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Dion Week 1: I Wonder Why - Dion and the Belmonts

Dion was one of the American artists whose career was all but wiped out due to the "British Invasion" of American popular music in the mid 1960's. But Dion had come through disasters before. In 1959 he turned down the offer of a place on the chartered plane to the next gig on the tour he was on with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Havens and the Big Bopper rather than stay on the tour bus, because he didn't consider it was right to pay $36 for the flight - the same as his parents' monthly rent on their Bronx apartment. The plane crashed killing all on board.

Ironically, in 1967 he was one of only two musicians featured on the cover of the Beatles' "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", apart from the Beatles themselves. The other was Bob Dylan.

In 1968, it was the single "Abraham, Martin and John" (see two posts ago) which restored his fortunes, reaching number 4 in the US charts. But back in 1959, he was the lead singer of Dion and the Belmonts, and their hit "I Wonder Why" was a new variation on the doo-wop sound that had been sweeping America. Instead of the backing singers just harmonising in alto, bass, tenor and soprano behind the lead, here they're making all kinds of rhythmic noises to contribute to the song, giving it an irresistible upbeat feeling that was contagious.

So we're having a Dion week (we haven't had one of these "featured" weeks for a while) but Dion's one of those artists you just keep coming back to. The cover of my "Dion's Greatest Hits" LP is so worn through that when you put the vinyl back it just falls out the other side. And, he's still going strong today, writing and recording new material and touring.

His amazing voice and delivery is as strong and resonant as ever as this wonderful live clip from a concert in 2004 shows:

I normally don't feature videos that have track versions that aren't available of vinyl, but there are exceptions, and these have special merit and are very occasional. There's usually one or two great ones per year such as Doctor Hook on May 31 2018 see

but this is my live video for 2020, guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart, with a 65 year Dion and vocal mates showing that class is class whatever age you are.

A whole week you exclaim. Well the way I see it, you can never have too much Dion.

For more Dion also see Uncle Stylus post Nov 23rd 2017:


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