Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b Francis Thomas Avallone, 18 Sep. '40, Philadelphia PA) Singer. Played trumpet as a child; guest spots on TV as a prodigy, instrumental single on RCA's X label. Formed group Rocco and the Saints with future rival Bobby Rydell, but did not record again until '57, signed by music publishers to new Chancellor label; with constant access to locally-based American Bandstand TV show, became big star in teen idol genre: 24 hits '58--62. Third single 'De De Dinah' no. 7 USA due to Avalon's pinching his nose to make distinctive adenoidal sound. 'Venus' was no. 1 for five weeks in USA, reaching no. 3 in UK; the syrupy song with Avalon singing flat is a contender for all-time worst hit. 'Why' '60 also no. 1, but he was eclipsed by Rydell, a better singer on rival Cameo label. Appeared in films incl. beach party epics; later Alan Ladd's last, The Carpetbaggers '62 (role too small to be mentioned in film reference books). Disco remake of 'Venus' surprise top 50 hit '76; floated up in Grease '78; The Idolmaker '80 profiled Chancellor's Bob Marcucci, who with Peter DeAngelis pulled strings for Avalon and Fabian. Attended Bandstand anniversaries; '85 tour with Fabian and Rydell as 'The Golden Boys of Bandstand'.