Dion and the Belmonts

Greatly Appreciated


Dion and the Belmonts  were a leading American vocal group of the late 1950’s.  The group formed when Dion DiMucci, their lead singer joined The Belmonts in late 1957.  The breakthrough came when their very first Laurie release, “I Wonder Why”, and they appeared for the first time on the nationally televised American Bandstand show, hosted by Dick Clark.  In March 1959, Dion and the Belmonts’ “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.  (More from Wikipedia)
Dion DiMucci was one of the leading rock and rollers of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, and his work still sounds great to me to this day.  He was the front man for Dion and the Belmonts and had several hits beginning with “I Wonder Why” in 1958.  On the strength of their early success, they were brought along on the Winter Dance Party with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper.  At one stop, Holly chartered a plane to get to the next date on the tour; but Dion turned down the offered ride, saying that he couldn't afford the $36 cost.  On February 3, 1959, the plane crashed in a cornfield in Iowa, killing Holly, Valensthe Big Bopper, and the pilot.  (Waylon Jennings, who was in Buddy Holly’s band at the time, also decided against getting on the plane). 
Further hits followed for Dion and the Belmonts, including “A Teenager in Love” – considered by many to be one of the greatest rock and roll songs ever – and the Rodgers and Hart show tune “Where or When”.  
(September 2012)
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At the top of the list of “might have been” in rock and roll has to be the crash on February 3, 1959 in an Iowa cornfield of a small airplane carrying three early rockers to their graves:  Buddy HollyRitchie Valens, and The Big Bopper.  The stories around this tragic event include those about several men who were not on the plane for one reason or another, most famously future country music star Waylon Jennings, who had recently joined Buddy Holly’s band after the break-up of his previous band the Crickets.  Also, Dion DiMucci (of Dion and the Belmonts) couldn’t afford the $36 cost, so he also decided not to board the plane. 


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Ritchie Valens follow-up single, “Donna” was completely different and became a bonafide hit, peaking at #2 on the charts at the end of 1958.  “Donna” inspired a host of other songs addressed to female loves, most directly Dion’s “Donna the Prima Donna” (Dion and the Belmonts were also along on the Winter Dance Party), but also Neil Sedaka’s “Oh, Carol!” and “Denise” by Randy and the Rainbows (later covered by Blondie as “Denis”). 

(June 2013/1)
Last edited: March 22, 2021