Flashback 6/2/20

It was 48 years ago tonight (June 2nd, 1972) that Dion & The Belmonts reunited at New York City’s Madison Square Garden at an oldies show sponsored by local radio station WCBS-FM. Despite Dion DiMucci and the group briefly reuniting in 1967 for an ill-fated studio album, called Together Again, the Garden show was Dion’s first gig with the group in 12 years. Dion played acoustic guitar throughout the night and the group was backed by Billy Vera & The Beaters, who went on to score a 1986 Number One hit with “At This Moment.” A live album of the event was released the following year, titled Reunion: Live At Madison Square Garden.

Dion told us that it wasn’t quite the reunion he expected: [“Fred Milano and Carlo Mastrangelo showed up and they said that Angelo (D’Aleo) was sick. And Angelo says he wasn’t asked to be there. We went through with the show, because the Belmonts, they weren’t on the records, ‘The Wanderer’ and ‘Ruby Baby,’ they weren’t on a lot of those songs. When all was said and done and I listened to the album, I said, ‘Angelo’s gotta be on there, I can’t release this without his voice.’ (So) I kind of overdubbed him.”] SOUNDCUE (:23 OC: . . . of overdubbed him)

Dion & The Belmonts have performed several times over the years at various Dion solo shows. The Belmonts continued to perform with Fred Milano, who won the rights to the name from the others after a legal battle. Milano died on January 1st, 2012.

In 2005, Dion’s 1987 Radio City Music Hall concert was issued on CD as Dion And Friends Live In New York City. Performing alongside Dion and his band was Belmont Carlo Mastrangelo.

In 2016, Dion released New York Is My Home, featuring Paul Simon duetting with him on the title track.

Also out now is Dion’s long lost 1965 collection, Kickin’ Child, which was originally recorded for Columbia Records but left unreleased until now.

Set for release on Friday (June 5th) is Dion’s latest album, Dion’s Blues With Friends. The set includes collaborations with such heavyweights as Bruce Springsteen & Patti Scialfa, Paul Simon, Jeff BeckVan MorrisonBrian SetzerSteve Van ZandtJoe Bonamassa, and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.

FAST FACTS

  • Dion & The Belmonts helped bring white doo-wop from the Bronx to the national charts with such hits as “I Wonder Why” and “A Teenager In Love.” The group went on to tour nationally, and were co-headliners on the ill-fated “Winter Dance Party” tour that took the lives of Buddy HollyRitchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson on February 3rd, 1959.
  • Dion went solo from the group in 1960, and immediately scored with hits such as “The Wanderer,” “Runaround Sue,” “Donna The Prima Donna,” “Ruby Baby” — and later in the decade with “Abraham, Martin, And John.”
  • Throughout the years Dion has continued to perform in a number of genres, including rock, pop, country, gospel, and blues. He’s recorded and performed live with artists such as Phil SpectorBilly Joel, Lou ReedPaul SimonDave EdmundsBruce Springsteen, and Steven Van Zandt, among many others.
  • On January 1st, 2012, tenor Fred Milano died of lung cancer. Milano, a Bronx icon, lived in Massapequa, Long Island, and continued to perform while employed by the New York City Department of Correction — which he joined in 2003 after going back to college late in life — working with inmates at New York’s Rikers Island. Milano is survived by his wife, Lynn, two children and 10 grandchildren.
  • Dion posted a message on Facebook: “With everyone who loves the roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll, I’m mourning the loss of Freddie Milano. Fred played an important role in my younger life. He was a boyhood friend from the Bronx and one of the original members of Dion & The Belmonts. He was very savvy with harmonies. We had our ups and downs through the years but that’s how things go in families, even rock n’ roll families. I will always remain grateful for his contribution in 1958 & ’59 — may he rest in peace and rock on in heaven.”
  • Milano, who ended up owning the rights to the group’s name, reunited with Dion in 1967 for the ill-fated studio album, called Together Again, and for the group’s 1972 reunion at Madison Square Garden.
  • Carlo Mastrangelo died on April 4th, 2016 at age 78 following a long battle with cancer. Mastrangelo, who remained on good terms with Dion over the years, and occasionally took the stage with him, is survived by his wife, Lucille, a daughter, two grandchildren and on great-grandchild.