The Aquatones were formed as "The Rhythm Kings" in September 1956. The original members were Dave Goddard, Larry Vannata, and Gene McCarthy. They got together to record a song written by Dave for their junior class play at Valley Stream Central High School on Long Island. All of them played instruments as well as sang – Gene on clarinet and tenor sax, Larry on alto and tenor sax, Dave on piano. They added a drummer – their friend Bob Boden – to perform their music live. They were never a dance band – all of their songs were original, and they hoped to be "discovered" and become recording stars. They played some of their home recordings for a classmate's father, a record distributor, and he suggested that they needed a high voice in the group. Shortly thereafter, Larry met Lynne Nixon at a dance, found out that she sang, and asked Gene and Dave to give her an audition. They agreed and were happy to hear Lynne's beautiful voice. At first, she sang only backgrounds, until Larry wrote the song "You" for her to sing.
After changing their name to the Aquatones – so the guys could wear a "cool" shirt from the 1950s (aqua with a black velvet "V" down the front – see the picture at the end of this page) as a uniform – the group continued their efforts to land a recording contract. In November 1957 they appeared in a talent show in the neighboring town of Malverne, NY. At that show, they were heard by Lou Fargo, a local realtor who wanted to get into the music business – and Fargo asked them the question they'd been waiting to hear:
"How'd you like to make a record?"
Fargo was interested in working with a vocal group, so Bob, the non-singing drummer, left. The group's very first release, in January of 1958, was the ballad "You", with the rocker "She's The One For Me" on the flip side. Helped by airplay on American Bandstand, "You" soon hit the Top 40 charts all over the country. It reached #7 in New York, #1 in Boston, and #21 on the Billboard national pop charts.
After "You", the Aquatones released 6 more singles, but none of them made the charts. Their last single, "Crazy For You" b/w "Wanted (A Solid Gold Cadillac)" was released in July 1961. After that, the Aquatones went their separate ways. Lynne stayed on Long Island, Larry moved to New Hampshire, Gene moved to the midwest and then to Atlanta, and Dave moved to California, Ohio, and finally Kentucky. Most important, Lynne stopped singing. Though the group members remained friends and stayed in touch, it was difficult to get together to perform – and without Lynne, they were missing the "sound" for which they were known.
In 1998, Dave happened to hear a young lady sing who sounded amazingly similar to Lynne. A year passed before Dave was introduced to the wonderful fans of doowop, and realized there were lots of people who still loved this music. He sought out this singer and approached her to see if she would consider singing with the Aquatones. The young lady, Colette Delaney, had had a career in musical theatre, and to Dave's pleasant surprise, expressed interest in singing with the group. Colette and Dave started making "demo" recordings of some of the Aquatones' old music. They played the recordings for doowop fans, and the reaction was unanimous - "Give us more!!" So Dave and Colette selected some songs that the Aquatones had recorded in the 50s and 60s – and selected other songs that other groups had recorded in the golden age of doowop – and Dave, inspired by Colette's voice, started writing songs again. Those who have heard Dave's new compositions pay him the ultimate compliment – "Gee, your new songs sound like they were written in the 50s!" That's good news for doowop fans!
So, thanks to Dick Plotkin and Debra Records, Dave and the rest of the Aquatones – including both of the other original male group members, Gene and Larry – went back into the recording studio in 2001 to record their new CD. After the CD was released and the group started preparing to do concert work, they realized that it would be impossible to rehearse properly with the original members spread out over the country. So, since both Dave and Colette were in Louisville (KY), they found 2 new members from Louisville to become part of the “performing group” of Aquatones – Rich Hornung and Paul King. Together, this “new” group of Aquatones has appeared on TV (“Red, White and Rock” on PBS in 2002), at Madison Square Garden in New York, and at numerous other venues. The fantastic vocal harmonies delivered by this group have earned them praise wherever they have performed.
And – the new group has recorded enough additional material for several new CDs! Keep watching the “For Sale” page on this website for their latest releases. And for collectors, the original Aquatones (Dave, Gene, and Larry) have dug through their archives and found some amazing “fossils of the fifties” that are also offered for sale.
The Aquatones are back – now forty-five years later, but better than ever! – and waiting to “wow” fans of vocal group harmony in a whole new century! Not only that, but their hit song, “You”, has recently been aired on two different episodes of the smash TV show, “The Sopranos” on HBO (2000 and 2003), as well as on the TV series, “I’ll Fly Away”. The song was also on the sound track of director Martin Scorsese’s first major motion picture, “Mean Streets” – demonstrating that the “sound of the Aquatones” has never gone out of style!
One sad note... We were so sorry to learn that Lynne passed away in January 2001. The Aquatones dedicated their first new CD, “40 Years Later”, to her memory, and think she would be proud of the way they sound today. We believe you will feel the same way when you hear them.