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NYC Music Trail: The Doo Wop Corner

by Jake Neher
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Doo Wop Corner
Jake Neher, WFUV.

Pop Icon Dion named group "The Belmonts" after street in Bronx.

Dion DiMucci recorded some of the most memorable songs of the pre-British Invasion era. Records like "A Teenager in Love" and "Runaround Sue" landed his brand of doo-wop and rock 'n' roll on the top-40 charts over a dozen times. But before his performances on American Bandstand, Dion performed at the corner of 187th and Belmont in the Bronx.

Now known as the "Doo Wop Corner," this is where he and his group "The Belmonts" polished early hits like "I Wonder Why" in front of friends and neighbors. Dion says he first knew they had something special when dozens of people would stop to hear them sing.

"It was hitting home to whoever was listening on the corner," Dion says. "You know, the girls who came over and were listening to us, and whoever decided to lean in from the streets. I could see the impact we were making. We were connecting."

After a Hall of Fame career, Dion now lives in Florida. But he still comes back to the Bronx often.

Joe Artuso runs a bakery just down the street from the Doo Wop Corner and was around when Dion was performing there. He says he's still a neighborhood treasure.

"He still lives this life 'til today," Artuso says. "Doing a lot of beautiful things, helping churches, alcoholics, and people that are on drugs. He does (Alcoholics Annonymous) meetings. He's a wonderful human being."

Along with his charity and community work, Dion is also still busy putting out records and performing around the country.

To listen to the full interview with Dion DiMucci, tune into Fordham Conversations tomorrow (Saturday, July 21st) at 7am. You can also find it online at http://wfuv.org/fordhamconversations beginning at that time.

Note: This is the fifth and final installment in WFUV's series on the New York City Music Trail. There are dozens of spots all over the five boroughs that embody the city's rich musical heritage. In 1992, the NYC Grammy Awards Host Committee and the city decided to map them. The NYC Music Trail includes legendary "sites of sound" like Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theater, Tin Pan Alley, CBGB, and Lincoln Center. But all this week, we're visiting some of the places on the trail that likely haven't crossed your radar yet.

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Gallery

Dion and the Belmonts on their 1960 album "Wish Upon a Star". Photo taken from Peter Zimmerman, flickr.
The Doo Wop Corner.
The Doo Wop Corner in front of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church.
The Doo Wop Corner in front of Mt. Carmel Church.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church.
One block north of the Doo Wop Corner, 188th Street is named in honor of Dion.
One block north of the Doo Wop Corner, 188th Street is named in honor of Dion.
Dion with WFUV's Dennis Elsas in 2006.

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