A special Tribute to Tom DeCillis
After graduating in 1957 from Broadcasting school in NYC. Tom took a job as a staff announcer at a small station in Havre de Grace, Md.
Soon after that, he returned to NJ to start his own radio show on a Newark station playing rock and roll music. He was able to meet recording artists and record labels as a result of being prompted to play their records on his show. During that time a recording engineer from Newark contacted him and showed interest in making records. He was introduced to the Hollywood Playboys appearing at a lounge in Newark, NJ. The group included Nick Massi, soon to be a part of the 4 Seasons. He arranged to record them and released a record on the Rita label which never went anywhere. But the friendship with Nick Massi did. It lasted until his death in 2000.
In the years 1958 to 1960 he continued playing records and started to manage artists. A group from Staten Island, NY called the Hall Brothers was contacted by DeCillis. They wrote and recorded a song about my 1957 white convertible car. The song “My white Convertible” was a mild success on a small label and the boys appeared on Also Freed’s TV show and others. Also during this time period he produced several rock and roll shows at the Elizabeth, NJ armory with another DJ from the same station he was broadcasting from in NJ. Some of the guests that they showcased were Tom and Jerry (later to be known as Simon & Garfunkel) with their hit “Hey School Girl” , Jerry Vale and several local groups. Another group he got a recording deal for was “The Dynamics” from Plainfield NJ who he later signed to Decca Records. It was during this time that he met two sisters from Orange, NJ , namely Barbara Allbut and Phyliss Allbut at a recording studio in Linden, NJ and signed them to management and added 2 more girls, Bernadette Dalia aka/ Bernadette Carroll from Linden NJ and Linda Malzone from Cliffside Park, NJ to create “The Starlets”. They recorded the old standard “PS I love you” Circa 1961 on the Astro Label.
He also recorded Bernadette Carroll as a solo artist under the Julia and Cleopatra Labels singing “My Heart Stood Still” and many others. He produced many masters and placed them with labels using many musicians from existing local groups who would go on to have hits of their own such as Joey Dee & The Star lighters “Peppermint Twist”, the 4 Seasons “Sherry.
During this time the 4 Seasons and Joey Dee had their own hits and he renewed his friendships with them. His office from the 1650 Building in NYC enabled him to write and place more masters to record companies.
In 1963 Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi of the 4 Seasons hired him to manage a recording studio and production companyin Bloomfield, NJ. Called VitoMass Productions. There he engineered and coordinated many recording sessions along with Tommy and Nicky, wrote several songs with the two while managing the company. It was at this time that a friend of DeVito and Massi came into to cut a demo for him…..His name was Joe Pesci. You know the rest of the story.
His relationship with VitoMass productions led to his appointment as head of the national campaign for The Leukemia Society of America to promote a national telethon with a celebrity to head the the national campaign. Sammy Davis Jr. became the national chairperson and a press conference was announced with the performance at Carnegie Hall in honor of Sammy Davis. Tom wrote the theme song for the performance and had it recorded by Lionel Hampton.
In 1965 to 1967 he continued producing records through his own production company in NYC along with several other partners including his wife Mary. One such artist was Bobby Lee of the Fiestas. His recording of “I Was Born A Loser” which Tom wrote, made the charts on Sue Records and several other artists were released trough Joy Records. He also had the record with Billie & Lillie of “Lucky Lady Bug” fame and placed them with another label.
Through his perseverance continued to write songs with other writers, one in particular: Carmine Lombardo and old time friend and performer. Nick Massi took it to the “Toys’ who had just had a million seller and they recorded it. “Baby Toys” made the National Cashbox and Billboard charts.
Through his attorney he was asked to record Frankie Lymon who was in the Armed Services at the time.
He came to NY on leave from the service and he recorded an old standard over the tracks of an original song
he had previously produced. The record company which initially wanted the record was Columbia.
The Monkee’s singer Davy Jones had a production company and planned to release the record and have Frankie
appear in a comeback episode on their TV show. Unfortunately, it would never happen. The following year
Frankie Lymon passed away.