Top 40 Smash Taps: “Don’t Pity Me”

According to Dion DiMucci, his time fronting the Belmonts came about because he decided to take his fledgling career into his own hands. In 1957, the Bronx-born singer signed to the newly-formed Mohawk Records. Almost immediately, the label heads had him record lead vocals for a pre-existing backing tracking, resulting in his first single, “The Chosen Few,” credited to Dion and the Timberlanes. DiMucci claimed he never even met the other individuals who performed on the record. He also found them unbearably bland, which inspired him to do what presumably any kid from the Bronx would do. He went back to the old neighborhood and found three guys (namely, Angelo D’Aleo, Carlo Mastrangelo, and Fred Milano) who could back him up properly. Taking their name from a local street that they all lived either on or near, Dion and the Belmonts started cranking out singles, making it into the Billboard Top 40 with their second official release and first for Laurie Records, 1958’s “I Wonder Why.” They made a return visit to the Top 40 with their next single, “No One Knows.” That was followed by “Don’t Pity Me,” which peaked at #40. The group’s relatively quick success landed them on the “Winter Dance Party” tour with the likes of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper. When Holly chartered a plane to get the musicians from their gig in Clear Lake, Iowa to their next stop in Moorhead, Minnesota, DiMucci opted out because the $36 he’d need to chip in was too much for him. It became the most famous declined plane ticket in rock ‘n’ roll history when that plane went down, killing everyone aboard.

Dion and the Belmonts lasted until 1960, splitting up because of any number of fractures to the band’s unity, including money disputes, artistic differences, and probably some troubles caused by DiMucci’s significant drug issues. That same year, he spent time in the hospital going through a detox program for a heroin addiction. Once the band broke up, DiMucci embarked on a solo career using only his famous first name, although there were reunion releases with the Belmonts here and there. All told, Dion sang on twenty-one Top 40 hits, including one chart-topper, 1961’s “Runaround Sue.” He eventually became a born-again Christian, releasing a whole mess of contemporary Christian music. Naturally, he’s spent the past few years trying to get a jukebox musical based on his life and music up and running.

Previously…
“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.
“I’m in Love” by Evelyn King
“Buy Me a Rose” by Kenny Rogers
“Who’s Your Baby” by The Archies
“Me and Bobby McGee” by Jerry Lee Lewis
“Angel in Blue” by J. Geils Band
“Crazy Downtown” by Allan Sherman
“I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Rhythm of Love” by Yes
“Naturally Stoned” by the Avant-Garde
“Come See” by Major Lance
“Your Old Standby” by Mary Wells
“See the Lights” by Simple Minds
“Watch Out For Lucy” by Eric Clapton
“The Alvin Twist” by Alvin and the Chipmunks
“Love Me Tender” by Percy Sledge
“Jennifer Eccles” by the Hollies
“Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Olympics
“The Bounce” by the Olympics
“Your One and Only Love” by Jackie Wilson
“Tell Her She’s Lovely” by El Chicano
“The Last Time I Made Love” by Joyce Kennedy and Jeffrey Osborne
“Limbo Rock” by The Champs
“Crazy Eyes For You” by Bobby Hamilton
“Who Do You Think You’re Foolin'” by Donna Summer
“Violet Hill” and “Lost+” by Coldplay
“Freight Train” by the Chas. McDevitt Skiffle Group
“Sweet William” by Little Millie Small
“Live My Life” by Boy George
“Lessons Learned” by Tracy Lawrence
“So Close” by Diana Ross
“Six Feet Deep” by the Geto Boys
“You Thrill Me” by Exile
“What Now” by Gene Chandler
“Put It in a Magazine” by Sonny Charles
“Got a Love for You” by Jomanda
“Stone Cold” by Rainbow
“People in Love” by 10cc
“Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)” by the Four Tops
“Thinkin’ Problem” by David Ball
“You Got Yours and I’ll Get Mine” and “Trying to Make a Fool of Me” by the Delfonics
“The Riddle (You and I)” by Five for Fighting
“I Can’t Wait” by Sleepy Brown
“Nature Boy” by Bobby Darin
“Give It to Me Baby” and “Cold Blooded” by Rick James
“Who’s Sorry Now?” by Marie Osmond
“A Love So Fine” by the Chiffons
“Funky Y-2-C” by the Puppies
“Brand New Girlfriend” by Steve Holy
“I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” by Bonnie Pointer
“Mr. Loverman” by Shabba Ranks
“I’ve Never Found a Girl” by Eddie Floyd
“Plastic Man” and “Happy People” by the Temptations
“Okay” by Nivea
“Go On” by George Strait
“Back When My Hair Was Short” by Gunhill Road
“Birthday Party” by the Pixies Three
“Livin’ in the Life” by the Isley Brothers
“Kissing You” by Keith Washington
“The End of Our Road” by Marvin Gaye
“Ticks” and “Letter to Me” by Brad Paisley
“Nobody But You Babe” by Clarence Reid
“Like a Sunday in Salem” by Gene Cotton
“I’m Going to Let My Heart Do the Walking” by the Supremes
“Call Me Lightning” by the Who
“Ain’t It True” by Andy Williams
“Lazy Elsie Molly” and “Let’s Do the Freddie” by Chubby Checker
“Second Fiddle” by Kay Starr
“1999” by Prince
“I’ll Try Anything” by Dusty Springfield
“Oh Happy Day” by Glen Campbell
“I’d Love to Change the World” by Ten Years After
“Friends” and “Married Men” by Bette Midler
“Spice of Life” by the Manhattan Transfer
“You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd” by Roger Miller