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Dion DiMucci

In the 1950s, Dion was known as one of a handful of innovators who defined rock & roll. His group DION & The Belmonts created some of the most vital and exciting doo wop music on the American scene, with hits such as “I Wonder Why,” “A Teenager In Love” and “Where or When.” DION & The Belmonts toured extensively, and Dion was a featured artist on the fateful Winter Dance Party (the 1959 tour that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper. Dion was, in fact, slated to fly on the plane that went down “the day the music died,” but fate intervened).

Dion ventured out as a solo artist in 1960, with a string of hits to include “Runaround Sue,” “Lovers Who Wander,” and “The Wanderer,” which became his signature song. During this period, he switched from the indie Laurie label to Columbia, where he was the first rocker signed. He continued his streak there with smashes such as “Ruby Baby,” “Donna the Prima Donna,” and “Drip Drop.”

In 1968 Dion shot to the top of the charts once again with “Abraham, Martin and John,” a song that was an anthem for that era. What followed in the ‘70s and ‘80s was a string of acclaimed LPs, many of which reflected his early interest in roots music. He turned increasingly to folk, blues, and gospel, again earning a reputation as an innovator. He also recorded a series of albums that affirmed his renewed faith in God. He was nominated for a GRAMMY in 1985 and won Contemporary Christian Music’s coveted Dove Award, with his album I Put Away My Idols.

In 1989, Lou Reed inducted Dion into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He entered just one year after The Beatles and Bob Dylan and at the same time as the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, and the Temptations. That same year Dion released Yo Frankie, an album which included appearances by Paul Simon, Lou Reed, Bryan Adams, and KD Lang. The single “The Night Stood Still,” recorded with Patty Smyth, was a hit video on the then still-new MTV.

Dion has shown no signs of slowing in the twenty-first century. His 2006 release, Bronx in Blue, earned him another GRAMMY nomination. In 2020, he released his album Blues with Friends, joined by Joe Bonamassa, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons and many other rock luminaries. The past few years have been some of his most prolific and creative with the release of Blues with Friends, Stomping Ground, and Girl Friends, which features collaborations with female artists.

The Wanderer, a musical based on Dion’s life, is expected to premier on Broadway this fall; while the documentary “King of the New York Streets” will also be released this year.

His voice is unmistakable. His music is original and entirely his own. His story is more relevant than ever.