Gary: “I will be honest, this is a group I really do not remember. I do remember the songs. They took two songs from the late Thirties and made them hits in the early Sixties.
A Brooklyn street corner group formed in 1957, they originally called themselves the Capris until they found out that friends of theirs from Rockaway Beach in Long Island were already using that name. So Lenny Cocco and company renamed themselves The Chimes.
The original Brooklyn quintet’s lead singer Lenny Cocco (leader and originator of the group), was into standards at an early age since his father was a professional accordion player.
Lenny’s father, Leonard, thought Tommy Dorsey’s 1937 number one hit “Once In Awhile” would work well in a vocal quintet arrangement, so the group began practicing in a local pool hall that had a piano.
In 1960 the group went into the studio and recorded a demo of “Once In Awhile“, attracting the interest of the engineer. While The Chimes were in the studio the engineer called a friend at Tag Records and within an hour Andy Leonetti was there listening to the group’s first recording.
By the fall of 1960 “Once In Awhile“, was hitting the Billboards’ national charts. It finished one spot shy of the top 10, spent 18 weeks on the charts, and sold over one million copies.
Although they had a white doo-wop sound by today’s standards, in 1960 The Chimes were thought by many to be a black group. Their first major bookings were thus in black theatres such as the Howard in Washington, the Regal in Chicago, and the Apollo in New York.
Their second single was “I’m In The Mood For Love” another standard (Little Jack Little, 1935). Recorded in a similar style to “Once In Awhile“, it charted on March 27th and rose to number 38 nationally.
By spring, the group was on its third standard in three tries, the Eddy Duchin number one smash “Lets Fall In Love” , but apparently radio stations weren’t buying it (perhaps due to a deviation in vocal arrangement from the first two hits- “Lets Fall In Love” had the group up front singing the lead).
The group tried a Lenny Cocco original “Paradise” in 1962, and then moved over to Metro Records for one 1963 release, “Who’s Heart Are You Breaking Now“.
At this point, the group was now a quartet: bass singer Pat McGuire had died in a car accident. To this date in memory of Pat, Lenny has kept the group a quartet without another bass singer.
In November of that year, Laurie Records picked up the Metro recordings but released them with no success.
In 1964 The Chimes wound up on Vee-Jay Records but again with not much success as Vee-Jay was putting all their energy into releases by the Beatles and The Four Seasons.With that kind of competition, the Chimes release of “Two Times Two” was virtually ignored.
By 1965, the group had separated only to reunite for some rock and roll revival shows in the early 1970’s. In 1973, the group had split again, lacking any real recording opportunities.
In 1986 the group went contemporary with “New York City Lady”, on Freedom records (their own label). 2008, Lenny had joined voices again with the originals and close friends, Pat DePrisco (first tenor) and Richard Mercado (second tenor).
The three have never sounded more beautiful together! The harmony and synchronization has never parted after all the years gone by.
The Chimes are so honoured to welcome John D’Orta (baritone) as a member of the Chimes.
Lenny Cocco and The Original Chimes are still performing all over the country and Tri-State area with their current lineup: Lenny Cocco (originator and lead), Pat DePrisco (original 1st tenor), Richard Mercado (original 2nd tenor) and John D’Orta (baritone). With the group’s powerful vocals and dynamic band, Lenny Cocco and The Original Chimes are more exciting than ever!
In 2010 Lenny Cocco and the Chimes released a very special double CD entitled, “As Time Goes By“. It is a compilation of never released recordings and behind the scenes recordings of intimate moments with The Original Chimes.