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Tony Orlando: 1944—: Singer

Teamed Up With Dawn

In 1970 Hank Medress, a former Token (of "Lion Sleeps Tonight" fame) turned producer and songwriter, and co-producer David Appel brought "Candida" to Orlando telling him it needed a better lead vocalist. The song was for a new Detroit-based group called Dawn, named after the daughter of Bell Records boss Wes Farrell and featuring female vocalists Thelma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent. He agreed to do it as a favor only if Medress agreed to keep Orlando's identity under wraps so his boss wouldn't know he was moonlighting for a rival company. Orlando cut the track without ever meeting Hopkins and Vincent, who had already recorded their parts in California.

"Candida" hit Billboard's number three spot by the end of the summer of 1970, and stunned Orlando who was sure it would disappear without a trace. In a 2002 Today Show interview with Matt Lauer he recalled, "I remember pulling off on the freeway and getting off the exit and listening to that record (on the radio), not being able to tell anybody because I was afraid to lose my job." Booking agents were offering Dawn gigs, but there would be no act until Orlando decided to give up his day job and step back into show business. He finally acknowledged that he was the voice of Dawn and left his job to join the group full time to record what became the rest of their debut album, Candida.

Medress and Orlando quickly collaborated on a follow-up, "Knock Three Times," a tale of two neighbors in adjoining apartments who communicate their love via a series of three knocks on the ceiling ("if you want me") and two on the pipe ("means you ain't gonna show"). The song hit number one in December of 1970 in both the United States and the United Kingdom. What followed were a couple of years of relatively minor hits, including "I Play and Sing," "Summer Sand," and "What are You Doing Sunday." The album that featured these songs topped the Billboard 200 at a disappointing number 178. It wasn't long, though, before the group struck gold again with a song based on a convict's release from prison.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Grace Napolitano: 1936—: Politician to Richard (Wayne) Peck (1934-) Biography - CareerTony Orlando: 1944—: Singer Biography - Had Short First Music Career, Teamed Up With Dawn, Released Megahit, Hit Low Point In Career