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Tony Orlando and Dawn was an American pop music group that was popular in the 1970s. Their signature hits include "Candida", "Knock Three Times", "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree", and "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)".
Tony Orlando was born Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis on 3 April 1944. After almost a decade of singing and with only three Top 40 hits, two in 1961 and another in 1969 as the lead singer for the studio group Wind, he had not had any further successes. He stopped singing entirely, and by 1970 he was a retired demo singer. He began publishing music for April-Blackwood Music, a division of Columbia Records, instead.
Then Orlando received "Candida," a song that other producers and singers had turned down. Orlando was not able to originally lend his name to the song, as he was working for April-Blackwood, and recording under his own name would be a professional conflict of interest. After an insistence by producer Hank Medress that he dub his voice over the male vocals on the original track, the single was released on Bell Records as being performed by the band "Dawn", to protect his position.
The background singers on the track were Sharon Greane, Linda November, Jay Siegel, and Toni Wine, who co-wrote the song. Phil Margo played drums on the original session, and the arranger was Norman Bergen. After the single hit No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 (#1 on the Cashbox Top 100), Orlando wanted to start performing again. The ensemble then recorded the follow-up song "Knock Three Times", which topped the Hot 100 on 23 January - 6 February 1971.
Bell Records was desperate to have a real-life act to promote Dawn's records. Orlando asked former Motown/Stax backing vocalists Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson to become Dawn. The threesome then went on the road after "Candida" and "Knock Three Times". After a tour of Europe, Hopkins and Vincent assumed background vocal duties in the studio as well. They were joined in the studio by Vincent's sister Pamela Vincent, who in addition to singing, arranged all the backing vocals. Prior touring commitments with Aretha Franklin prevented Vincent from appearing with Dawn on tour. The first single with their voices in the background was "Runaway/Happy Together" in 1972.
The group (now billed as 'Dawn featuring Tony Orlando') released another single in 1973, and it almost immediately became their next No. 1 single — "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree." In terms of sales, this single was the most successful in the group's career, starting a string of seven consecutive Hot 100 appearances with long titles by the group.
Period of group's variety show
The group's next single, "Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose" (from their concept album Dawn's New Ragtime Follies), went to No. 3 on the Hot 100, followed by similarly flavored top 40 hits "Who's In The Strawberry Patch With Sally" (the first single with recording credit "Tony Orlando & Dawn") (#27), "Steppin' Out (Gonna Boogie Tonight)" (#7), and, with some disco influence, "Look in My Eyes Pretty Woman" (#11), from their 1974 album Prime Time.
CBS gave the group a television variety show (entitled Tony Orlando and Dawn) from the summer of 1974, after The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour ended its run, until December 1976. The show was in the same vein as its predecessor (with sketches featuring sarcastic back-and-forth banter between Orlando, Hopkins and Vincent, similar to the sarcastic dialogue between Sonny and Cher) and became a Top 20 hit.
With a new record label (Elektra), the group continued their string of hit singles during the show's run, hitting the Top 10 on the Hot 100 and/or adult contemporary charts, including "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)" (a reworking of Jerry Butler's "He Will Break Your Heart") (#1) and "Mornin' Beautiful" (#14). In 1975 a remake of the Sam Cooke song "Cupid" became the group's last Top 40 single on the Hot 100. "Sing" reached No. 7 on the Adult Contemporary Chart in 1977. The group went their separate ways later that year and would have only one more single, 1991's "With Ev'ry Yellow Ribbon (That's Why We Tie 'Em)".
On The Carol Burnett Show Harvey Korman, Carol Burnett and Vicki Lawrence did a spoof of Tony Orlando and Dawn; at the end of the skit, the song was finished by the real Tony Orlando and Dawn.
They re-formed in 1988 for a five-week tour that wound up lasting into 1993, with Pamela Vincent finally becoming a visible Dawn member, stepping in whenever Hopkins was fulfilling her acting/television obligations.
Orlando is still a popular appearance performer on tour regularly with the Lefty Brothers and Toni Wine. Hopkins made a very successful acting career for herself in series such as Bosom Buddies, Gimme a Break, Family Matters, Half and Half, and Are We There Yet. The Vincent Sisters continue a prolific career as session singers. A DVD compilation from the variety series was released in 2005 along with the group's catalog of albums on CD. Tony Orlando & Dawn released A Christmas Reunion that same year. Publicity events for those releases marked the first time Hopkins, and both Vincent Sisters appeared onstage together. Toni Wine also participated in those shows. The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2008. Tony Orlando & Dawn occasionally reunites for television and benefit performances. In 2009 Joyce Vincent joined Scherrie Payne and Lynda Laurence's Former Ladies of the Supremes' group. She continues to tour and perform to audiences all over the world.