Friday, May 4, 2012

Bloomfield's Five Playboys

Five Playboys image from White Doo-Wop Collector

Starting out in Bloomfield in the early fifties, Meraldo "Tony" Bertoni and Sam Juliano were sidewalk doo-woppers, singing with a group of local guys known as The Sonny Boys. They never really took off, with their highlight being a performance on the Sunday evening "Wilkens Amateur Hour," and drifted apart.

Tony and Sam had the harmony bug, though, and in 1956 they put together another group, The Five Playboys. The members were Tony (1st Tenor), Sam (Bass), Mickey Sands (Lead), Eddie Lucente (2nd Tenor) and Joe Fabry (Baritone).

Promoter and Fee Bee label owner Joe Averbach heard them, and lined up an audition in 1957. They sang "One Summer Night" (more on that later) for him, and were signed. He sent them to George Heid’s studio on the Club Floor of the Penn-Sheraton (now Omni William Penn) Hotel in June, where they recorded their first song, "Pages of My Scrapbook," with jazz man Hosea Taylor Sr. providing the alto.

The song was a hit in the region, and Averbach pressed a second run with a different B Side ("When We Were Young," which also sold well locally) and licensed it to national label Dot Records, an impress he had a working relationship with. The Playboys hit the area hops circuit and even got to perform at a Syria Mosque show.

The Five Playboys went to Chicago's Universal Studios in February of 1958 to cut their next record, "Time Will Allow," released by Mercury Records. It didn't move, and that would be the group's last slab with a national label.

But one of their songs did have a pretty good run. The story goes that Tony and Sam were driving around one day, and heard "One Summer Night" on the radio, their song from the original Fee Bee audition the year before. It was a huge hit for the Danleers in 1958, reaching #7 on the Billboard Hot Hundred list.

The Five Playboys claim, according to one source (Tony's son) that Joe Averbach sold their song without the group knowing. "One Summer Night" is credited to the Danleers manager Danny Webb on the record, not the group. No credit, no royalties, just nada. And yah, that's how the business ran back in those days. So instead of launching The Five Playboys, it launched Brooklyn's Danleers.

Later in 1958, Fee Bee Records issued "Angel Mine," with the Del Viking's Chuck Jackson signing the falsetto. In the summer of 1959, "Mr. Echo" was released on Averbach's Petite label. That was the last hurrah for The Five Playboys, who called it a career in 1960.

1957 - Pages Of My Scrapbook b/w Love Me Right (Fee Bee 213)
1957 - Pages Of My Scrapbook b/w When We Were Young (Fee Bee 213/Dot 15605)
1958 - Why Be A Fool  b/w Time Will Allow (Mercury 71269)
1958 - Angel Mine b/w She's My Baby (Fee Bee 232)
1959 - Mr. Echo b/w She's My Baby (Petites 504)
1959? - Never Let Her Go b/w Spring Is Here (Fee Bee - unreleased)

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