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.