Our dear friend Arleen "Lee" Lanzotti of the Delicates passed away on Monday, Memorial Day, May 29, 2017.
Denise, Lee and Peggy, from Belleville, NJ, had been friends since the age of eight and by the age of 14 years old and only in the eight grade at Grammar School #8 they had formed a group called the Delicates and already had a recording contract with Unart Records, a subsidiary of United Artists. They got their name because Denise's Dad owned a Delicatessen in their home town.
The three girls arranged and recorded a host of songs on the Unart, and United Artists labels. Their recording of "Black And White Thunderbird," which they wrote and sang and which was produced by the great Billy Mure, has over the years become a "car song" classic in the United States and all over the world.
Lee and her two singing partners wrote and sang a variety of themes for legendary New York City deejay Murray the K’s "Swingin’ Soiree" show on 1010-WINS which were played for well over five years. The themes included "Red Hot and Blue," "Grand Kook," "Meusurry" and the legendary "Submarine Race Watchers." The three became known as "Murray’s Original Dancing Girls," dubbed that by Murray himself. They did numerous T.V. and stage shows including American Bandstand, Clay Cole’s Rate the Record, Alan Freed’s Big Beat and Joe Franklin’s Memory Lane and appeared on huge venues including Palisades Amusement Park, the Comack L.I. Arena and the State Theater in Connecticut.
Lee and the others also did back-up work for such notables as Connie Francis, Al Martino, Don Costa (who produced many of their records), Teddy Randazzo, Neil Sedaka, Johnny Cameron and Frankie Sardo. And they worked with and opened for acts including Connie Francis, Johnny Mathis, Brook Benton, Steve Lawrence, Bobby Darin, and Dion and the Belmonts.
Recently Lee teamed with Denise, Diane Lupo and Jo-Ann Dumas to form a parody rock and roll vocal quartet called The Yaggettes and was planning to tour with them in the near future.
Denise and Lee were best friends for 63 years. Denise offers this comment about Lee.
She had a beautiful singing voice and could harmonize with any person or thing including a doorbell. She was funny, generous to a fault, an incredible writer and artist: she could draw and paint like nobody's business. She was very wise and probably the world's greatest cook. I'm so happy that she lived to see the numerous honors that the Delicates received in the last few years, such as doing a command performance of "Lipstick On Your Collar" for Connie Francis on the night that she was honored in Belleville, being honored at the Friends Of Old Time Radio Convention and the Rock-Con Convention and being celebrated in her hometown of Belleville when her Grammar School auditorium was renamed "The Delicates Auditorium" and honored on their Wall Of Fame with the great Connie Francis and Tommy DeVito of the Four Seasons. And, best of all, having a street in Belleville renamed "Delicates Drive." Those we love don't go away. They walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near. So loved so missed, so very dear. I love you Lee.
Though Lee is gone, our memories of this exceptional individual -- our dear friend -- will live forever and we will always cherish them.