The Crests Biography
The Crests are one of the most prominent “doo-wop” vocal groups of the 1950s, founded in Manhattan, New York, in 1955. On Coed Records in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the group had multiple Top 40 songs. In February 1959, their most popular song, “16 Candles,” reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, selling more than one million copies and reaching gold disc status. “Step By Step,” “The Angels Listened In,” “Trouble In Paradise,” “Six Nights A Week,” and “A Year Ago Tonight” are among the group’s other hits.
Three African Americans, one Puerto Rican, and one Italian American made up the Crests. They were unusual for their time in that they were a fully integrated group, with two black males (J.T. Carter and Talmadge Gough), a black female (Patricia Van Dross, Luther Vandross‘ sister), a Puerto Rican (Harold Torres), and an Italian (John Mastrangelo, aka Johnny Maestro).
They began playing in their areas at local hospitals, charity events, dances, and other venues. In 1956, Maestro, who lived on Mulberry Street in the Italian district of the city, ran across the group while they were singing at the Henry Street Settlement House, a neighborhood gathering spot. Maestro, who had previously sung in other integrated vocal ensembles, was impressed by what he heard, and his strong voice and instinctual feel for R&B wowed the group, so they teamed up.
With the help of an old neighborhood singer known as Mr. Morrow and the cavernous expanses of the New York City subway system, they honed and polished their sound as The Crests. They were practicing their harmonies in a practically empty vehicle on the Lexington IRT line one night, when a woman passenger got off, walked over to them, and handed them a business card—it turned out she was the wife of Al Browne, a well-known arranger and producer. They called him the next day, set up an audition, and before they knew it, they were in the studio recording some of Maestro’s original tunes.
“Sweetest One” and “My Juanita” were released by Joyce Records, and “Sweetest One” reached #86 on the charts. They followed up with a third song, “No One to Love,” and a year of live performances.A chance encounter with legendary music producer George Paxton led to a partnership with Paxton’s new label, Coed Records (minus Patricia Van Dross, whose mother refused to let her go out on tour with the group).
“Pretty Little Angel,” their first Coed release, did well in the New York area at first, but faded fast. “Beside You,” their following single, was a ballad. Alan Freed, a well-known New York DJ, and TV producer Dick Clark received their copies and, supposedly, were unimpressed. They did, however, enjoy the record’s “B” side, “16 Candles.” It received a lot of exposure and charted on the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B charts in late 1958 and early 1959, respectively. It was a major smash, reaching #2 on the charts, and the trio was added to Freed’s Christmas rock-‘n’-roll extravaganza at the Brooklyn Fox theater, alongside Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper.
They also performed at the legendary Apollo Theater and on Clark’s radio version of his popular “American Bandstand” television show. They were so popular that they were on the road nonstop for about two years, from 1958 to 1960. They kept putting out successes (“The Angels Listened In,” “Step by Step,” “Trouble in Paradise”), and Coed Records made it clear that Maestro was ready to go solo. He did so in 1960, and during the next few years, the group went through multiple personnel changes (“I Remember” was the last song with all of the original members) and signed with a variety of labels, but they never replicated their prior success.
In 2000, the group was recognized into the United in Group Harmony Association (UGHA) Hall of Fame, among many other honors. The Crests were honored into the Hall of Fame of Vocal Groups in 2004. In 2008, The Crests received induction into the Doo Wop Hall of Fame. In 2015, they were honored with induction into the Doo Wop Music Hall of Fame as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
an American doo-wop group from the Bronx, New York City, United States. The band’s first record, “Kissin’ in the Driveway”, was written by lead singer J. T. Carter and produced by Johnny Maestro. It peaked at number 58 on Billboard’s Hot R&B Sides chart in early 1959. The follow-up, “Sweetest One”, written by Fred Parris and released on Coed Records, barely scraped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 98 in May 1959.
How Did The Crests Get Their Name?
The Crests were a 1950s doo-wop group from the Bronx, New York. The group was formed in 1955 by two teenage friends, Johnny Maestro and Herman Santiago. The name of the group came from the fact that all five members had large crests on their jackets.
Why Did The Crests Break Up?
The Crests broke up in 1963, just three years after they formed. The main reason for the break-up was creative differences between the band members. Lead singer Johnny Maestro wanted to pursue a more pop-oriented sound, while the rest of the band wanted to stick with doo-wop. The disagreement led to Maestro leaving the group, and the rest of the band soon followed suit.
Who Was The Lead Singer Of The Crests?
The lead singer of the Crests was Johnny Maestro.
What Genre Is The Five Crests?