memories of the ’70s – Tony Orlando and Dawn

From a solo artist, to becoming a group act to starring in their own variety show, Tony Orlando and Dawn were an essential part of the sounds of the 1970s.

Orlando had made his name in the 1960s as a solo artist, but by the end of the decade, he was a demo singer, and falling far from the spotlight he used to command.

Approached by producers with the song, Candida, Orlando couldn’t record under his own name because of contractual obligations, so he recorded the song under the name “Dawn”, with four backup singers and studio musicians.

The song shot to the top of the Billboard charts, hitting number three in Fall 1970 after being released in July 1970. Orlando followed up Candida with the song Knock Three Times in November 1970, recorded with co-writer/singer Toni Wine.

The song hit number one in January 1971 on Billboard Hot 100, and Orlando asked Motown/Stax backup singers Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson to permanantly become Dawn.

The trio toured Europe and then went into the studio to record, with Wilson’s sister Pamela Vincent joining them on vocals. Now billed as Dawn featuring Tony Orlando, the group released their third single “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree” in 1973, garnering their third Billboard Hot 100 hit.

The group kept recording and garnering hits, adding disco-influences to their songs with tracks like Who’s in the Strawberry Patch with Sally and Steppin’ Out (Who’s Gonna Boogie Tonight”.

In 1974, the group was given its own variety show on CBS, filling the gap left by The Sonny and Cher Show when it ended. Like its predecessor, the show as a mix of comedy sketches, music and silly banter between the band mates.

In the next two years, the show furthered the band’s success and more hot singles were released including He Don’t Love You (Like I Do) and Cupid, gaining radio airplay and support on the adult contemporary charts. The show ended in 1976.

In 1977, the group split, after a six year run of hot singles, television performances and touring, having become a favourite of viewing and listening audiences.

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About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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