It was 60 years ago today (October 16th, 1960) that Dion announced his split from the Belmonts. Dion, whose last name is DiMucci, had been a member of the Bronx, New York street gang the Fordham Baldies when he joined musical forces with Carlo Mastrangelo, Freddy Milano, and Angelo D'Aleo, who were part of a rival gang, the Imperial Hoods. The resulting group took their name from the Bronx's Belmont Avenue.
In 1958, the Belmonts' first Top 40 hit, “I Wonder Why,” came to define Italian-American doo wop, and the group went on to have seven more Top 40 hits with Dion, including the Top Tens “A Teenager In Love” and “Where Or When.” The group was fourth on the bill to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson during the ill-fated February 1959 Winter Dance Party tour, which took the lives of the '50s rock legends.
By August of 1960, Dion was making plans to forge ahead with a solo career, and went on to become the first rock n' roll artist to be signed to Columbia Records.