Vocal group the Exquisites were formed in 1981 in Long Island, New York, USA, by former Gino And The Dells baritone Pete Chacona and tenor Bernie Festo, after Chacona had attended an audition for Festo’s then group. Through local newspaper advertising, John O’Keefe (first tenor) and Bob Thomas (lead, ex-Fascinations) were recruited, while familial ties brought in bass singer George Chacona, Pete’s brother. Rehearsing material by the Moonglows, Flamingos and Harptones, they set about performing at local shows and nostalgia rallies. When O’Keefe left to join the Teenchords in 1983, he was replaced on first tenor by Mike Paccione. Their first recording came in early 1985 when their version of the Shirelles’ ‘Dedicated To The One I Love’ was released on Avenue D Records, followed by an update of the El Dorados’ ‘At My Front Door’. After sending a tape to local R&B revival disc jockey Don K. Reed’s Doo-Wop Shop show in 1985, they found their version of the Solitaires’ ‘Walking Along’ earn a regular slot as opening theme to the highly influential oldies programme. When Paccione departed in 1987, George Santiago (ex-Eternals) came on board, with the line-up also expanded by the arrival of Al Pretea (ex-Dolphins). A little later Zeke Suarez replaced Festo. The group embarked on sessions for their debut album in 1990 with Crystal Ball Records, recording versions of songs by the Drifters, Jive Five and El Dorados, as well as the doo-wop standard ‘Over The Rainbow’.
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