Mystic Memories



 

As fans of the Mystics know, the group began to take shape in 1956 and entered a talent contest at the Loew's Oriental Theatre in Brooklyn  in 1957. Back then, they were known as the Overons.  They officially became The Mystics when they signed with Laurie Records in 1958, where they sang backup on a lot of Laurie recordings.



The Mystics with Dick Clark
Bandstand Reunion 1982

Johnny T - 2nd from left
The Mystics at Blossoms
in Staten Island 1982

Nationwide success came when the group's recording of "Hushabye" was released in May 1959. Iin the fall of that same year, The Mystics found themselves without a lead singer when Phil Cracolici left the group. New lead singers came on board - Paul Simon, a/k/a Jerry Landis was a Mystic and sang the lead on "Let Me Steal Your Heart Away".  Jay Traynor took over the lead on the recordings of "White Cliffs Of Dover", "Blue Star" and "Over The Rainbow" at RCA Studios. Jay went on to form the original Jay & The Americans. In 1961, Eddie "Shots" Falcone sang lead on "Star Crossed Lovers" b/w "Goodbye Mister Blues". The Mystics' next lead singer was Ralph Lizano, who approached the group with "Darling I Know Now", which he wrote and wanted them to sing. The Mystics liked it, and asked Ralph to sing lead. The group went into the studio and cut "Sunday Kind Of Love", "Darling I Know Now" and "Again," all featuirng Ralph Lizano on lead. Laurie released "Sunday Kind Of Love" b/w "Darling I Know Now", but this disc received absolutely no airplay. By mid-1961, Bob Ferrante and Albie Cracolici decided to call it quits and The Mystics stopped recording and performing.

Johnny T on bottom right
Group Photo 1980

The Mystics were inactive from the mid-60s until the rock and roll revival hit in 1969-70. For a while, the original five members did the revival circuit. But when George Galfo and Bob Ferrante moved to Florida and Arizona respectively, the group needed new members.

For a while, the replacements were Joe Esposito, Bruce Sudano and Eddie Hockinson. They sang and played musical instruments, but left in the early 70s for California, where they became known as "Brooklyn Dreams" and wound up being Donna Summers' back-up group. Bruce Sudano eventually married Donna Summers. Kenny Vance used Brooklyn Dreams as The Planetones in the movie American Hot Wax.  They still perform as Kenny Vance and the Planetones.

Johnny T bottom row center
Photo from Ambient Album 1983

And this is where I came in. From the mid-1970s to 1990, I was a member of The Mystics along with Joey Napoli and Emil Stucchio. (Emil is the original lead singer of The Classics and he is now back with that group).  I learned a lot in those early years performing with the Mystics. These are great memories for me - performing at Radio City Music Hall in the Royal New York Doo Wop Shows. I shared the stage with many doo wop legends such as The Spaniels, The Tymes, The Silhouettes and my Bronx buddy, Larry Chance and the Earls.

Johnny T 2nd from left
Mystics at the  Bottom Line 1985

Madison Square Garden and Westbury Music Fair were other great venues where I had the opportunity to perform with such notables as The Penguins, The Skyliners, The Harptones, Little Anthony and Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge.

In 1982, The Mystics cut an album called "Crazy For You" for the Ambient Sound label. For these recordings, the group consisted of original members Phil Cracolici, Albie Cracolici, and Bob Ferrante (who happened to be in town when the album was cut), original bass, Al Contrera, and myself. On this album The Mystics recut three Overons original tunes: "Prayer To An Angel", "Why Do You Pretend" and "The Bells Are Ringing". In 1989 an album that Bob Ferrante and Ed Engel produced entitled "They Sang In Brooklyn" was released.

Today, I incorporate a lot of of those great sounds in my present day act. I have had the good fortune to open for artists like Paul Anka, Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydell. I now perform in many theaters across the nation, as well as working at all the major Italian Feasts throughout the country which are sponsored by the Sorrento Cheese Company, the nation's leading sponsor of Italian street festivals.

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