Dion and his music will always represent a special time and place a moment when a song could mean so much and a singer could sum up what it means to be young, in love and top of the world.
Yet Dion is more than a simply a cherished memory of an innocent time. A singer, songwriter and performer of extraordinary versatility, range and resonance. Dion is fashioning music as relevant and revealing today as in the heydays of the 50s when, along with a handful of other innovators, he defined rock n roll for a generation.
That mastery began at a very early age on the mean streets of the Bronx, New York. It was in the bars and on the street corners of his Bronx neighborhood that Dions musical skill and style really began. R & B, blues, doo-wop and rock n roll all influenced his approach to music, but it was countrys great singer songwriter Hank Williams who first sparked Dions singing ambitions. Whatever the reason, Williams hard driving lonesome sound attracted the city boy. By age twelve, Dion had collected a hundred of Hanks singles and could play by heart. It was his surprising feel for pure country that led to his first professional appearances on Paul Whitemans radio and television shows, singing Jambalaya.
Dions natural affinities and abilities were further honed on the stoops and on the street corners of Cartona Avenue, where he rounded up other local singers, inventing acapella licks. Then in 1957 he brought the best of the neighborhood rockers together, Freddy Milano, Angelo DAleo and Carlo Mastrangelo to form Dion & The Belmonts, named after Belmont Avenue, in the heart of the Bronx.
I Wonder Why" was Dions first hit with The Belmonts and over the next two years the group earned a reputation not only for tipping the charts but for creating some of the most vital and exciting doo-woo music on the American scene. With songs such as "A Teenager In Love" and Where Or When", Dion & The Belmonts earned their place in the history books, while the groups pioneering role on the development of rock n roll underscored their enduring accomplishments. A national sensation, they toured extensively and were featured artists on the star-crossed Winter Dance Party, the tour that took the lives of Buddy Holly and other musical greats. Dion was, in fact, scheduled to fly in the fateful plane that went down "the day the music died."
But the vitality of the music lived on when Dion, venturing out as a solo artist in 1960, racked up a string of # 1 hits that many still consider to be the best of that, or any other era. Over an incredible four year run Dion cut one quintessential rock classic after another, from the rollicking "Runaround Sue" to the diving "Lovers Who Wander" to the anthemic "The Wanderer" – it was unparalleled musical feat that elevated him to the top ranks of recording artists. As the first rock and roll artist ever signed to Columbia Records, continued his streak with such smashed as "Ruby Baby", "Donna The Prima Donna" and "Drip Drop." When not in the recording studio, he could be found frequenting Greenwich Village, New York, listing to roots music, the blues, folk stylings that were shortly to sweep the music scene.
In 1968, Dion had matured as an artist, a more contemplative songwriter and performer and also discovered some hard-won answers and in the process, found new reason for living and singing. That same year he shot to the top of the charts once again with "Abraham, Martin and John", a song that was as much an anthem for that era as his early hits had been in theirs. What followed was a string of acclaimed LPs including such moving and deeply personal offerings as "Sit Down Old Friend, Youre Not Alone" and "Sanctuary Suite For Late Summer. The titles told all: Dion had come of age.
During the following fifteen years, Dion devoted himself and his music to folk blues and Gospel, again earning a reputation as an innovator. He also recorded a series of albums that reflected as an innovator. He also recorded a series of albums that reflected an enduring faith in God, and was nominated for a Grammy in 1985.
Though his intent on always looking forward, it was the repeated requests of friends and fans that he agreed to do a concert of his HIT material at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in the summer of 1987. It was an historic music event, one that tied up the loose ends of a legacy and, in many ways, freed Dion to celebrate both his past and his future.
The Radio City Music shows were also the beginning of yet another career phase for Dion, leading to a series of special appearances, including a 1988 fund-raiser for homeless medical relief. There he shared the stage with such renowned Dion fans as Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Lou Reed, all of who cited the originator of the Bronx blues as one of their prime influences.
A subsequent autobiography titled "The Wanderer" published by William Morrow, and his recent induction into the Rock Roll Hall of Fame further highlighted Dions contribution to the state of the musical art, helping, at the same time, to set the stage for
Today Dions songs grow more important and valuable to his fans, himself and to a new generation of believers. His works being reissued on Sony, Warner Brothers, Rhino, Ace Records and Capitol.
His songs, his music are continually impacting people worldwide.