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Over The Rainbow
Lenny Del Giudice came by his affection for vintage pop standards naturally. Dad Lou Del Giudice was a professional musician, his experience coming in handy when he assumed the managerial reins for his son's vocal group.
Lead singer Lenny and his pal, baritone/bass Howie Margolin, teamed up in 1957 at Columbus High in the Bronx. First tenor Charlie Peterson and soprano Marisa Martelli were fellow choral group members. The quartet went pro after graduation in 1960, calling themselves The Demensions (Margolin's idea). Lenny changed his surname to a compact Dell for show biz. Papa Lou had played at the Copa with Mohawk Records owner Irving Spice, greasing the wheels for a Mohawk contract.
Just before The Demensions' first Mohawk session, Peterson quit to attend college. Lenny's mom suggested replacing him with Phil Del Giudice - Lenny's uncle! Despite the sizable age gap, it worked out fine. The Demensions updated the immortal Over The Rainbow, written by Harold Arlen and lyricist Yip Harburg for Judy Garland to croon in the 1939 film classic 'The Wizard Of Oz' (the song won an Oscar). The Demensions and arranger Seymour Barab didn't do anything crazy with the beloved standard, giving it a smooth ballad interpretation with Spice leading the orchestra and leaving any up-tempo aspirations for the B-side, Lenny and Howie's Nursery Rhime Rock (as Laurie-distributed Mohawk misspelled it).
Released in May of 1960, Over The Rainbow gave The Demensions a hit their first time out, sailing to #16 pop that summer. The quartet stuck with a diet of MOR chestnuts on their next two Mohawk releases, Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart (rendered perkily up-tempo) and Ave Maria. Marisa wrote and fronted their last Mohawk outing, A Tear Fell. Spice sold their contract to Coral before 1961 was done. Over the next five years, Coral issued 11 singles and an LP, but only a remake of My Foolish Heart impacted the pop charts at #95 in March of '63. Martelli left to get married and The Demensions were no more.
Various - Street Corner Symphonies 1960 Vol.12
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