Monday, June 18, 2012

The DeFranco Family--Heartbeat, It's a Lovebeat (1973)

     In the history of modern rock/pop there have been three golden eras of teen idols: The early 60's where the sub genre began through the male idols that came up in the wake of the pillars of rock and roll declining. Those would include (but not exclusive to) Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Rydell and others would fit in this group. The 70's, which began with the triumvirate of The Osmonds, Partridge Family, Bobby Sherman,  and The Jackson 5 and finished with Shawn Cassidy and Leif Garrett. The 90's finished out this group starting with The New Kids On the Block and ending with Hanson, The Backstreet Boys, N'ync, and a plethora of sub par boy bands. There has certainly been others outside these periods, such as The Monkees in the late 60's, and New Edition in the 80's. However, the three mentioned at the beginning were truly special if you dig that kind of thing.  
     The DeFranco Family falls in the period in the middle of the 70's, which was good for them since the fervor over the Cassidy/Osmond axis had died down quite a bit. The teen idol machine was looking or someone new and they found it in the Italian family from Ontario. The five siblings, Benny, Marisa, Nino, Merlina and Tony, were known as the DeFranco Quintet and a tape of one of their performances got to Sharon Lee, who at the time was editor of the magazine, Teen Beat. She arranged for them to fly to California to record a three song demo which lead to them being signed by 20th Century Records.
     "Heartbeat, It's a Lovebeat" was the first song out of the gate which reached #3 in 1973. It's easy to think today of the group as a one hit wonder, but they also had two other top 40 hits, "Abra-ca-dabra" (#32 in 1973)  and "Save The Last Dance For Me" (#18 in 1974). The hits stopped coming by the middle of 74, but they stayed together as a group until 1978.


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