Oct 27, 2015

Love Beat: Tony DeFranco

Listen to my heart beat -- it's a love beat
And when we meet, it's a good vibration

Whatever that means, it brings back a rush of memories of the fall of 1973: pep rallies at Washington Junior High; accidentally touching my friend Dan's hand in science class; reading Greek mythology and Tintin comics; watching Chuck Acri's Creature Feature with my brother in our attic bedroom

The DeFranco Family never hit the heights of the Osmonds or the Jackson Five, but during the 1973-74 school year, they were everywhere, guest stars on every variety show, fave raves in every issue of Tiger Beat, competing with Tony Orlando and Cher to top the pop charts.  (Here Tony DeFranco competes with Tony Orlando to see who wears the tightest pants).

They consisted of five siblings: Nino (age 18), Marisa 19), Benny (20), Tony (14), and  Merlina (16).

In the tradition of Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson, Tony
was the standout star, the source of many semi-nude pinups and many misty-eyed dreams for the heterosexual girls and gay boys at Washington Junior High.

For all the media attention, they recorded only seven songs, and only three charted -- "Heartbeat" (1973), "Abra-Cadabra" (1973), and "Save the Last Dance for Me" (1974).  They're all heterosexist, heavy-laden with "girls" and "babes."  But sometimes tight pants and a killer smile is enough.

A series of disastrous business decisions -- and the rise of disco  -- and maybe Tony's refusal to embark on a solo career -- led to the DeFranco crash.  By 1975, they were working Vegas, and in 1978 they disbanded, taking jobs behind the scenes in the music industry.

Today Tony works as a real estate agent in Westlake Village, a ritzy suburb of L.A.  He still performs occasionally, for fans who have fond memories of being in junior high in 1973.

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