Pop singer Dion DiMucci, known simply as Dion, came up as a teen idol with a string of pop hits in the late 1950s and early ’60s before reinventing himself in the late ’60s.
• Dion got his start in 1957 with a handful of singles for Mohawk Records that made little impression. After recruiting Carlo Mastrangelo, Fred Milano, and Angelo D'Aleo—three friends from his neighborhood in the Bronx—and dubbing them The Belmonts, the quartet began recording for Laurie Records.
• Their first single, 1958’s “I Wonder Why,” reached No. 22 on the Billboard pop chart. Dion would ultimately notch 19 Top 40 singles between 1958 and 1964.
• Dion & The Belmonts reached the Top 5 in 1959 with “A Teenager in Love,” which has been covered by a range of performers including Simon & Garfunkel, 10cc, Less Than Jake, and The Muppets.
• After the No. 3 hit “Where or When” in 1960, Dion split from The Belmonts. Following a solo album, Dion Alone, he teamed with Manhattan doo-wop group the Del-Satins on the 1961 single “Runaround Sue”—Dion’s only No. 1 hit.
• Dion’s follow-up single, “The Wanderer,” climbed to No. 2 in 1962. It was one of four Top 10 hits he had that year.
• He landed two more Top 10 songs in 1963: “Donna the Prima Donna” and “Drip Drop.” They were his last hits for five years, until he returned to the Top 10 in 1968 with “Abraham, Martin, and John,” a tribute to four American leaders who were assassinated: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and John F. and Robert Kennedy. The song peaked at No. 4.
• Dion’s commercial fortunes largely faded in the 1970s, when he began releasing albums in a singer-songwriter vein. Phil Spector produced most of one of them, 1975’s Born to Be with You, which didn’t chart.
• In 1979, Dion became a born-again Christian and began releasing contemporary Christian albums. One of them, 1983’s I Put Away My Idols, won a Dove Award from the Gospel Music Association and was nominated for a Grammy.
• He returned to secular music with Yo Frankie in 1989, which featured contributions from Paul Simon, Lou Reed, Patty Smyth, Bryan Adams, and Dave Edmunds, who produced it. The album followed Dion’s 1989 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
• Later in his career, he returned to Catholicism and recorded several albums exploring his blues influences, including the Grammy-nominated Bronx in Blue in 2006 and Son of Skip James in 2007.
• Dion’s 2020 album Blues with Friends includes contributions from Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Sonny Landreth, Joe Bonamossa, and Joe Louis Walker.
HOMETOWNNew York, NY [The Bronx]
BORNJuly 18, 1939