The Tonettes

Best remembered for the girl group classic "Oh! What a Baby," the Tonettes formed in the Bronx in 1957 -- when their television went on the fritz, sisters Diana and Sylvia Sanchez resorted to harmonizing by the family piano to kill time, so impressing TV repairman and aspiring music biz impresario Lou Ezzo that he convinced the siblings to cut a demo session. After recruiting classmate Josie Allen, the trio dubbed themselves the Claremonts in honor of the street the Sanchez family called home -- Ezzo soon licensed their debut effort, "Why Keep Me Dreaming," to the Apollo label, ultimately selling the girls' contract to Apollo vice president Charles Merenstein. When Merenstein launched his own Doe label, he brought the Claremonts with him, rechristening the group the Tonettes -- the Allen-penned "Oh! What a Baby" hit retail in early 1958, proving so popular on East Coast radio that ABC-Paramount licensed the disc for national release. Despite charting in pockets of the U.S., "Oh! What a Baby" failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100, and after contributing uncredited backing vocals to singer Vince Castro's single "Bong Bong (I Love You Madly)," the Tonettes cut their follow-up, "Uh-Oh" -- when the single failed to catch fire, the trio's recording career came to a close, and they split in 1962. ~ Jason Ankeny

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