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Tony Orlando: 1944—: Singer

Released Megahit

"Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree" was released in February of 1973, and by April it had become a hit, selling more than six million copies worldwide. Though the lyrics were written about a convict returning home to White Oak, Georgia, hoping to see if his wife still loved him, the song quickly became associated with veterans returning from Vietnam after the war ended in 1974. Later it came to symbolize anyone returning home after a crisis, with yellow ribbons sprouting up on trees during wartime or when someone was missing or being held against their will. In fact, the song would climb the charts again in 1981 when 52 Iran hostages were released after 444 days of captivity. "I never ever set out to be a novelty act, a singer associated with ditties or bubble-gum tunes, yet … 'Yellow Ribbon' seemed like a novelty song to me," wrote Orlando in his autobiography, Halfway to Paradise. "Even though I knew it had hit potential it wasn't the kind of song I wanted to be defined by." Nevertheless, the song changed Orlando's life and became his signature theme song.

In 1974, after performing "Yellow Ribbon" at the 16th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS programming chief Fred Silverman offered the group their own variety show, Tony Orlando and Dawn, which became an instant hit. It featured some of Orlando's boyhood idols, including Jackie Gleason and Jerry Lewis. Orlando would forge a close friendship with Lewis and go on to guest and host his Labor Day Telethon for years to come.

With the success of their TV show, came a whirlwind of hit songs, including "Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose," "Who's in the Strawberry Patch With Sally," and "Steppin Out (Gonna Boogie Tonight)." The group moved over to Elektra Records with Bell promotion executive Steve Wax in 1975 and recorded a cover of Jerry Butler's 1960 Top Ten hit, "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)." It became the band's third number one single and selling more than a million copies.

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