Tony Orlando

Last updated

Tony Orlando
Tony Orlando crop.jpg
Orlando in September 2014
Background information
Birth nameMichael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis
Born (1944-04-03) April 3, 1944 (age 77)
Origin New York City, New York
Genres Pop
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, producer, music executive, actor
Years active1959–present
Associated acts
Website Official site

Michael Anthony "Tony" Orlando Cassavitis (born April 3, 1944) is an American singer, songwriter, producer, music executive, and actor. He is best known for his work as part of Tony Orlando and Dawn as well as their 1970s recordings and television show. His career in the music industry has spanned over 60 years.

Contents

Orlando formed the doo-wop group The Five Gents in 1959 at the age of 15, with whom he recorded demos that got the attention of music publisher and producer Don Kirshner. At the age of 17, in 1961, Orlando released the song "Ding Dong" on the MILO record label. Kirshner hired him to write songs at 1650 Broadway, Manhattan as part New York's thriving Brill Building songwriting community, along with other songwriters Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Toni Wine, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Bobby Darin, Connie Francis, and Tom and Jerry, who did not make it in the office until they later changed their name to Simon and Garfunkel. [1] Orlando was also hired to sing on songwriter demos, and singles released with Orlando as a solo artist began to enter the charts in the US and the UK beginning in 1961 with "Halfway to Paradise" and "Bless You" when he was 16. [2] Orlando continued as a solo artist and also became a producer himself, as well as a successful music executive in the late 1960s. He was hired by Clive Davis as the general manager of Columbia Records' publishing imprint, April-Blackwood Music in 1967, and by the late 1960s had been promoted to vice-president of Columbia/CBS Music.

In 1969, Orlando signed Barry Manilow to his first recording contract with Bell Records, co-writing with him and producing Manilow's earliest tracks. He also worked with other artists, such as The Yardbirds, James Taylor, Grateful Dead, Blood Sweat and Tears, and Laura Nyro. [1] [3] He recorded "Candida" as lead vocalist under the pseudonym "Dawn" in 1970, and when the song became an international number-one song, he began to use his name in the group becoming "Dawn featuring Tony Orlando" and then "Tony Orlando and Dawn". The group had 19 other top 40 tracks, including "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree", the top-selling hit of 1973 and one of the biggest selling singles of all time. The group also had a hit variety program, The Tony Orlando and Dawn Show on CBS from 1974 to 1976. [4] They then broke up in 1978, after which he has performed as Tony Orlando.

In 1993 he opened the Tony Orlando Yellow Ribbon Music Theatre in Branson, Missouri. He ended his act there in 2013. He has since continued to perform many live shows as a headliner, mostly in Las Vegas, Nevada. [5]

Early life and career

Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis was born on April 3, 1944, the son of a Greek father and a Puerto Rican mother. He spent his earliest years in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, New York. In his teenage years, the family moved to Union City, New Jersey, and later Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. [6]

Orlando's musical career started with The Five Gents, a doo-wop group he formed in 1959 at age 15, with whom he recorded demo tapes. He got the attention of music publisher and producer Don Kirshner, who hired him to write songs in an office across from New York's Brill Building, along with Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Toni Wine, Barry Mann, Bobby Darin, Connie Francis, and Tom and Jerry, who didn't make it in the office until they changed their name to Simon and Garfunkel. [1] Kirshner also hired Orlando to record songwriter demos as a solo artist, and his first success came at the age of 16 when he charted in the US and UK with the hits "Bless You" and "Halfway To Paradise." [7] He also appeared at the Brooklyn Paramount Theater with DJ Murray the K. [8] Orlando also had four records that "Bubbled Under" the Hot 100: "Chills" in 1962, "Shirley" and "I'll Be There" in 1963, and "I Was A Boy (When You Needed A Man)" as by Billy Shields in April 1969. [9] Gerry Goffin and Jack Keller wrote a doo-wop version of Stephen Foster's song "Beautiful Dreamer" for Orlando. Released as a single in 1962, [10] the song was picked up by the Beatles who included it in their set lists on the Beatles Winter 1963 Helen Shapiro Tour; [11] a recorded version was released on their 2013 album On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2 .

New Colony Six recorded an Orlando composition, "I'm Just Waitin' (Anticipatin' For Her To Show Up)", which charted locally in Chicago and "Bubbled Under" the Hot 100 in July 1967. That year, Clive Davis hired Orlando as general manager of Columbia Records publishing subsidiary April-Blackwood Music. By the late 1960s, Orlando had worked his way up to vice president of a larger publishing company, CBS Music, where he signed, co-wrote with and produced Barry Manilow (under the name "Featherbed") and worked with James Taylor, the Grateful Dead, Laura Nyro and other artists. [12] [13] In the summer of 1969 he recorded with the studio group Wind and had a #28 hit that year with "Make Believe" on producer Bo Gentry's Life Records. Orlando was experiencing success, primarily as a music executive, and Davis pretended not to notice when Orlando accepted a $3,000 advance and sang lead vocals on a song called "Candida" as a favor for two producer friends. If the record failed, Orlando didn't want it to affect his reputation, so he used a pseudonym: Dawn. [14] [15]

Tony Orlando and Dawn

Orlando recorded the record "Candida", with backup singers including Toni Wine (who wrote the song) and Linda November. Concerned about a possible conflict of interest with his April-Blackwood duties, Orlando sang under the condition that his name not be associated with the project, so it was released under the simple name of "Dawn", the middle name of the daughter of Bell records executive Steve Wax. [16]

"Candida" became a worldwide hit in 1970, reaching number one in five countries, and the top ten in many others, including number 3 in the USA. [17] Dawn, with Wine and November again singing backup, recorded another song, "Knock Three Times", which itself became a #1 hit. Orlando then wanted to go on tour, and asked two other session singers, Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson to join for the tour. Orlando then discovered that there were six touring groups using that name, so Dawn became "Dawn featuring Tony Orlando", which changed to Tony Orlando and Dawn in 1973.

The new group recorded more hits, including "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" (1973) and "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)" (1975), a cover of the Jerry Butler hit, "He Will Break Your Heart". With a successful recording career, Orlando then set his sights on television. As described in The San Francisco Chronicle , "Tony Orlando and Dawn burst out of television sets during the Ford administration, a sunny antidote to the dark cynicism that followed Watergate. He represented simple, traditional values, a conservative return to pure entertainment. He drew a happy face in the "O" of his autograph. It was not terribly cool, but America loved him." [8] The Tony Orlando and Dawn Show on CBS became a hit, a summer replacement for the Sonny & Cher show, and ran for four seasons from 1974 to 1976. [18] It welcomed the biggest names in show business each week as Orlando's guests, including his boyhood idols, Jackie Gleason and Jerry Lewis.

At the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, Orlando danced to the tune of "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" with then First Lady Betty Ford. The media stated that it was to divert attention as Nancy Reagan entered the Kemper Arena convention hall. However, in Orlando's book Halfway to Paradise, he states that Mrs. Reagan was asked what her favorite song was, which happened to be "Tie a Yellow Ribbon", so it was chosen as her entrance song. Ronald Reagan unsuccessfully challenged Gerald Ford, for the presidential nomination that year but came back in 1980 to claim the presidency itself. Ray Barnhart, a Reagan co-manager from Texas, criticized Mrs. Ford for having "danced a jig" with Orlando. Barbara Staff, another Texas co-chairman, called Betty Ford's behavior "a low, cheap shot". [19]

On October 12, 2015, with Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson present, Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters honored Orlando with their Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award at a celebrity luncheon.

Late 1970s struggles and Solo work

Along with the fame, Orlando had personal battles in the 1970s. He was briefly addicted to cocaine, and battled both obesity and depression. In 1977, due to the death of his sister, and the suicide of Orlando's close friend, comedian Freddie Prinze, Orlando had a breakdown, and retired from singing. [20] He was briefly institutionalized, but returned to television with an NBC comeback special. From then, he continued as a solo artist, charting with two singles - the dance hit "Don't Let Go" in 1978 and "Sweets For My Sweet" in 1979. In the 1980s, he was a dominant force in Las Vegas, headlining various hotels with sold-out audiences. Orlando has continued primarily as a solo singer, performing on tour and regularly in Las Vegas and Branson, Missouri. [21] He hosted the New York City portions of the MDA Labor Day Telethon on WWOR-TV since the 1980s but quit in 2011 in response to Jerry Lewis' firing from the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He has won the Casino Entertainer of the Year Award, the Best All Around Entertainer - Las Vegas four times, and, prior to that, three times in Atlantic City, the Jukebox Artist of the Year Award from the Amusement and Music Owners Association of New York, The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and has also been bestowed with The Bob Hope Award for excellence in entertainment from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society in honor of his efforts on behalf of United States veterans. His work on behalf of American veterans led to his being named Honorary Chairman at the 40th Anniversary at the NAM-POW's Homecoming Celebration at the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library in 2014.

Orlando serves on the Board of Directors for the Eisenhower Foundation as well as Honorary Chairman of Snowball Express, an organization that serves the children of fallen military heroes. Orlando also hosts the Congressional Medal of Honor dinner every year in Dallas, Texas. He has also served as the Master of Ceremonies at the Secretary of Defense Freedom Awards at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Orlando has headlined around the world and entertained for five U.S. presidents. He is a recipient of three American Music Awards and two People's Choice Awards for best male entertainer. For outstanding achievements to the entertainment industry, Orlando was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. [18]

Acting career

Orlando's first TV appearance was in 1976 on the series Chico and the Man as "Tomas Garcia".

Orlando starred in the 1981 TV movie 300 Miles For Stephanie, playing a police officer who promises to walk over 300 miles to a sanctuary in order to obtain God's help to cure Stephanie, his gravely ill daughter. Others in the cast included Edward James Olmos, Pepe Serna and Julie Carmen.[ citation needed ]

In May 1981, Orlando appeared on Broadway in the title role of Barnum , replacing Jim Dale, who was on a three-week vacation.

During the 1984–85 season of the Cosby Show (its first season), Orlando played Tony Castillo, who runs a community center. He had a cameo appearance as himself in the 2002 film Waking Up In Reno , in which he sang a version of "Knock Three Times".[ citation needed ]

In 2003, Orlando had a recurring role in the children's animated series Oswald , in which he did the voice of "Sammy Starfish".

Orlando appeared in an episode of MADtv doing a sketch involving a court case, where the defense sings to persuade the jury about their side. He sang for the prosecution, thereby persuading the judge to give the defense jail for life. In another television program, Orlando was featured in "Larry the Cable Guy's Star Studded Christmas Extravaganza". [22] He appeared in That's My Boy as Steve Spirou, a Happy Madison production starring Adam Sandler in 2012.

Personal life

Orlando was introduced by Jerry Lee Lewis to his future wife, Elaine, who had previously dated Buddy Holly. Tony and Elaine married in 1965, and had one child, Jon; they divorced in 1984. Five years later, Orlando was engaged to Francine Amormino, whom he married in 1991. The couple remained married as of 2014; they have one child. [8] [23]

On February 27, 2013, his mother, Ruth Schroeder of Hollister, Missouri, died in Branson, Missouri [24] of a diabetic stroke. [25]

In 2002, he wrote a memoir, Halfway to Paradise. [26] Tony and Francine Orlando live in Branson, Missouri, with their daughter, Jenny Rose. Orlando's son Jon Orlando, from his first marriage, was a comedian from 1993 to 2002, and is currently[ when? ] the vice president of business development for MEDL Mobile in Fountain Valley, California. [26]

Orlando was interviewed on The 700 Club explaining that he was raised Catholic and was "brought up with the Lord as my Savior"; but after a self-destructive period following his professional success with Dawn, he became a born-again Christian in 1978. [27]

Discography

Albums

Solo singles

See also

Related Research Articles

Rosemary Clooney American singer and actress (1928–2002)

Rosemary Clooney was an American singer and actress. She came to prominence in the early 1950s with the song "Come On-a My House", which was followed by other pop numbers such as "Botch-a-Me", "Mambo Italiano", "Tenderly", "Half as Much", "Hey There", and "This Ole House". She also had success as a jazz vocalist. Clooney's career languished in the 1960s, partly due to problems related to depression and drug addiction, but revived in 1977, when her White Christmas co-star Bing Crosby asked her to appear with him at a show marking his 50th anniversary in show business. She continued recording until her death in 2002.

Branson, Missouri City in Missouri, United States

Branson is a city in Taney and Stone counties in the U.S. state of Missouri. Most of the city is in Taney County, with a small portion in the west extending into Stone County. Branson is in the Ozark Mountains. The community was named after Reuben Branson, postmaster and operator of a general store in the area in the 1880s. The population was 10,520 at the 2010 census.

Barry Manilow American musician (born 1943)

Barry Manilow is an American singer-songwriter, arranger, musician, producer and actor, with a career that has spanned more than 50 years. His hit recordings include "Could It Be Magic", "Mandy", "I Write the Songs", "Can't Smile Without You" and "Copacabana ".

Candida (song) 1970 single by Dawn

"Candida" was the first single released by the American pop music group Dawn, with vocals by Tony Orlando, in July 1970. The song, written by Irwin Levine and Toni Wine, was produced by Dave Appell and Hank Medress for Bell Records. Appell and Medress originally recorded another singer on the track, but decided that a different vocal approach would be preferable. Medress then approached Orlando to do the vocals. Orlando had been a professional singer in the early 1960s, but now worked as a music publishing manager for Columbia Records. Although initially worried about losing his job at Columbia, Orlando eventually agreed to lend his voice to the track.

Tony Orlando and Dawn American pop group

Tony Orlando and Dawn is an American pop music group that was popular in the 1970s. Their signature hits include "Candida", "Knock Three Times", "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree", "Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose", and "He Don't Love You ".

Mickey Gilley

Mickey Leroy Gilley is an American country music singer and songwriter. Although he started out singing straight-up country and western material in the 1970s, he moved towards a more pop-friendly sound in the 1980s, bringing him further success on not just the country charts, but the pop charts as well. Among his biggest hits are "Room Full of Roses," "Don't the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time," and the remake of the Soul hit "Stand by Me". Gilley has charted 42 singles in the top 40 on the US Country chart. He is a cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl McVoy, Jim Gilley, Sonny Gilley, and Jimmy Swaggart.

Don Kirshner American songwriter, publisher, music producer, and manager

Donald Clark Kirshner was an American music publisher, music consultant, rock music producer, talent manager, and songwriter. Dubbed "the Man with the Golden Ear" by Time magazine, He was best known for managing songwriting talent as well as successful pop groups, such as the Monkees, Kansas, and the Archies.

The Tokens American male doo-wop vocal group

The Tokens were an American male doo-wop-style vocal group and record production company group from Brooklyn, New York. They are known best for their chart-topping 1961 single, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".

Toni Wine is an American pop music songwriter, who wrote songs for such artists as The Mindbenders, Tony Orlando and Dawn ("Candida"), and Checkmates, Ltd. in the late 1960s and 1970s. Wine also sang the female vocals for the cartoon music group The Archies, most notably on their #1 hit song "Sugar, Sugar". She shared the lead vocals in the Archies' subsequent single, "Jingle Jangle" with Ron Dante using his falsetto voice. In addition, Wine was a backing vocalist on Gene Pitney's "It Hurts to Be in Love" and on Willie Nelson's "Always on My Mind."

Ron Dante is an American singer, songwriter, session vocalist, and record producer. Dante is best known as the real life lead singer of the fictional cartoon band The Archies; he was also the voice of The Cuff Links and co-produced Barry Manilow's first nine albums.

<i>Candida</i> (album) 1970 studio album by Dawn

Candida is a 1970 album by Dawn, a studio session group including Tony Orlando, Toni Wine, and Linda November. Orlando was singing under the group name "Dawn" in order to avoid problems with his contract with his other label, CBS. However, after the success of the album tracks "Candida" and "Knock Three Times", he invited two other singers to become the real-life "Dawn", and then "Tony Orlando and Dawn" could tour in support of the songs.

Jim Barber (ventriloquist)

Jim Barber is an American ventriloquist, comedian and singer who performs Internationally.

Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree 1973 song recorded by Tony Orlando and Dawn

"Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" is a song recorded by Tony Orlando and Dawn. It was written by Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown and produced by Hank Medress and Dave Appell, with Motown/Stax backing vocalist Telma Hopkins, Joyce Vincent Wilson and her sister Pamela Vincent on backing vocals. It was a worldwide hit for the group in 1973.

Lawrence "Larry" Russell Brown, known as L. Russell Brown, is an American lyricist and composer. He is most noted for his songs, co-written with Irwin Levine, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" and "Knock Three Times"—international hits for the 1970s pop music group Tony Orlando and Dawn. He also co-wrote "C'mon Marianne" for The Four Seasons, and The Partridge Family 1971 song, "I Woke Up In Love This Morning".

Johnny Carver is an American country music artist. Between 1968 and 1977, he charted 15 Top 40 hits on the Billboard country charts. His highest-charting single was a cover of Tony Orlando's "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree", a cover that reached No. 1 for him in 1974. He also had cover success with his version of the Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight." Carver lives today in rural Wilson County, Tennessee.

I Love How You Love Me

"I Love How You Love Me" is a song written by Barry Mann and Larry Kolber. It was a 1961 Top Five hit for the pop girl group The Paris Sisters, which inaugurated a string of elaborately produced classic hits by Phil Spector. Bobby Vinton had a Top Ten hit in 1968 with a cover version. The song has been recorded by many other artists over the years.

Norman Bergen is an American pianist, arranger, record producer, band leader, musical director, and vocalist.

Allan Schwartzberg is an American musician and record producer. He has been a member of the rock band Mountain, Peter Gabriel's first solo band, toured with Brecker Brothers' Dreams, B.J. Thomas, Linda Rondstadt, Stan Getz band, and the Pat Travers band. He has experienced success as a prolific session musician, through recordings made from the 1970s through today. He has also played on multi genre hits such as Gloria Gaynor "Never Can Say Goodbye", considered the first disco record, James Brown's "Funky President", Harry Chapin's "Cat's In The Cradle", Tony Orlando & Dawn's Tie A Yellow Ribbon, Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill", the Spinners' "Workin' My Way Back to You", the Star Wars theme, and Rod Stewart's Great American Songbook series including the hit "What A Wonderful World". He has played with musicians and singers including John Lennon, Diana Ross, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Frank Sinatra, Roxy Music, Rod Stewart, Robert Palmer, Grace Slick, Roberta Flack, Barry Manilow, Harry Chapin, Barbra Streisand, Deodato, Frankie Valli, Tony Orlando, and Roger Daltrey. He was also a frequent musician guest with Paul Shaffer's David Letterman Show band.

Tony Orlando and Dawn is a television variety show that aired from 1974–1976 on CBS. The show featured the American pop music group Tony Orlando and Dawn. The show was entitled The Tony Orlando and Dawn Rainbow Hour during the 1976–1977 television season.

References

  1. 1 2 3 "From chart-topping teen to music executive, Tony Orlando has done it all". reno.com.
  2. "Tony Orlando facts". www.encyclopedia.com.
  3. "Q&A: Tony Orlando talks the Beatles, Elvis, and Meghan Trainor". April 6, 2016. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  4. "The Dawning of a Legend: Tony Orlando puts 'blood, sweat and tears' into shows". Entertainer Magazine. January 31, 2017.
  5. https://parade.com/693827/nancyberk/music-legend-tony-orlandos-full-circle-moments-in-vegas/
  6. Ervolino, Bill (May 12, 2011). "Tony Orlando to perform in Morristown". northjersey.com. The Bergen Record. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
  7. "Reno.com". Reno.com.
  8. 1 2 3 Selvin, Joel (December 15, 1989). "Tony Orlando looking for respect". San Francisco Chronicle .
  9. Joel Whitburn (1992). Bubbling under the Hot 100 (1959-1985). Record Research, Inc. p. 138. ISBN   0-89820-082-2.
  10. "Record Details". 45cat. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
  11. Lewisohn, Mark (1996). The Complete Beatles Chronicle. Bounty Books. p. 98. ISBN   978-1-85152-975-9.
  12. "Knock 3 times if you want Tony Orlando". February 16, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  13. "Featherbed Featuring Barry Manilow - Could It Be Magic" . Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  14. Knopper, Steve. "Tony Orlando still hasn't needed that backup career option, despite his mother's advice" . Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  15. On the 3 October 1970 edition of "American Top 40", Casey Kasem claimed that the name of the lead singer on "Candida" was "Frankie Spanelli".
  16. Warner, Jay (1992). American singing groups: a history from 1940 to today . Billboard Books. ISBN   0-634-09978-7.
  17. https://wfgr.com/candida-by-dawn-classic-hit-or-miss/
  18. 1 2 "An Evening with Tony Orlando - March 24 - Seminole Casino Immokalee". Jay Goldberg Events & Entertainment. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  19. "Convention Notes: No love lost between Texans, Betty Ford", Dallas Morning News , August 19, 1976, p. 6A
  20. Roger, John (July 26, 1998). "For Tony Orlando, road to Branson has been a thrill". St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  21. Jones, Joy (November 30, 1999). "Orlando dawns a new era". Sun Herald .
  22. "Larry the Cable Guy's Star-Studded Christmas Extravaganza". tvguide.com. TV Guide Online. November 21, 2008. Retrieved January 10, 2009.
  23. Bossick, Karen (June 20, 1999). "Tony Orlando leads lineup of entertainers". Idaho Statesman .
  24. "Mother of Tony Orlando Dies" . Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  25. Miller, Dennis; Orlando, Tony (May 5, 2014). "The Dennis Miller Show" (Interview). Interviewed by Dennis Miller. Archived from the original on September 1, 2014.
  26. 1 2 Massey, Dawne (November 12, 2002). "Tony Orlando sets a course for "Paradise" with his memoir". St. Louis Post-Dispatch .
  27. Tony Orlando's Brush With Death, cbn.com; date of interview not stated; accessed June 23, 2014.
  28. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 410. ISBN   1-904994-10-5.
  29. "Tony Orlando".