The Best Of The Crests Featuring Johnny Mastro: 16 Fabulous Hits
Release date: September 11, 2020
All the Coed hits from The Crests.
Though there were other integrated ’50s vocal groups, The Crests demonstrated that musical and racial harmony went hand in hand. From the liner notes by Bill Dahl, “Several integrated 1950s vocal groups preceded them, notably The Meadowlarks and Dell-Vikings, but this young quartet from the lower East Side of Manhattan took the concept to the ultimate. Powerhouse lead singer John Mastrangelow (shortened to Mastro and then Maestro), born May 7, 1939 and of Italian-American ancestry, was joined by African American first tenor Talmadge “Tommy” Gough and bass singer J.T. Carter and second tenor Harold “Chico” Torres, who was of Puerto Rican descent. They found heavenly unity by crooning sweet doo-wop.”
The Crests were discovered singing in the subway, signed to Joyce Records and their debut single, “Sweetest One” charted nationally. At the time, they had another member in Patricia Vandross (Luther’s sister). Unfortunately, Joyce Records was short lived, but one of the writers for Joyce introduced the group to Coed where they became the first signing for the label. Patricia was also out post-Joyce as her mother didn’t want her out on the road.
It only took a couple of single releases to get to “16 Candles” the eternal classic doo-wop ballad. Starting out as the B-side to “Beside You,” when flipped it hit #2 on the pop charts and #4 on the R&B in early 1959. Johnny Maestro gives Alan Freed the credit for the single flip to “16 Candles” and Dick Clark featured it on American Bandstand, pushing it even further.
More hits followed, but none topped “16 Candles” and by the next year Coed decided that Johnny should be recorded as a solo artist. The Best Of The Crests Featuring Johnny Mastro: 16 Fabulous Hits was released to summarize the group’s tenure at Coed. Johnny Maestro continued on as a solo artist and eventually fronted The Brooklyn Bridge. He can be heard on their 1969 #3 hit, “Worst That Can Happen.”
16 Candles A Year Ago Six Nights A Week Angels Listened In Gee (But I’d Give The World) Step By Step I Thank The Moon Pretty Little Angel Journey Of Love Trouble In Paradise Earth Angel Flower Of Love Always You If My Heart Could Write A Letter Molly Mae Isn’t It Amazing