- Born Joseph DiNicola in Passaic, New Jersey on
June 11, 1940.
- Joey attended Paterson State College (now
William Paterson University) with the hopes of becoming a high school
History and English teacher.
However, while attending college, he decided to take a break and
give his musical career one more try and if that did not pan out
successfully, he would return to Teacher’s College at Paterson State
College to obtain his teaching degree.
- Joey Dee formed his first group, The Thunder
Trio, while still in high school.While the line-up would change and
grow, the core remained Joey Dee, Tony Sciuto on drums, and John Yanick
- In 1954, the group placed second on Ted Macks'
famed Amateur Hour, augmented by Tony Seragusa's upright bass.
- Guitarist Vinnie Corrao, accordionist Ralph Fazio,
Ernie Cassini on trumpet, Dave McLean on guitar, and piano player
Oresti Intorella would spend time in the group at various times.
- A new lead singer, Rogers Freeman, joined the
group in 1958 and they set out for their first recording session.
- Their first single on the obscure Little label
was a ballad, "Lorraine", and an uptempo doo wop
song, "The Girl I Walk To School". This early single
was later bootlegged on the Bonus label, complete with a picture sleeve,
when the group was first topping the record charts three years later!
- Joey met and recruited David Brigati, lead
singer of The Hi-Fives, during a gig at Garfield High School, Garfield,
- Their first musical collaboration had come
with The Hi-Fives, for whom Dee sang background on a few cuts, and who
David had recorded with for Decca Records.
- At the suggestion of high school friends, The
Shirelles, Joey contacted Florence Greenberg of Scepter Records and
began working on some new material with staff writer, Luther Dixon.
- The first single release was a ballad sung by
David Brigati, "Face of an Angel". The B-side was the
group-led "Shimmy Baby", which led them to work out
the "1-2-3 kick, 1-2-3 jump!" routine that would later evolve
into the "Peppermint Twist".
- In 1959, Joey Dee recognized the potential of
the newest fad, a new dance called "The Twist".
- The Starliters, now composed of Dee, drummer
Don Martin, Willie Davis, organist Carlton Lattimore, and Larry
Vernieri, Joey worked out a stage act with some unbeatable dance
- They were all multi-talented in their own
- Joey Dee and the Starliters were discovered
while working at a nightclub called Oliveri's in Lodi, New Jersey, by a
New York City agent named Don Davis. They were booked for a weekend at an
obscure New York City night club called the Peppermint Lounge which was
located on West 45th Street. What was to be a weekend stand escalated
into a 13-month run!
- Their initial appearance at the club found
actress Merle Oberon and Prince Serge Oblinski dancing the night away at
the Peppermint Lounge. This being in print the next morning by
columnists Earl Wilson and Cholly Knickerbocker, it took barricades and
mounted police to keep the crowds in line, which had backed up to
Broadway, the next night!
- For several months, the craze would continue
at the Lounge. Celebrity visitors continued to pour in and included Judy
Garland, John Wayne, Jackie "Ted Kennedy, Nat "King"
Cole, Shirley MacLaine, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and Liberace,
to name only a few!
- Less than one year later, a trio of pretty
young singers called The Ronettes came and danced with the Starliters
- During their first visit to New York three
years later, The Beatles even checked out the Lounge!!
- Capitol Records and Atlantic Records
approached the group for a contract, but Joey opted to go with Roulette
Records which promised to record them "live" at the Peppermint
Lounge and to market a record immediately, as well as to sort out all
the other conflicting contracts signed by the group.
- Dee, Brigati and the group began working with
Roulette producer Henry Glover on new compositions. The first collaboration
was "Peppermint Twist", which was released by
Roulette in November, 1961, and it took off immediately for the top of
- A few weeks later, the group was recorded
"live" at the Peppermint Lounge and Roulette rushed-released
an LP from the recordings entitled "Doin' The Twist At The
- Roulette continued to flood the market with
Joey Dee product.
- The group's first full studio album, "All
The World's Twistin' With Joey Dee & The Starliters", was
- "Everytime (I Think About You)", a single in two parts, not included on
either LP, was also released.
- Joey Dee's first movie was for Paramount
Pictures, entitled "Hey Let's Twist". The movie featured Teddy
Randazzo and Joanne Campbell. Joe Pesci made his film debut in this
film, playing a dancer!
- Joey Dee performed in a second motion picture,
this time for Columbia Pictures, "Two Tickets to Paris". The
picture was filmed in New York and featured Charles Nelson Reilly.
- The first song released from the film was "Everytime"
- The soundtrack also featured more new
- A very special song, "What Kind Of
Love Is This", written by Johnny Nash, put Joey Dee back in
the Top 20. The song showcased a completely different, ballad sound.
Original Starliter Rogers Freeman replaced Larry Vernieri while David
Brigati's younger brother, Eddie, added background vocals.
- The song, issued as a single, reached the #1
position in many parts of the country. It was this new sound for Joey
Dee that pointed his career in a new direction -- a direction without
- Joey Dee and The Starliters set out on their
second European tour in November 1963. Their opening act in Europe: The
- During that same month, another song written
by Johnny Nash, "I Lost My Baby", was released with
billing going to Joey Dee alone.
- An album released in December made it
official. The solo album, "Joey Dee", included "I
Lost My Baby", "Keep Your Mind On What You're
Doing" as well as two other Nash originals.
Two songs were
recorded in December 1962 before the album's release at one last Starliters
session: "Baby You're Driving Me Crazy", a new Dee-Glover
original with a rinky-dink rhythm, and another Johnny Nash tune, as good as
its predecessors: "Help Me Pick Up The Pieces".
These formed the
last "new" Joey Dee & The Starliters singles for Roulette.
Unfortunately, airplay was split between the sides and, as a result, neither
really broke through.
- Roulette seemed unsure of the future of Dee
and The Starliters as they went into 1963. In yet another marketing
coup, the label pulled "Hot Pastrami With Mashed Potatoes"
from the successful "Doin' The Twist..." album and
released it as a two-part single which made the Top 40.
- Something new was needed. That turned out to
be the three girls who danced with Joey at the Peppermint Lounge:
Veronica and Estelle Bennett, and Nedra Talley, also known as The
- Dee recruited The Ronettes for his next
sessions in May and June of 1963.
- Joey recorded eight songs with The Ronettes as
well as four instrumentals with a new band. "Dance, Dance,
Dance" a single and an LP, were released in July 1963.
- Roulette next released "Ya Ya"
and "Fanny Mae" from the "Doin' The
Twist..." LP. In Europe, the single would garner the group the
coveted Luxembourg Award.
- "Getting Nearer" and "Down By The Riverside",
two new recordings with The Ronettes, were used for another single
- While Joey Dee did not record in 1964, he
toured often with various "Starliters" including Felix
Cavaliere, Gene Cornish and Dave Brigati's brother, Eddie, three-fourths
of the original Young Rascals.
- Other line-ups included drummer, Jimmy Mayes,
singer Tommy Davis, guitarist Jimmy James (also known as Maurice James
and eventually as Jimi Hendrix), and Charles Neville (The Neville
- In 1965, two recording sessions produced the "Cry
A Little Sometime" single.
- Dee was finished with Roulette by 1966 and
signed with Jubilee Records.
- Joey Dee's debut release on Jubilee Records in
May 1966 was "Feel Good About It".
- An album released at the end of the 1966, "Hitsville",
featured cover versions of then-recent hits, as well as his own current
single release, "It's Got You".
- A few years later after a reunion with the original
Starliters, Joey wrote a song with Dave Brigati and Larry Vernieri
entitled "How Can I Forget", which was issued on his
own Caneil Records label as by Joey Dee and The New Starliters.
- In 1970, Joey tried again with "Roses
And Candy Kisses" on the Tonsil label.
- In 1972, Joey formed the group Hawk and, on
the Sunburst label, released "Wasn't It A Heavy Summer".
- In the mid-1970's, an album entitled "Joey
Dee, Volume 1" was released on Mohawk.
- Joey continues to tour regularly around the
U.S. and Canada.
- Joey Dee is also one of the lead singers of DREAM TEAM OF ROCK AND ROLL!
The Starliters with one of their original
Bill Callanan (far right)
(Some information compiled from the "Hey, Let's
Twist" Rhino Records CD booklet.)