Once again, Dion was a bit before my time, so there are no real anecdotes to share. He was a doo-wop singer from the Bronx who achieved stardom in the late 1950s and early 1960s. After suffering a difficult period of drug addiction in the mid-1960s, he returned to the charts with “Abraham, Martin and John” right after the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in 1968.
This is probably lip-synced, but very cute nonetheless:
After becoming familiar with his big hits like “Runaraound Sue”, “The Wanderer” and “Donna The Prima Donna”, I then discovered Dion’s version of The Drifters’ hit “Ruby Baby”. I have the 45 RPM record from my collecting days in the 1980s to prove it. Here’s Dion is mid-life, performing on the Late Late Show:
Dion’s last top 40 hit was “Abraham, Martin and John”, released shortly after Bobby Kennedy’s assassination in 1968. The released recording is sweet, but a bit overproduced. I remembered seeing him perform the song on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour as a child, and luckily, this superior performance is available on YouTube. I greatly admire his ability to play in the finger style, while singing soulfully. The man has a beautiful voice.
In between his doo-wop days and the folk song “Abraham, Martin and John”, Dion produced a lesser known body of blues-influenced work which stands up nicely to the test of time. I have tried to include a few songs from that period. Dion was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1989.
Ruby Baby, Dion ✭✭✭✭
Runaround Sue, Dion ✭✭✭✭
The Wanderer, Dion ✭✭✭✭
Baby, I’m In The Mood For You, Dion ✭✭✭
Work Song, Dion ✭✭✭
You Better Watch Yourself, Dion ✭✭✭
The Road I’m On (Gloria), Dion ✭✭✭
Two Ton Feather, Dion ✭✭
Lonely Teenager, Dion ✭✭
Lovers Who Wander, Dion ✭✭
Abraham, Martin And John, Dion ✭✭
Donna The Prima Donna, Dion ✭✭
I Wonder Why, Dion ✭✭
Ruby Baby (Alt), Dion ✭✭