Monday, March 29, 2010


John Mastrangelo (May 7, 1939–March 24, 2010) was Johnny Maestro, and he fronted both The Crests in the late 50's and Brooklyn Bridge in the late 60's. Which means you've heard him sing "16 Candles" and "The Worst That Could Happen." The Crests were just another 50's group and "16 Candles" just a pleasant hit tune, but the group will always have a place in rock history for being interracial (Luther Vandross's sister Patricia was a key member), something rare at the time. The Marcels were another example.

Maestro next joined the Del-Satins, who acquired members of the Rhythm Method and morphed into the Brooklyn Bridge. They had an immediate hit with Jimmy Webb's "The Worst That Could Happen," and were very hot circa 1968-1972, selling millions of albums as they navigated terrain somewhere between the Fifth Dimension and Blood Sweat & Tears.

Johnny Maestro was a regular on the oldies circuit, and though his back-up group was The Brooklyn Bridge, he'd always perform some of his early hits with The Crests. In fact the $25 "Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge Greatest Hits" collection he sold on his website had such vintage numbers as "16 Candles," "My Prayer," "Unchained Melody," as well as a "Medley of Del-Satins." This, in addition to the well-known Bridge classics such as "Blessed is the Rain," "Your Husband, My Wife" and "You'll Never Walk Alone."

Your download sample is a track not on the "Greatest Hits." It's on the first Bridge album: "Piece of My Heart." Yes, the one made famous by you-know-who. It's chosen because a little piece of every doo-wop fan's heart was broken on hearing the news about the Maestro.

Johnny, who finally succumbed to cancer at 70, couldn't land a Johnny Maestro or Brooklyn Bridge, so to find more information about him, or nab some obscure CD's (including Brooklyn Bridge Christmas albums) you'll have to go to the hybrid-name:
Music, Maestro: PIECE OF MY HEART


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Two corrections: Patricia Van Dross left The Crests before they recorded "16 Candles". Her mother didn't want the 15-year old traveling with the older guys.

The medley is actually three of Dion's solo songs. Johnny sang this medley because his backup singers were in The Del Satins, who sang backup for Dion on his solo hits.

Ill Folks said...

Thanks for the info, TopazAngel!