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El Venos

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The El Venos formed in Pittsburgh, PA -- doo wop city -- in 1955, cut their first record a year later, and have been active on the Steel City's music scene ever since. Originally a sextet, the members were Leon Daniels, Daniel Jackson, Anna Mae Jackson, Leon Taylor, Joey Daniels, and Bernard Palmer; the Daniels and Anna are siblings. The 16-year-old high school act cut their first record "Geraldine/Now That We're Together" on RCA Records' Groove subsidiary in 1956. Finances hurt the group more than anything, "Geraldine" made noise and Dick Clark scheduled them on his popular American Bandstand, but they couldn't scrape up the duckies to get from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. Though their record got played up and down the East Coast, the El Venos could only afford to promote it locally. Neither Groove/RCA nor their manager (Bill Powell) helped much with promotions. RCA released the El Venos next recording on their Vik subsidiary. "You Must Be True/My Heart Beats Faster" didn't match the popularity of "Geraldine," but it kept their name fresh. They didn't record again until two years later, this time for Calico Records. Unfortunately, Calico liked another Pittsburgh group (the Skyliners) better, and went with "Since I Don't Have You" by them, while the El Venos sides' are still gathering dust in the vault. The hard luck group also waxed unreleased tracks for Mercury Records. After two releases, Anna left and recorded with the Altairs, a group that featured the legendary George Benson. Once again, nothing came out. She did muster an obscure single in 1959 as Anne Keith on Memo Records. The members went their separate ways. Leon Daniels' keeps the group alive when not toiling at Giant Eagle's Supermarket in Pittsburgh. Appearing as Leon Daniels & el Venos, they've performed at virtually every venue in the area: the Giant Eagle Parking Lot, Keystone Commons, East Pittsburgh Community Center, the Latrobe Festival at Latrobe Legion Park, the Yukon Slovenian Hall, Etna Elks, the Holiday Inn, Italian Club, and every oldies doo wop concert held in the city. In 1968, RCA re released "My Heart Beats Faster," but this time the flip was "You Won't Be True," not "You Must Be True," presumably culled from RCA's vault. ~ Andrew Hamilton

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