The Yo Yo’s

The Yo Yo’s were all from Brooklyn, NY, becoming one of the biggest groups in the city by 1967. They cut one great 45 on the Coral label, an original song “Crack in My Wall” and a fine adaption of Poe’s “The Raven” on the b-side. I love the thunderous opening chords and drum roll on “The Raven”, ominous and fantastic!

They began when bassist Alan Aaron formed a group called the Starfires. The original singer, Frankie Vee (Nick) brought in Larry Elliott on lead guitar and Tommy Zumba on rhythm in 1965. Tommy Zumba’s friend Jeff Miller became the drummer, and then Pepe Cardona took over from Frankie on vocals.

The band changed their name to the Yo Yo’s when Lou Sudano and Barry Flickstein became their managers, forming Louba Productions. They met the band through Lou’s son Bruce, who was a friend of Jeff Miller. Lou and Barry encouraged the band to replace Pepe with a better singer named Ray Sabatis, who took on the stage name “Christopher Shane”. Pepe remained friends with the band and went on to form Alive N’ Kickin’.

The band won a number of local battle-of-the-bands, played at clubs like Steve Paul’s the Scene, Joel Heller’s Eighth Wonder and the Cheetah, appeared on the John Zacherley TV show Disc-O-Teen, and even toured with the Lester Lanin Orchestra as the ‘rock’ portion of the act.

Larry Elliott and Alan composed the music for both “The Raven” and “Crack In My Wall” and Ray Sabatis (Shane) wrote the words to “Crack In My Wall”. Barry Flickstein’s name appears on the credits to “Crack in My Wall”, but Alan maintains Barry had nothing to do with the songwriting.

“Crack In My Wall” and “The Raven” both received “B+” ratings in Billboard, but Coral didn’t put any promotional effort behind the band.

The band broke up in 1969 due to a combination of having their equipment stolen and a general feeling that they wouldn’t find success. Sadly, Ray Sabatis (Christopher Shane) committed suicide shortly after the group broke up. Photos of the band were taken, but none have surfaced that I know of. Does anyone have a photo of the group?

These Yo Yo’s have nothing to do with the Memphis Yo Yo’s who recorded two 45s for Goldwax.

The main source for this story is a detailed interview of Alan Aaron by Mike Dugo.

15 thoughts on “The Yo Yo’s”

  1. Debbie, this is the second time I have seen the Emanons reference. I kinda remember the name but that is because Billy Flores who I believe was in the group is an old friend of mine. That reminds me I need to email him and see how he is doing.

    Bill

  2. I was alot younger than them, they were the big boys in the neighborhood (Midwood Brooklyn) I was a neighbor of Tommy Zumba (we lived in same building, I hung around rehearsals and sang with Ray Sabatis, Jeffrey Miller has a great business in Brooklyn, and I just saw Pepe of Alive n Kickin today at Tamaqua Marina, he and John Parisio did an wonderful acoustic set. Alive n Kickin are still playing and they put on a spectacular show.

    These bands played locally at the Flatbush Terrace, Action City, Action House. I wish I could find other garage bands like the Emanons (no name spelt backwards), I think Leslie West of Mountain is forming a new band with old members out in Suffolk County somewhere.

  3. I was in a local band back then, we were OK but we hit it off primarily with Larry Elliot. You guys were playing Mosrite Guitars back then if I remember right. And yes, you guys were awesome.

    From our little community came the Yo Yo’s, Alive & Kickin and Dust and if you follow some of those band members find some names like the Ramones.

    Those were great days!

    Thanks for the memories, oh, and do you have any demo 45′s left available, I’d love a buy a copy.

    Bill ‘Glowman’ Smith

  4. Hey Bill Smith (Glowman),
    I wasn’t in the no names Emanons, but I did learn Midnight Hour from one of them during lunch at the Midwood Annex. I sang in a few forgetable bands like The Wish Nicks, Jupiter 5, I Played at the Flatbush Terrace at the same time other better bands were there, like The Silent Souls W/ Pepe Cordona, and Knights of Reign that my old friend Dave was in. December’s Children, The Yo Yo’s. You were there with the Greek and Joey Bennette in the Paragons.

    Larry Elliot and Jeff Miller of The Yo Yo’s came down to our band practice to help us out a couple of times (and we needed alot of help). I thought they were great, and of course they were.

    The Flatbush Terrace, a band in every corner and on stage. Jitter dance’n with all the girls. Ron Pell ( drummer of the Silent Souls) putting on his Beatle wig before their set so he could have long hair while he drummed away. Watching Pepe doing splits and working that microphone. The go go dancers that came with Dust and danced on stage. Some really good bands Passed through the Flatbush Terrace.

  5. I was the lead singer on Leanning On You and all but one of the bands records. I recorded 5 two sided singles from 1967-1970. I have been a practicing architect in Memphis with my own firm since 1977.

  6. Thanks so much for providing info about this great sounding band. I came across their song “the raven” on youtube, searching 60ies tracks, and ever since I heard that song I am absolutely in love with it, it’s a stunning song. I wished so much that I could tell the people who made it, how much this great tune means to someone who wasn’t even born when they created it. Absolutely wonderful song!!!!!!!!

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