Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ORLANDO, Tony (& Dawn)

(b Michael Cassevitis, 3 April '44, NYC) R&B/pop singer. Born of Greek/Spanish parents; began in doo-wop with Four Gents and the Milos before being hired by Don Kirshner and Al Nevins as demo singer for Brill Building songwriting teams: he was the first to sing 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow', 'Take Good Care Of My Baby', etc. His demo of Gerry Goffin and Carole King's 'Halfway To Paradise' was a top 40 hit '61 on Epic; Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's 'Bless You' was no. 15 same year. When Kirshner sold Aldon Music to Screen Gems Orlando departed to record with sporadic success through '60s with no further hits except top 30 'Make Believe' '69 with session group Wind. He gave black vocal treatment to white pop (voice similar to Ben E. King) but seldom got credit, eventually becoming a music publishing executive. Approached by ex-Token Hank Medress with song 'Candida' he recut the vocal as a favour, specifying anonymous release, choosing name Dawn from a daughter of a Bell Records promo man; a smash no. 3 USA/9 UK resulted. Telma Hopkins (b '48, Louisville KY) and Joyce Vincent (b '46, Detroit), both ex-Stax/Motown session vocalists, were recruited as Orlando was tempted out from behind his desk; follow-up 'Knock Three Times' was no. 1 USA/UK. Twelve USA top 40 hits followed, often soul covers (Sam Cooke's 'Cupid', etc), also appalling schmaltz ('Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree', US/UK no. 1 '73. From late '73 label credit was Tony Orlando and Dawn; another US no. 1 was revival of Jerry Butler '60 hit 'He Will Break Your Heart', retitled 'He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)' '75. His career with Dawn had little street credibility; it is his tragedy that he is remembered for the schmaltz, while the Brill Building demos were first-rate as pop went in that era. He was one of the better white soul vocalists; CD compilation The Casablanca Years compiles the rubbish.