Dion (& The Belmonts)
From the Bronx, Dion DiMucci was star material. At his first recording session his producer brought in a group of singers for backing vocals. Dion was not impressed. He'd heard better singers on street corners in the 'hood. So he hit the streets and organized the Belmonts (named after a street that intersected their neighborhood).
They were on the Winter Dance Party tour with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. Since they'd done OK but still hadn't had a major hit, they weren't offered the option of flying from Clear Water, Iowa, to the next show. Lucky. The plane crashed killing Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper.
In '60 Dion and the Belmonts parted company. Their biggest hit to that point was "A Teenager In Love" ("Why must I be a teenager in love") which had been a million seller. While the Belmonts continued in unspectacular fashion Dion was coming into his own. Two songs "The Wanderer" and "Runaround Sue" are Rock n' Roll gems. Ernie Maresca, who wrote several songs for Dion, co-wrote "Runaround Sue" about his current girlfriend who eventually married Dion. Funny how that worked.
Through the '60s Dion tried Blues and Folk before hitting with the ballad "Abraham, Martin and John."
Music critics often point out that Rock 'n' Roll was dead, or at the very least, in a coma during the early '60s. Guys named Bobby or Frankie ruled the charts and the world was simply waiting for the Beatles arrival. While the early '60s weren't kind to Rock 'n' Roll it wasn't as desolate as it's been portrayed. One reason was Dion. Starting as the frontman of the doo-wop group the Belmonts, Dion went solo and uncorked several Rock 'n' Roll classics like the love-burned "Runaround Sue" and the raucous "The Wanderer." "Greatest Hits" captures these moments but also contains numerous ballads. The "Runaround Sue" compilation shows Dion at his best. It too has "Runaround Sue" and "The Wanderer."
When the hits stopped Dion branched out to other musical styles usually handling them well.