(Collectables) 18 tracks
Relatively few 1950's vocal groups are fortunate enough to be remembered nearly 25 years after their rise to popularity, but such is the case for Johnny Maestro and the Crests. So talented and successful were the Crests that their late fifties records like 16 Candles, The Angels Listened In and Step By Step are still a part of every radio station's oldies programming.
The Crests story began in 1956 on New York City's lower East side when foUr Black youth, J.T. Carter, Talmadge Gough, Harold Torres and Patricia Van Dross teamed up with a young White lead named Johnny Mastroangelo. After singing together for about a year, the group's first break came in 1957 when they signed with Al Browne's 'Joyce' label. The Crests' first record, My Juanita backed with Sweetest One was moderately popular in the New York area but in no way approached the success of the group's later records. After an unsuccessful second release on Joyce, the Crests signed with the COED label in 1958.
By this time; Pat Van Dross, the only female in the group, decided to give up singing, leaving just the four young men, The Crests' first release for COED, Pretty Little Angel was by no means the national hit the group was looking for but it received enough attention to warrant a second COED release by the Crests. That second release was 16 Candles, one of the most popular rock & roll ballads of all time. Much of the success of "16 Candles" must be credited to Dick Clark who gave the record extensive play on American Bandstand.
With the popularity of 16 Candles the Crests soon found themselves making TV appearances and touring with the biggest name acts in the country. Over the next three years, hit followed hit for the Crests. Songs like Six Nights A Week, Flower of Love, The Angels Listened In, A Year Ago Tonight, Step By Step, Gee, and Trouble in Paradise kept the group at the top of the charts and in constant demand for public appearances. Late in 1960, following the release of Journey of Love and a couple of successful records, Johnny Maestro and Crests broke up. Johnny Maestro, being groomed by COED as a solo artist struck out on his own.
After several years of solo releases for a variety of labels, Johnny resurfaced in 1968 as the lead of the popular vocal group Brooklyn Bridge. The remaining Crests continued recording until 1964, when they called it quits. This album captures the magic of the golden years for Johnny Maestro and the Crests.
Charlie Homer - Saturdays 1-3 PM, WXPN (88.9 FM) Philadelphia