ze voortaan Dion and The Belmonts. Hun eerstel nummer "I wonder why", een up-tempo doo wopper, kreeg hitcijfer 22 op zijn palmares en ook de opvolger "No one knows" werd meer dan een doordeweekse meevaller. Eén maand voordat Buddy Holly, Richie Valens en The Big Bopper zouden omkomen bij een vliegtuigongeval, trokken Dion and The Belmonts met hen op tournee. In de maand mei van 1959 scoorde ze een grote hit met het door Doc Pomus en Mort Shuman geschreven "A teenager in love".
After an unsuccessful single on Mohawk Records in 1957, the group signed with Laurie Records in early 1958. The breakthrough came when their very first Laurie release, "I Wonder Why" reached No. 22 on the Billboard Top 100 charts, and they appeared for the first time on the nationally televised American Bandstand show, hosted by Dick Clark. They followed up with the ballads "No One Knows" (No. 19) and "Don’t Pity Me" (No. 40), which they also performed on Bandstand.
This early success brought Dion and the Belmonts their first major tour in late 1958, with The Coasters, Buddy Holly and Bobby Darin. It was followed by the historic, "Winter Dance Party" tour featuring Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. On February 2nd 1959, after playing the Surf Ballroom, Holly arranged to charter a plane. Dion decided he couldn't afford the $36 cost to fly to the next venue. "$36 seemed like an awful lot of money to me," he said, and told Holly, no. Shortly after midnight, on February 3rd 1959, the plane crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa, with Holly, Valens, The Big Bopper, and the pilot, Roger Peterson, all being killed. Bobby Vee, then an unknown artist, performed in Holly’s place at the very next concert. Later, Jimmy Clanton, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian were hired to finish the tour in place of the three deceased headliners.
In March 1959, Dion and the Belmonts’ next single, "A Teenager in Love", broke the Top Ten, reaching No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 28 on the UK Singles Charts. Written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, it's considered one of the greatest songs in Rock and Roll history. It was followed by their first album, "Presenting Dion and the Belmonts". Their biggest hit, "Where or When", was released in November 1959, and reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the group making another national appearance on American Bandstand. The flip side, "That's My Desire", although never charting nationally, is as well known in many areas, especially New York City.
Other singles released for the group that year continued to chart Billboard but were less successful. In early 1960, Dion checked into a hospital for heroin addiction, a problem he had since his mid-teens. In addition, there were financial and musical differences between Dion and members of the Belmonts. "They wanted to get into their harmony thing, and I wanted to rock and roll," said Dion. In October 1960, DiMucci decided to quit for a solo career. Now simply known as "Dion", his first major hit, "Lonely Teenager" was backed by a female chorus . He eventually chose to work with The Del-Satins, who backed him (uncredited) on all his early Laurie and Columbia Records hits, such as "The Wanderer", "Runaround Sue", "Ruby Baby", and "Donna the Prima Donna". Later reissues of these songs would often be erroneously attributed to Dion and the Belmonts. The Belmonts also continued to release records on their own label, Sabina Records, but with less success.Dion and the Belmonts reunited in late 1966 for the album Together Again on ABC Records, which was unsuccessful. Two singles were released from the LP, "My Girl The Month of May" / "Berimbau", and "Movin' Man" / "For Bobbie". Neither charted in the United States, but fared better in England. "My Girl The Month of May" peaked at #18 the week of December 18, 1966 on the "Radio London FAB 40" charts, while "Movin' Man" scored at #38 the week of March 19, 1967 in the UK.
During their brief mid 60's reunion they appeared on the popular "Clay Cole Show" performing "Berimbau" and "My Girl The Month of May", and occasionally performed at local New York City clubs such as "The Mardi Gras" on Staten Island (April 29, 1967) before disbanding. The original group reunited once again June 2, 1972 for a show at Madison Square Garden, which was recorded and released as a live album for Warner Brothers. A year later, in 1973, DiMucci, Mastrangelo, Milano and D'Aleo performed once more, doing a sold out concert at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, New York. No recording of the 1973 reunion was ever released.
In 1968, as a solo performer, Dion recorded "Abraham, Martin and John" written by Dick Holler. It is a tribute to social change icons, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. It was written as a response to the assassination of King and the younger Kennedy in April and June of 1968. When producer Phil Gernhard initially presented the song to DiMucci, the latter didn't care for it. With the persistence of Gernhard, and Dion's wife Susan, he flew to New York that summer. He recorded just one take and history was made. Laurie Records released the single in September of that year and it quickly raced up the charts, peaking at number four in November. DiMucci was invited to sing his new hit on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”, as well as many other top shows, and Dion was once again a star.
In 2000, Dion and the Belmonts were inducted in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.