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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Out There!: "Heartbeat (It's A Lovebeat)" by The DeFranco Family

Just like there is Justin Bieber, The Jonas Brothers, and Zac Efron making little girls scream in today’s society, back in the 1970’s their mothers were doing some screaming of their own for teen idols David Cassidy, Leif Garrett, and Tony DeFranco. Wait, Tony DeFranco, who is that? You might not know who I’m referring to, but he was yet another of the many teen idols featuring in Teen Beat and 16 magazines in the early 70's. I also assure you that he is no relation to indie music darling Ani DeFranco. Tony DeFranco was supposed to be the next Donny Osmond, but his star power didn’t last too long. I have kept comparing Justin Bieber to Tony DeFranco on this blog, and the reason is because I truly believe twenty years from now nobody will remember him just like people have forgotten Tony DeFranco. But the reason why I am also referencing Tony DeFranco for this week’s column is because of the cheesy but classic tune he and his family recorded in 1973, Heartbeat (It’s A Lovebeat).

The DeFranco family was a family pop group from Ontario that attempted to cash in on the fame of other family-oriented acts like The Osmonds, The Jackson 5, and The Brady Bunch. Featuring Benny on keyboard, Marisa on guitar, Nino on drums, and of course little Tony on lead vocals, The DeFranco family were considered the Italian version of The Osmonds. Per a demo that was heard and pushed hard by the editor of Teen Beat, the DeFranco family soon was signed to a record deal with 20th Century Records. Featuring the lead vocals of 13-year old Tony, the DeFranco Family's first single Heartbeat (It's A Lovebeat) hit the charts reaching #3 on the Top 100 chart and selling two million copies in the process. The success and key marketing strategy led to Tony and his brothers and sisters receiving much buzz in kiddie magazines. Their next two singles would also reach the Top #40, but failed to live up to their first hit, "Heartbeat". Upon the record company's decision to fire their original producer and replace him with Mike Curb who was ironically successful producing the Osmonds, the DeFranco Family was on the verge of becoming yet another fad of the times. Curb wanted to make them a cover band, but the DeFranco family wanted to continue to record new music which led to a horrible meltdown. Because the record company had full control of the band and didn't like that these little punks wouldn't do what was asked, the band was dropped immediately by their label. They also managed to piss off their manager who left them for dead. Although they continued performing until 1978 as a Vegas attraction, the DeFranco family would never be able to get a second chance in the music biz. It also didn't help that human nature wasn't too kind to Tony who didn't age very well during his adolescence and was no longer the cute 13-year old kid with the angelic voice. By the 80's, the DeFranco Family was just another casualty of the music business. The DeFranco siblings would find other avenues other than music, including Tony who is now working as a successful real estate agent in California. I hope Justin Bieber becomes the next Tony DeFranco, and not the next Danny Bonaduce!

I had no real knowledge of this song until catching it on an episode of the legendary VH1 show, Eight Track Flashback back in 1998. The song is pure cheese, but pretty damn hilarious and a good example of how awful some of the music from the 70's was. Check out the video below, I mean c'mon those dance moves would make Michael Jackson jealous! By no means could I say this song is a wonderful recording, but it sure is one of those obscure pop culture nuggets that I like to share with people.

Ladies and gentlemen... Heartbeat (It's A Lovebeat) by The DeFranco Family

"Heartbeat, it’s a lovebeat! Listen to my heart pound, listen to my love sound!"

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