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|Past members||J. T. Carter
Patricia Van Dross
The Crests were a New York R&B doo-wop group, formed by bass vocalist JT Carter in the mid 1950s. Their most popular song, "16 Candles," rose to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1959, selling over one million copies, earning a gold disc. The interracial group had three black members (one female), one Puerto Rican, and one Italian-American.
Founded by JT Carter, the group included Talmoudge Gough, Harold Torres, and Patricia Van Dross, (older sister of R&B great Luther Vandross). Carter selected vocalist Johnny Mastrangelo (shortened to Johnny Mastro and later to Johnny Maestro) as lead vocalist. Maestro's recorded vocal style became instantly recognizable, and a juke box favorite of national teen audiences. Maestro's quality vocals, great song selections, and recordings, with dance-easy beats, made for charted hits. The group had several Top 40 hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s on Coed Records, including "16 Candles," "Six Nights a Week," "The Angels Listened In," "A Year Ago Tonight," "Step By Step", and "Trouble in Paradise." They also charted with "Sweetest One" (Joyce label) in 1957. In the late 1950s, the Crests appeared and performed on several national teen dance television shows to include the Dick Clark show.
After recording two singles for Joyce Records, Van Dross left The Crests in 1958. Maestro left for a solo career in 1961. Maestro would briefly rejoin the band recording under the name Johnny Maestro & the Crests producing a single for Scepter Records, in 1965, and three singles, for the Parkway label, in 1966. He later joined The Del Satins, which would merge with The Rhythm Method to become Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge. In 1969, they had a Top 5 hit with "The Worst That Could Happen". New lead James Ancrum, took his place in The Crests. The group recorded a new single, "Little Miracles." It was the first single not to chart in the Top 100. They also recorded "Guilty" (Selma label). Gough quit the group after the single, and was replaced by Gary Lewis (not to be confused with Gary Lewis of Gary Lewis & the Playboys fame). Subsequently, the group failed to find success throughout the decade.
By the late 1960s, Torres was gone. The group continued until 1978 as a trio of Carter, Ancrum, and Lewis, when the group split. Carter went on to sing with Charlie Thomas's Drifters.
Carter reformed the group in 1980, auditioning over 200 singers, finally settling on: lead Bill Damon, Greg Sereck, Dennis Ray, and New York drummer Jon Ihle. The group continued well into the 1990s. Carter sold the trademarks to The Crests name to Tommy Mara in the late 1990s. Mara was Carter's lead vocalist at the time, and now continues the group without Carter.
Carter has had a new level of recognition in recent times. On November 12, 2013 Carter was recognized on the Pennsylvania State House Floor by Speaker of the House, The Honorable Sam Smith and PA State Representative Rosemary M. Brown for a lifetime in music and as, The 1st African American to form an interracial vocal group in The United States. In 2013 Carter also appeared on the 1st Annual Palisades Park Reunion concert with Cousin Brucie aka Bruce Morrow, broadcast live on SiriusXM satellite radio. Other performers included: Neil Sedaka, Lesley Gore, Bobby Lewis and Ronnie Spector. In January 2014, Carter interviewed with broadcasting legend Joe Franklin on the Bloomberg Radio network. Carter is still performing throughout the US and Canada, at age 73. Erik A. Kroll, is accredited with Carter's recent popularity and the music of The Crests. Press Articles:,,,
In 1987, for a concert in Peekskill, New York, Maestro, Carter, Torres, and Gough reunited as The Crests.
In 1993, Patricia Van Dross died of complications from diabetes. Hal Torres is deceased; Tommy Gough lives in Flint, Michigan.
In April 2010, the Los Angeles-based rights-management firm Beach Road Music, LLC, acquired the Coed Records catalog, subsequently re-releasing the Maestro song "The Great Physician" on the 2011 compilation album From The Vault: The Coed Records Lost Master Tapes, Volume 1. "The Great Physician" was originally released in 1960 as Coed 527, under the pseudonym "Johnny Masters."
Awards and recognition
On May 9, 2012, Johnny Maestro was honored by the House of Representatives of the United States of America. Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York, whose district includes the neighborhood where Maestro was born, and where he began his music career, introduced an Extension of Remarks in the House of Representatives. This posthumous honor is now a permanent part of the Congressional Record. The Extension of Remarks includes the members of The Crests.
On November 12, 2013, JT Carter was honored by the Pennsylvania State House, Speaker of the House Sam Smith, and PA State Representative Rosemary M Brown, for his lifetime in the music industry and for being the first African American to form an interracial vocal group in America. Carter was officially recognized on the state house floor.
|1959||"Six Nights a Week"||28||17|
|"Flower of Love"||79||—|
|"The Angels Listened In"||22||14|
|"A Year Ago Tonight"||42||—|
|1960||"Step By Step"||14||—|
|"Trouble In Paradise"||20||—|
|"Journey of Love"||81||—|
|"Isn't It Amazing?"||100||—|
|"I Remember (In the Still of the Night)"||102||—|
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 99. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- [dead link]
- Dennis Hevesi (March 26, 2010). "Johnny Maestro, Brooklyn Bridge Singer, Dies at 70". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-18.(login required)
- Baptista, Todd (March 2011). "Lost and Found,", Goldmine, Volume 37, Issue 797, Page 97.
- "Congressional Record – Extension of Remarks". Gpo.gov. May 9, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-18.