Led by velvety-voiced lead singer Stan Ziska, who later changed his name to Stan Sommers, the del Satins produced some of the sweetest harmonies of the doo wop era. In addition to recording a series of impressive singles -- including "I'll Pray for You," "I Remember the Night," and "Teardrops Follow Me" -- the group provided harmonies for numerous recordings, including Dion's hit "Runaround Sue." They also sang with Dean & Jean, Carlo Mastrangelo, Len Barry, and Ernie Maresca.
Ziska was a member of street-corner singing group the Yorkville Melodys when he met up with members of similar group the Jokers during a rehearsal session at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House in Manhattan. When the Jokers' vocalist failed to show, Ziska was recruited as a replacement. The collaboration proved so successful that he was invited to join the group permanently.
Taking their name from a combination of the names of two bands, the Dells and the Five Satins, the del Satins built a solid following with their live performances between 1958-1961. They placed first in a prestigious city-wide "Battle of the Groups."
Signing with the small, independent End label, the del Satins recorded their debut single, "I'll Pray for You," an original tune by Ziska, and "I Remember the Night." Neither made a dent on the charts. Original vocalist Keith Koestner left the group shortly before recording the single and enlisted in the United States Army. While Mel Kalackman replaced him on the single, the position was later filled by Bobby Failla and, later, by ex-Commotions vocalist Richie Green.
After backing their manager, Jimmy Gribble, on a single, "Poor Little Sad Eyed Sue," released on the Chip label, the del Satins signed with Laurie. Their first session for the label was "Runaround Sue." Success, however, continued to be evasive. Although they copied "Runaround Sue" for their own single, "Counting Teardrops," it failed to generate much interest.
The del Satins suffered a setback with the death of Gribble. After briefly being managed by Wally Rocker, they were taken over by Murray the K's manager, Jay Fontana, who helped book them to perform at Murray the K's multi-artist concerts at the Fox Theater in Brooklyn, NY.
Dion continued to play a role in the del Satins' career. When he defected to Columbia in 1962, he convinced the group to join him, writing and producing their single "Feelin' No Pain" b/w "Who Cares." Despite the label change and Dion's increased involvement, the band continued to struggle for success.
Regular performers on Clay Cole's music TV show from 1963-1965, the del Satins signed with BT Puppy and released their debut album, Out to Lunch. Frustrated by the album's lack of sales, the group disbanded. Although Ziska continued to focus on a solo career, the del Satins were resurrected after a few months by founding member Tommy Ferrara; his brother, Freddy; and new vocalist Carl Parker. They released their final single, "A Little Rain Must Fall," in 1967.
Two years later, founding member Les Cauchi joined with Freddy Ferrera and Johnny Maestro in a reorganized version of the del Satins. This group evolved into Brooklyn Bridge, featuring Maestro's lead vocals on the Top Five single "Worst That Could Happen."
The del Satins were revived for the last time in the early '90s. An album, Still Wandering, was released in 1990 and a single, "I Don't Care," was released five years later.
After leaving the del Satins, Ziska went on to lead Stan Sommers & the Unusuals and the Magnificent Men in the 1980s and early '90s. He performs with the Long Island-based Tangerine. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi