One of the inductees into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2023 is Tony Orlando, the entertainer who is most famously known for his group Tony Orlando and Dawn.

Tony spent his teenage years in Union City, New Jersey, and then later in Hasbrouck Heights.

Tony Orlando, Tony Orlando Cassavitis

Tony’s career has spanned over 60 years, he started his own Doo-wop group at the age of 15 called the Five Cents and would send out demo tapes to all the east coast music producers.

He got the attention of music producer, talent manager, publisher, and songwriter Don Kirshner, who Time magazine labeled, “The Man with the Golden Ear” and the creator and host of the syndicated rock concert program Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert, which aired on ABC from 1972 to 1981. Kirschner had Tony Orlando sing on demos and released two singles with Tony at the age of 16 that charted on the top 100 songs.

Tony would also get into the music publishing side of the business and worked his way up to VP of music publishing for CBS's records division, Columbia Records. Tony signed artists and worked with major acts including Barry Manilow, James Taylor, and Blood, Sweat and Tears to name a few.

Tony Orlando
Jeff Daly/Invision/AP

In 1970, Tony set aside his executive position and recorded the hit song Candida with Toni White, who wrote the song and backup singer Linda November. Candida was a big hit, but it was recorded under the group name Dawn because Tony did not want to rock the boat with the publishing contract he had. They chose the name Dawn, which was the middle name of the daughter of Bell Records executive Steve Wax. Candida became a worldwide hit, reaching number one in five countries and number three here in the US.

After a change of heart, Tony’s name was added as the lead singer. They had a massive hit with the number one, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree and Knock Three Times." Tony Orlando wanted to expand into television and had the successful, "Tony Orlando and Dawn Show" on CBS from 1974 to 1976. Tony and Dawn split in 1977 and Tony got back in the music business and performed as a solo act for years.

Tony Orlando’s commitment to charity and community is stellar. He was a mainstay on Jerry Lewis’s MDA Telethon hosting the New York City segment for over 30 years. I met Tony as he helped us in a fight against ALS here in New Jersey. Tony graciously donated his time on several occasions, and I had the chance of sitting down with him and I found him to have a great demeanor. He was kind, and interested in the cause and the people who were afflicted with ALS and those working hard to eradicate the terrible disease. We talked about music, and I was pleasantly surprised by his truthfulness about where music has gone and where it is going.

Tony Orlando, Tony Orlando Cassavitis

I am glad to see Tony get inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, he is deserving of the honor.

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The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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