A singer whose voice was a big part of a series of hit recordings in the late 1950s has died. The New York Times reports that Carlo Mastrangelo, an original member of Dion and the Belmonts, died Monday in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area.
Mastrangelo, 78, reportedly died of cancer.
His baritone voice was a distinctive element of Belmonts recordings including the group’s first hit, “I Wonder Why,” released in 1958. Other hits followed, including “No One Knows” and the group’s trademark song, “A Teenager in Love,” which became one of the most important recordings of the doo-wop era.
The group came together in a mostly Italian neighborhood in the Bronx, taking its name from Belmont Avenue and the Belmont neighborhood where Fred Milano, a Roosevelt High School classmate of Mastrangelo and another of the group’s original members, lived. The original lineup also included classmate Angelo D’Aleo, with Dion DiMucci, another youngster from the neighborhood, joining later. DiMucci would become the group’s lead singer and star.
For a period in the 1960s, Mastrangelo recorded as a solo act using the one-word name Carlo, but he was also a part of Dion and the Wanderers as the DiMucci-led group evolved later in the 1960s. Besides co-writing some of the group’s songs with DiMucci, Mastrangelo played drums and sang backup vocals.
Here’s the Belmonts’ “I Wonder Why,” which opens with Mastrangelo’s wordless vocal; in the album cover photo, Mastrangelo appears on the left …