Vito Picone, born and raised in South Beach, Staten Island spent four years at New Dorp H.S. Graduated from the Germain School of Photography in N.Y.C. He has owned Headline Talent Inc., a booking agency on Broadway in New York City for over 25 years. He has two sons and one daughter. He is still a resident of Staten Island currently residing in Prince’s Bay.
Vincent “Jimmy” Moschello was born in New Brighton, Staten Island, and has two brothers and a sister. Jimmy went to McKee H.S. and married his childhood sweetheart. While working for the N.Y. Transit Authority he raised five (count ’em) sons and lives in Eltingville, Staten Island.
Bruce “Sonny” Copp played guitar with his father’s band when he was just 13 years old. He grew up in the Berry Projects in Dongan Hills, Staten Island, and graduated from the first class at Monsignor Farrell High School. He now lives in King of Prussia, PA with his wife and two sons.
History (Original Group)
Vito Picone and original member Carman Romano met in the 1st grade at P.S. 39 in the South Beach Section of Staten Island NY. Both had a young widowed mother and just one sibling and lived two blocks away from each other, it was inevitable that the two would become friends immediately. As they entered the 4th grade, the N.Y.C. Board of Education started a music program and oddly enough Vito and Carman were chosen as two of the four trombone players. The other two were Vinny Licastri who became Vito’s best friend (who would later die of leukemia at age 16, the night The Elegants recorded “Little Star”) and Ronnie Jones.
Vito, Carman and Ronnie would form their first singing group in 1955 with Patricia Crocitto, daughter of the owner of a popular night club, “Crocitto’s.”
They fashioned their sound after the red hot vocal group “The Teenagers” because Patricia had the high Frankie Lymon sounding voice and Vito could emulate the bass vocals of Sherman Barnes. They called themselves “Pat Cordel and The Crescents”.
After winning a singing contest, where the 1st prize was a recording contract, they recorded two songs “My Tears” and “Darling Come Back” written by Vito.
One of the first white rock and roll artists to have a recording released, they toured with such acts as The Willows, The Fi-Tones, The Solitaires, etc. in predominantly “Black” venues.
After their manager/Record Label owner was tragically killed in Little Italy N.Y.C., they disbanded.
Pat became one of the June Taylor dancers (Jackie Gleason Show) and a professional Skydiving record holder. Ronnie became a commercial artist. Vito and Carman choose to continue singing.
So back to their old hangout, the F.D.R Boardwalk in South Beach, where at any given summer night you could find a hundred or so teenagers including Bobby Darin or Johnny Maestro who’s families had summer bungalows nearby.
They met Artie Venosa (co-wrote “Little Star” with Vito) who sang with various local groups and realized he was also interested in pursuing a singing career. He contacted Jimmy Moschello who enjoyed singing and introduced him to Vito and Carman.
The last piece of the puzzle was Frankie Tardogno who attended New Dorp High School with Vito. Their first rehearsal was magic, but now they needed a name. On his way to one of their rehearsal Vito passed a local tavern owned by the father of another close friend Ben Sarullo (future Head Coach at Monsignor Farrel High School for decades) In the window was a cardboard placard which read “Schenley, The Whiskey of Elegance”. He converted the word Elegance, suggested it to the other guys when he arrived, and the rest is history.
They knocked on the doors of their favorite record labels in Manhattan, giving live auditions, and were ecstatic when Hull records the home of their idols “The Heartbeats” gave them a record deal.
The group was sub-let to ABC-Paramount and their first record “Little Star” was released in the summer of 1958 on it’s subsidiary, A.P.T. records.
The song sold 80,000 copies in New York within the first week and became #1 almost immediately, not only in the U.S. but internationally as well.
The Elegants became only the second “white” vocal group to register a #1 record. (Preceded 6 months earlier by Danny and The Juniors “At The Hop”).
Receiving a Gold Record for selling over 1 million copies of “Little Star”.
Awards for best R&B and Pop song of the year for 1958.
School closing and police motorcycle escort in Hawaii for having the biggest selling record in the history of the islands.
The Brooklyn Fox Big Beat Concert #4 with Alan Freed.
Touring with then-soon-to-be legends Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, The Everly Brothers, Bobby Darin, The Platters, The
Drifters, The Coasters and just about every other artist of the era.
Songs arranged by Don Costa, Teacho Wiltshire
Million-Airs Award for 1 million radio air plays.
“Little Star” was installed in The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on opening day.
After recording over 30 songs with various labels the original group disbanded when Artie and Frankie were drafted into the U.S. Army, Jimmy got married, Carman tired of the lifestyle and Vito received a permanent eye injury from an accident. The Beatles of course didn’t help the situation.
History (Next Generation)
Nino Amato and Fred Redmond sang locally on Staten Island with a group called “The Majestics”. They were incorporated at various times to replace members of the original Elegants when someone took a hiatus.
In 1970 The Academy of Music in N.Y.C. was introducing a one night reunion of the Doo-Wop era.
The Elegants were among the line up and eventually Nino, Freddie along with Vito Picone who had been singing with his rock band “Beau Geste & The Legions” in the mid-sixties assembled with a local guitar player named Bruce (Sonny) Copp to become the next generation of The Elegants.
In 2006, the guys lost their best friend and bass singer Freddie to Emphysema.
Vito, who first met Freddie during their high school days at New Dorp High School on Staten Island, knew it was impossible to replace him.
The person that would not offend Freddie’s many fans and be accepted by people in the Doo-Wop community would be none other than the Elegants original bass singer Jimmy Moschello.
He had retired from his city job and had still been enjoying his love of singing with an acapella group. When approached by Vito to “come home” he was elated. Just like riding a bike, Jimmy never missed a step.
The Elegants once again continue to please audiences with their selection of tunes, their charisma and their sense of humor.
For over 62 years of unprecedented success, The Elegants have been known as one of the most entertaining acts of the Doo-Wop era. They accomplish this by simply having fun at what they love.
8 times at Radio City Music Hall, N.Y.C.
The Elegants Have Performed
8 times at Radio City Music Hall, N.Y.C.
The first Rock n’ Roll show in Carnegie Hall
The first Doo-Wop group in Lincoln Center
Every hotel in the Catskills
All Atlantic City & Connecticut casinos and also in Las Vegas
Major league baseball parks and football & hockey arenas
The most prestigious performing arts centers.
Top 500 corporate functions.
Thousands of night clubs/theaters and parks
Major cruise liners
Television and Film appearances and soundtracks