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The Fascinators

Oh Rose Marie

He wasn't in a position of A&R power at Atlantic Records anymore, but Jesse Stone still provided a guiding hand when needed. He led the band behind The Fascinators on their third and final single for Capitol, Oh Rose Marie.

Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant section spawned the multi-racial group, led by teenaged Tony Passalacqua. Tenors Nick Travato and Eddie Wheeler, baritone Angelo La Greca, and bass George Cernacek rounded out the quintet. Manager Jim Fererri steered the group to Capitol, which reportedly would have preferred to sign Tony as a solo. With Manny Kellem producing and Sid Bass conducting, the quintet debuted in 1958 with a Passalacqua-penned Chapel Bells (his I Wonder Who was the flip). They encored in January of '59 with Who Do You Think You Are, another Passalacqua composition, b/w the group-generated Come To Paradise.

Stone took over at the musical helm for the bouncy Oh Rose Marie, Kellem holding the producer's chair. The entire group dreamed up the tune; Tony's lead is bright and clear, his pals providing muscular harmonies. Stone's delectable Fried Chicken And Macaroni was served up on the B-side when the single hit the shelves in July.

That was it for The Fascinators, but Passalacqua's musical odyssey was just beginning. He was spotlighted in a new group, Tony Richards & The Twilights, who waxed Please Believe In Me for Colpix in 1960 and encored the next year with Summer's Coming (the flip, Shout My Name, was an early Jeff Barry copyright). He changed his surname again to Tony Mitchell when he cut A Million Drums for Canadian American. Tony later sang with The Soul Survivors before they got hot. He also spent a brief stretch with those musical comic book refugees, The Archies. 

- Bill Dahl -

Various Street Corner Symphonies 1959 Vol.11

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