Doo Wop Classics
The story of The Capris has its twists and turns, but then the music business of the doo wop era had its twists and turns, too. The group formed in Ozone Park, Queens, in 1957. They were all around 15 years of age at the time and still in high school. They named themselves after the 1957 Lincoln Capri. By 1958 the group had started gaining experience and popularity by performing at local venues, school dances and churches. They attracted the attention of independent record producers. Soon they recorded their first single. Group members were Nick Santamaria, Mike Mincelli, Vinnie Narcardo, Frank Reina, and John Cassese. Their break came when they responded to an ad placed in a local paper by two wanna-be producers. At the audition, they sang a ballad, “There’s A Moon Out Tonight,” and soon found themselves at Bell Sound Studios, New York, cutting the song. The song has a nice ending where they chime down from falsetto to bass instead of the other way around. Each Capri sings the tune’s title in turn, but slightly lower (and slower) than the preceding member. After that release, the group disbanded. They got regular day jobs. Mike Mincelli got married, and Nick Santamaria enlisted in the army.
According to doo wop aficionado Bob Hyde at EMI, the story goes something like this. The record was discovered by a collector, Jerry Greene, who took it to DJ Alan Fredericks to play on his show “Night Train.” It got good response. Greene and friends were able to buy the master and lease it to Hy Weiss at Old Town Records. DJ Murray “the K” Kaufman started playing the record on his show. In July 1960 (almost two years after recording “There’s a Moon Out Tonight”), Nick returned from the army. He received a call from an old friend, who told him that the song had been playing all over the radio. He and the other group members got wind of their new release. Mike, now driving a bus, came home just in time to get a call from Nick exclaiming that the record was on a New York radio station. The group reunited, and in 1961, the song was at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #11 on the R&B Chart. The song has remained a doo wop and golden oldies favorite since then.