Twilight Memories
an illustrated history — PART 3  
 

These Twilight Memories pages feature an expanded version of an article that first appeared in Cool & Strange Music Magazine #21 in the summer of 2001.

Article contents ©2004 Michael David Toth and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without express permission of the author.

 

By the mid-1950s, the Three Suns were essentially two entities: Al Nevins' stayed in New York to make records with arrangers Sid Ramin and Charles Albertine and production collaborator Don Kirshner (yes, that Don Kirshner). Artie Dunn had another touring incarnation on the road, with a legion of musicians figuring into the mix, including accordionists Tony Lovello, Joe Vento, and Pete Selvaggio and guitarists Del Kacher, Joe Negri, and Johnny Romano. Somewhat of a timeline can be developed, but the group photos throughout this page represent a rather confusing fossil record.

Who?

NOTE: If you're able to identify any of our "mystery Suns" in these photos, please help!!!

Who?

Tony Lovello
Tony Lovello appears to be the first supplementary Sun, as the first accordionist to fill Morty Nevins' stage shoes. Lovello entered the picture somewhere around 1954, followed by Joe Vento in 1959, and then Pete Selvaggio from 1961-1963. Charles Magnante also played for an interim period in Vegas during the Lovello era in 1957.

After a stint with Arthur Godfrey, Tony Lovello replaced Morty Nevins in Pittsburgh, becoming perhaps the first and longest running of the second-string Suns. Lovello left the group prior to their Japan tour, pursued other projects of his own, and for health and other reasons retired from music for several years. Recently, he has begun actively touring, mostly at Accordion conventions and seminars and released a CD. He also has a Web site at www.accordionmusic.com with accordion instruction resources, including custom-made, by-request training videos, showing technique for specific songs. If you're not an accordionist, but would just like to, say, get a command performance video of "Malagueña" or "Caravan," visit his Web site.


 

Joe Vento was the accordionist to join Del Casher for the Japan tour, and played with the group from 1959-1961. He later recorded two or three LPs for the Florida-based budget label Surf Side. The first of which, Joe Vento Golden Hits Vol. 1 is an astonishing, arcane Three Suns curio and copyright violation case study. Along with one original song and a version of "Love Story" that dates the LP, Joe had the audacity to claim as his own several exact RCA recordings of songs from Three Suns albums. On this LP, Joe overdubs occasional organ and accordion noodling on top of recordings lifted straight from Twilight Memories, Warm & Tender, and One Enchanted Evening (i.e. Suns sessions where Vento didn't even himself originally perform). To make it even more audacious, the cover art plagiarizes the lettering and graphics scheme of Roger Williams' album of the same title. According to www.oncircuit.com in 2001, "Joe is currently appearing at Paris Las Vegas, and about once a month when he can, he takes a break from the Las Vegas venue to conduct his band on Wednesday nights at the Las Hadas Supper Club in Northridge, California."

Morty and Who Knows
(from the Swingin' on a Star cover)

Pete Selvaggio performed live with the group from 1961-1963 and played on the Warm and Tender sessions. He moved to Florida from Cleveland, Ohio for health reasons in 2001, and continued to play accordion and jazz piano there. He passed away in Florida in late December 2003.

Mid-to-late 1950s live guitarist Del Casher (then spelled "Kacher") currently runs a sound studio in Burbank, CA for movie and TV work, and boasts a mind-boggling, seemingly endless odd resume that includes recordings and live performances with Ray Conniff, Elvis, Gene Autry, Lawrence Welk, early Mothers of Invention, Rodd Keith and other MSR "song-poem" records, and the 50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett. He was the main man behind the electronic-sounding Sounds of the Sonic Sixties LP by Bill Page and his "all-amplified orchestra," with Vox organ and horns and big band instruments run through wah-wah pedals. He was also musical director for TV's New Zoo Revue in the 1970s.

Guitarist Joe Negri is also still actively playing, currently based in the Pittsburgh, PA area. He has a Web site at www.joenegri.com with biographical information and news of current recordings and performances. Johnny Romano was another early guitarist for the group, with few extant details.


      >>> ON TO PART 4 — AN EVOLUTION OF STYLE

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