... he died March 24, 2010.
Born John Mastrangelo in New York City, Johnny Maestro began his career in 1957 as the original lead singer of The Crests, one of the first interracial groups of the recording industry. Patricia Van Dross, older sister to famed R&B singer Luther Vandross sang with Johnny Maestro during his tenure as lead vocalist with The Crests.
After a regional hit with "My Juanita"/"Sweetest One" on the Joyce label, and two years of chart success on Coed Records with "16 Candles," "Step by Step," "The Angels Listened In," and "Trouble in Paradise," Maestro left The Crests for a solo career. Maestro was unable to reach his former chart heights with The Crests, but did have Top 40 hits with "What A Surprise" and "Model Girl" in 1961.
By 1967, another New York vocal group called The Del-Satins—who had become well-known in the New York area - had made several non-charting recordings between 1959 and 1967 under their own name, and were also noted for backing up Dion on his post-Belmonts recordings—were looking for a new lead singer. Members of the group ran into Maestro at a local gym, playing his guitar, and approached him with the offer to join the group. After initially turning them down, Maestro's manager, Betty Sperber, called Cauchi and told him Maestro had changed his mind.
In 1968, Sperber, owner and founder of the talent management and booking agency Action Talents in New York City, was hosting her once a month Battle of the Bands talent search at the Cloud Nine nightclub in Long Island and brought Maestro along as the evening's special guest star. Action Talents' Vice President and General Manager Alan White suggested that Maestro be backed up that night by a seven-piece brass-filled group of youngsters called The Rhythm Method.
That night's performance was such a success that the next day Sperber decided to combine the talents of Maestro, the four Del-Satins, and The Rhythm Method. The new group's name came about after White made the off-handed comment that "it would be easier to sell the Brooklyn Bridge" than book the proposed 11-piece act.
|The Brooklyn Bridge|
reached No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart. It sold over one and a quarter million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A..
The group's follow up, "Welcome Me Love," and its flip side, "Blessed is the Rain" each reached the Top 50. "You'll Never Walk Alone" and the controversial "Your Husband, My Wife" also reached the middle ranges of the charts. The group sold over 10 million records by 1972, including LP sales, mostly produced by Wes Farrell.
The Brooklyn Bridge downsized to a five-man group, with the vocalists playing their own instruments. For example, Maestro could be seen on stage playing rhythm guitar. The later version of the Brooklyn Bridge released a Christmas EP in 1989 and a greatest hits compilation in 1993, re-recording Maestro's hits with The Crests.
In the early 1990s, Maestro moonlighted as the background tenor on Joel Katz's studio project CD Joel & the Dymensions (which also featured baritone-bass Bobby Jay). In 1994, The Brooklyn Bridge recorded a 10-song a cappella CD.
Recently, the Brooklyn Bridge was featured in one of PBS's biggest fundraising events ever, "Doo Wop 50," performing both "16 Candles" and "The Worst That Could Happen"; the entire program was released on VHS and DVD. In 2005, the Brooklyn Bridge released a full concert-length DVD as part of the Pops Legends Live series. They continue to tour and in 2004 released a CD on the Collectables label titled Today, featuring more re-recordings of their hits and versions of other groups' songs of the 1950s and 1960s.
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The Brooklyn Bridge was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame with the Class of 2005, the South Carolina Music (Rhythm & Blues) Hall of Fame in May 2006 the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15, 2006.
In 2007, Collectables Records reissued the Brooklyn Bridge album Peace on Earth as Songs of Inspiration. On March 31, 2009, the album Today, Volume 2 was released on CD by Collectables Records.
Johnny Maestro died on March 24, 2010 from cancer in Cape Coral, Florida at age 70.