On May 15, 2016, the Goodfellas Doo Wop Club honored legendary songwriter, producer, singer and label owner, Billy Dawn Smith for his outstanding contributions to our music. The celebration was held at the Woodhaven Manor in Woodside, Queens, NY..
It’s hard to imagine what our music would be without Billy Dawn Smith. Billy began his career singing with the Billy Dawn Quartet. The same group recorded under the name the 4 Dukes and Heralds. Billy became the A&R person as well as an arranger and songwriter at Herald Records. After leaving Herald, Billy co-founded Hull Records and the label scored big with the Heartbeats’ “A Thousand Miles Away”. At Hull, Billy honed his songwriting skills, writing or co-writing songs for the Heartbeats (“People Are Talking,” “Oh Baby Don’t”), the Avons (“I’m Sending An S.O.S,” “Gonna Catch You Nappin’,” “Oue Love Will Never End”), Miller Sisters, and many more. A song written for Perry Como, “Just Born (To Be Your Baby),” reached #12 on the charts. Leaving Hull Records, Billy Dawn Smith hung out with his friend Al Browne, who was recording the first records by Johnny Maestro & the Crests on his Joyce label. Joyce Records didn’t last very long (a total of five releases) before closing down. At the time Billy was writing songs with George Paxton’s publishing companies, Winneton Music and George Paxton Music. Billy Dawn Smith was aware of the Crests from the beginning. “I was there at the recording session when they did ‘Sweetest One’ and ‘My Juanita,” Billy once told Charlie Horner. “There was no more Joyce Records and I wasn’t going to let Johnny and the group be out there in the middle of the street.”
Billy Dawn Smith suggested to George Paxton that they start their own record label to record the Crests. The owners of the new label, named “Coed” by George Paxton, were Smith, fellow songwriter Bert Keyes, Marvin Cane and George Paxton. “I just wanted to record the Crests,” said Billy. “We weren’t thinking about forming our own record label because we were doing alright in the publishing business. We were friends with Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé and Perry Como. We already had artists. We had the Ames Brothers. I was in with all the groups anyway. I’d already had Hull Records. I said, ‘Let’s start a record label. I’ve already got this group the Crests and they’re not doing anything. Let’s start off with the Crests.’ George said it was a good idea.” [See our article, “The Johnny Maestro Story” under Articles By Us.]
Billy Dawn Smith wrote most of the Crests hits, including ““Step by Step,”, “The Angels Listened In,” “Trouble in Paradise,” “Six Nights A Week,” “I Thank The Moon” and “Gee (But I’d Give The World)”. In all, Billy has written more than 700 songs, recorded by the Crests, the Sensations (“Please Mr. Disc Jockey”), the Wanderers (“Great Jumpin’ Catfish”), Aretha Franklin, the Cleftones (“Neki Holey”), Perry Como, Nat “King” Cole (“Angel Smile”), the Miller Sisters, the Sheppard Sisters, the Marcels, the Ames Brothers (“Little Gypsy”), the Passions (“This Is My Love”), James Darren (“Pin A Medal On Joey”}, Laverne Baker (“Mine All Mine”), Shelly Fabares, the Platters (“Out Of My Mind”), Ruth Brown & Clyde Mc Platter (“Love Has Joined Us Together”), Roy Hamilton, the Five Satins (“To The Aisle”), Carla Thomas, Percy Sledge, the Bay Bops (“Follow The Rock”), Barbara Massey (“You Call Me Angel”) and many more. What a body of work!
The Tribute was hosted by Alex Augustine (“The host with the most”). The entertainment was fantabulous. In order of their performance the singers were: The Tribunes (all acappella), Nostalgix, New Shades of Soul, The Silver Fox, The Super Girl Group (Louise Murray, Lillian Walker-Moss, Beverly Warren and Nanette Licari), Tina DeCara, Pookie Hudson’s Spaniels, and Jimmy Keyes’ Chords. Billy received an award for his outstanding contributions to the music industry. Some of Billy’s friends joined him and even sang. Willie Winfield (Harptones), Bill Witt (Rocketones), Bill Carey and Robert Mirre (Danleers), Rich Green, and Joe Hayes. Thanks to Jackie Nunez for all her efforts to make this very special event happen.- Pam & Charlie Horner
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