The Videls - Biography
The Videls were the first of several groups formed by the durable song-writing team of Pete Anders and Vinnie Poncia, both born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1941 (April 28) and 1942.
Anders (nee Andreoli) formed the Videls in 1958 with Norman Marzano, Bobby Cilitri and Herb Rickey. Poncia left another group to join the Videls in time for their first recording, ‘A Place In My Heart’, on the Rhody label. By 1959, Anders and Poncia were writing together seriously and a family connection led to a publishing deal with Southern Music in New York.
The Videls signed with JDS Records, a label run by veteran songwriter Joe Sherman, who arranged and produced ‘Mr. Lonely’ at Bell Sound Studios.
‘Mister Lonely’ was originally written for another group, the Mystics, who had met Andreoli and Poncia in Providence, Rhode Island in 1959.The Mystics declined, so Andreoli and Poncia recorded it with their own group, now called The Videls.
The Videls had a big hit with the release on JDS Records, but by late 1961 the group had broken up, so Allie Contrera and George Galfo of The Mystics and Pete Andreoli and Vinny Poncia of The Videls joined forces and performed as both The Mystics and The Videls. Albee Cracolici also sang with this group for a short time. At one point they added a girl named Rose to help them imitate the sound of The Skyliners.
To help with personal appearances, Pete and Vinny borrowed brown suits from two of the inactive Mystics, and the group appeared on Clay Cole’s show as the Mystics singing ‘Darling I Know Now’. The next week they returned to Cole’s show (in the same brown suits) as The Videls. At first Clay Cole had a fit and told them they couldn’t possibly go on the show but he relented and they appeared as The Videls singing ‘A Letter From Ann’. (This Videls tune was recorded for Kapp Records with Pete and Vinny over dubbing their own voices).
In 1963, Andreoli and Poncia released ‘Hand Clappin’ Time Parts 1 and Part 2’ on Big Top Records.
Pete Anders and Vinnie Poncia became a mini production line in the sixties as a writing / production team for Hill & Range music publishers, then with Phil Spector, writing among others the Ronettes’ hits ‘Do I Love You’ and ‘(The Best Part Of) Breaking Up’, also for Darlene Love and an early single by Cher (as Bonnie Jo Mason).
They were the vocal talent behind the Tradewinds (‘New York’s A Lonely Town’, US No.32, 1965 and ‘Mind Excursion’, US No.52, 1966) and the Innocence (‘There’s Got To Be A Word’, US No.34, 1967 and ‘Mairzy Doats’, US No.75, 1967).
They signed with Warner Bros in the late ’60s and cut the ‘Anders & Poncia’ album produced by Richard Perry, and then split up. Anders made a solo album in 1972.
Poncia became Ringo Starr’s writing partner in the seventies, also working with Perry on six Melissa Manchester albums, two by Kiss and a solo album by Peter Criss, plus work with Fanny (1974), Lynda Carter and Mary Travers (1978) and, Ellen Foley (1983).
Little of that illustrious future can have been obvious to those who bought ‘Mr. Lonely’ in 1960. Firmly teen pop, with shades of the Skyliners and the Fleetwoods mixed with Thomas Wayne, this clean-cut all-American song reached No.73 in the US chart.
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