Tony Orlando Discusses Farewell Tour, Showbiz within the ’70s, His Largest Hits


Over the previous few years, a few of the largest names of ’70s period leisure are deciding to name it a profession. And the most recent is Tony Orlando – who skilled large success all through the aforementioned decade because the lead singer of Tony Orlando and Daybreak (and scoring the #1 hit of 1973 with “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Ole Oak Tree”), starring in a success selection present (additionally known as Tony Orlando and Daybreak), in addition to turning into a long-time headliner in Las Vegas.

Whereas his 60+ yr profession as a live performance performer will wrap up on March twenty second on the Mohegan Solar Area in Uncasville, Connecticut (with a number of different performances main as much as it), he’s not retiring solely – as he’ll proceed to host his standard radio present, Saturday Nights with Tony Orlando.

Orlando spoke with AllMusic a bit of over one month earlier than what will likely be his remaining live performance, and was up for discussing such hits as “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” and “Knock Three Occasions,” a well-known shut buddy who died far too younger, and the way he obtained concerned in radio.

What made you resolve to launch a farewell tour presently?

Orlando: “Nicely, after 64 years…I instructed my spouse, ‘I can nonetheless hit the ball. I simply cannot run the bases.’ And mainly what which means is the entire issues that go on aside from being on stage nowadays I believe is why Elton John has retired, Kenny Loggins has retired, Oak Ridge Boys has retired, Invoice Medley has retired.”

“I believe what it’s – for me, anyway – is touring as we speak, you sit in an airport, delays for 5 hours. You miss your gig, it’s important to come two days earlier, the price of flying, the price of resort rooms. It is simply so loopy. All that sort of stuff provides as much as, ‘Who wants this?’ It is nuts and it is tiring. I am 79 – I will be 80 years outdated in April. I am on this enterprise 64 years, and I assumed, ‘You recognize what? God has blessed me with 64 years. I’d have been proud of 64 days. However 64 years in present enterprise? Go away when you’re nonetheless promoting out. Go away when you nonetheless have your delight…and make on daily basis Saturday.’ That is mainly it.”

What can followers count on on the upcoming remaining exhibits?

Orlando: “1,000% of my coronary heart – to point out my thanks, to all of the help they’ve given me for 64 unbelievable years. This has been a dream journey, man. I began after I was 16 years outdated. My first hit was with Carole King [and Gerry Goffin] – it was her first hit, as properly – known as ‘Midway to Paradise.’ After which Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil – 4 legendary writers, with Carole and Gerry – they received Academy Awards, they’re within the Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame. And we began out as children in 1961 – with Don Kirshner. It has been an unimaginable, unbelievable dream come true.”

“I by no means noticed highschool – I am an eighth grader. My palate has tasted the meals of 36 nations. I have been in a position to work for 9 presidents, I’ve had my very own tv community present on CBS within the ’70s. A present – by the best way – we have been the primary multiracial group to ever have a primetime tv present. 36 million individuals watching us each Wednesday. Tens of millions of data we have bought. So, all of the goals got here true.”

“And to have the ability to say goodbye at Mohegan Solar in Connecticut – which is my favourite venue. I am ending there as a result of it is my household. I have been working that resort since they began in 1998. So, it’ll be great. 12,000-seats, enjoyable, stuffed with performers who’ve been my pals for a few years – from Priscilla Presley to Frankie Valli who’re coming, to David Pack of Ambrosia. I am wanting ahead to an excellent celebration of a blessed life – each by God and by the general public.”

Which songs are your favourite to carry out?

Orlando: “I haven’t got a favourite music to carry out. My ‘music’ is the complete present. I get pleasure from doing the complete present – there is no one music that’s my favourite.”

What have been your preliminary impressions of “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Ole Oak Tree,” and did you’ve gotten any thought it could turn into so profitable?

Orlando: “No, it is like each music you go into the studio. Y’know, the women and I – Tony Orlando and Daybreak – have 5 #1 data. They have been ‘Candida,’ ‘Knock Three Occasions,’ ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Ole Oak Tree,’ ‘Say, Has Anyone Seen My Candy Gypsy Rose,’ and ‘He Do not Love You (Like I Love You).’ Every a type of classes, you do not stroll in, ‘Oh, I am slicing a success.’ You stroll in going, ‘I wish to make an excellent document. I wish to make an excellent product.’ And that takes care of itself. I went in considering, ‘Wherever it takes me, it takes me.'”

“That document, ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon,’ I first carried out it to welcome dwelling our POW’s from Vietnam on the Cotton Bowl with Bob Hope in 1973. After which, welcomed dwelling our hostages from Iran after 444 days – the yellow ribbon was tied across the area shuttle to welcome them dwelling. Superb. After which, it was the theme or the brand that led Desert Storm troops in that warfare – they got here dwelling to yellow ribbons. Then in Iraq and Afghanistan, the identical. Then, as this warfare is preceded in Israel, proper now in Jerusalem they’re sporting yellow ribbons in honor and hoping in prayer that these hostages come dwelling. And that is all as a result of I walked right into a studio on a wet afternoon in New York Metropolis. Who knew?”

“In case you go to Hong Kong proper now, they’re combating for his or her democracy – their theme music is ‘Yellow Ribbon’ and their brand is a yellow ribbon. In case you go to Singapore, the yellow ribbon is used as a welcoming dwelling for prisoners who’re coming dwelling. So, anyone who has served in army, that music turned a freedom anthem, a welcoming dwelling anthem – reached method past a success document. Did I ever have the thought that will occur?”

“And what? It is allowed me to work for our army – due to that music popping out in 1973 and welcoming dwelling our POW’s – I made a decision to dedicate my life as a performer to elevating cash for veterans. And due to ‘Yellow Ribbon,’ they inform me it is properly over $100 million that has been raised on behalf of our veterans since 1973. That reaches a degree that goes past any expectation.”

And what about “Knock Three Occasions”?

Orlando: “‘Knock Three Occasions’ is the most important promoting document I’ve ever had. ‘Yellow Ribbon’ in its preliminary launch did two million data. ‘Knock Three Occasions’ in its preliminary launch did 4 million data. So, ‘Knock Three Occasions’ has been an incredible hit for me. One that every era has picked up as their very own. As an illustration, it was in a film known as Now and Then – younger women had that film as a part of their ‘backpack,’ so to talk. That music was written by the identical writers who wrote ‘Yellow Ribbon’ – L. Russell Brown and Irwin Levine. They wrote our hits. What Burt Bacharach was wish to Dionne Warwick, they have been to us. I owe them a lot. As a result of they have been the songwriters.”

In 1973, you started headlining in Vegas. What do you recall about that period in Vegas, and the way does it examine to as we speak?

Orlando: “After I got here to Vegas, the headliners have been the Rat Pack. So, they have been my pals – I turned pals with Frank, Sammy, and Jerry. I hosted the Jerry Lewis Telethon for 33 years. So, that was Vegas. They have been Vegas. Don Rickles was Vegas. I discovered myself in that crowd. Superb time in Vegas it was. As a result of Vegas, I did not understand within the late ’60s and early ’70s it was booming – to turn into the Vegas that now.”

“The Vegas that now’s one thing that can not be described. It is a hundred instances extra thrilling – extra buildings, extra exhibits. Like, when Steve Wynn introduced in Cirque du Soleil, that was an $80 million present. An $80 million expense to place that present on. You did not have somebody like Criss Angel – who sells out each present, and has for the final 13 years. An unbelievable profession he is had there.”

“You had the Tremendous Bowl this week. You have a look at the stadium, Allegiant Stadium…after I was right here, there was no sports activities city. There was sports activities betting, however there was no sports activities city. Now, you’ve gotten the Raiders, the Tremendous Bowl, the NHL Staff the Knights, and now you’ve gotten the Athletics coming in from Oakland as a baseball group.”

“So, Vegas has turn into – I imagine – the sports activities capital of the world now. Why? If the Tremendous Bowl involves a city wherever within the nation, it is like, ‘Whoa! We have got the Tremendous Bowl!’ When the Tremendous Bowl involves Vegas, it equals out. The thrill is each for town and for that occasion. It is one of many few instances you may ever see the Tremendous Bowl meet a metropolis that is as well-known and conscious of the world as Vegas. So, Vegas is on a distinct platform as we speak than it was after I began.”

“Keep in mind, after I began, the Hilton Lodge – the place I labored – was the place Elvis labored. I used to be there for ten years. And in that resort now, I look again on it and I believe, ‘Viva Las Vegas’ actually rebirthed his profession. In that constructing.’ And I had the privilege of working the identical stage as him. So, from Sinatra to Presley to the Tremendous Bowl, you possibly can’t ask for higher.”

Who have been a few of your favourite company on the Tony Orlando and Daybreak Present?

Orlando: “It is fascinating, as a result of we had all people on that present you possibly can probably title. However the ones that reoccurred that have been my favorites, was a comic named Ruth Buzzi. She was a part of a present known as Snigger-In, and she or he was a hysterical, genius, Chaplin-like comic. She was superb. Additionally, she was the one that you simply noticed on The Dean Martin Roast. She was considered one of my favourite individuals.”

“After which Phyllis Diller – who additionally was a comic again then. In case you look on YouTube, there’s a great scene along with her, the place I got here to welcome her and I grabbed her in my arm, and her wig obtained caught in my cuff hyperlink. After I pulled my arm away…off got here the wig! And poor Phyllis was left with nothing. She was actually bald. I used to be so embarrassed – you possibly can hear me say, ‘I am going to lower this out. I promise.’ And she or he says, ‘No! You possibly can’t lower this out! That is the funniest chortle we’ll ever get!’ These are the varieties of individuals I had the pleasure of working with.”

“After which in fact, Jerry Lewis – who I idolized as a child rising up. And have become pals with him due to his look on my present in 1976. After which he gave me the respect of co-hosting the Telethon with him and Sammy Davis Jr. for 30 years.”

What do you attribute to the recognition of TV selection exhibits within the ’70s?

Orlando: “Keep in mind, there have been solely three networks. There was no Cable. There was CBS, ABC, and NBC. That was it. So, it was a pure time for what I’d name extra of a vaudevillian sort of comedy and sketches – that was utilized to my present, The Carol Burnett Present, and The Sonny and Cher Present. All of us had these comparable sort of comedy sketches. In fact, so did Saturday Evening Stay, which got here in on the similar time – they have been simply being born.”

“At present, tv does not have that sort of selection – apart from Saturday Evening Stay. And what took its place are exhibits like The Masked Singer, American Idol, The Voice. That is the range exhibits as we speak. So music and comedy have been a pure match for prime time tv. I am very proud that I used to be a part of a time in tv that was a trailblazing time. As a result of when Telma [Hopkins], Joyce [Vincent], and I – Tony Orlando and Daybreak – went on the air, we have been the primary and solely multiracial singing group to ever personal a major time tv present. And by the best way – it is nonetheless that solution to at the present time.”

You have been an in depth buddy of Freddie Prinze. What was he actually like?

Orlando:Freddie was probably the most unimaginable comedic expertise to come back upon this enterprise. And he solely was within the enterprise for 2 years. I am having fun with my sixty fourth yr. And he was my ‘youthful brother.’ He was from Washington Heights in New York, I used to be from Chelsea in New York. He was from a Hungarian/Puerto Rican household, I used to be from a Greek/Puerto Rican household. We each understood the identical dinners that we had, we understood the identical meals we had. And I misplaced an excellent younger brother – he was ten years youthful than me.”

“However think about this – it is a younger man that had two years on this enterprise, they usually nonetheless keep in mind him. Similar to you probably did. Freddie was method forward of his time. Freddie – on the age of 20/21 – hosted The Tonight Present. That claims all of it. After we did The Dean Martin Roast collectively, we have been like two brothers on that present – in awe of the truth that we have been there with all these nice stars. We have been simply younger children. Freddie was a comedic genius – he actually was. An awesome loss to point out enterprise and to the general public.”

You additionally host Saturday Nights with Tony Orlando. How do you want working in radio?

Orlando: “I’ve at all times needed to work in radio. It is humorous, in all of the years on this enterprise, you spend a whole lot of time on radio. And I keep in mind one yr I used to be requested to come back on WABC or WCBS with Bruce Morrow, and do 5 hours – changing him for an evening. And I assumed, ‘Man, this could be nice to do.’ By no means considering that sometime I’d be doing it.”

“What occurred was I obtained a name from the homeowners of WABC radio throughout the pandemic, they usually mentioned, ‘Would you wish to a two-hour radio present for me?’ John Catsimatidis who owns the station is an outdated buddy of mine. And I mentioned, ‘I am going to do no matter you need.’ By no means considering it could transcend that point. I assumed I used to be doing him a favor – to be sincere with you.”

“Then I began doing the present, and I began creating theme exhibits – I began creating exhibits that have been kind of documentaries about my pals who I’ve had on as company. Like Clive Davis – I did 4 hours with Clive. It was actually fascinating, introspective looking for how Clive discovered and nurtured all these nice stars at Columbia Information. And I had an opportunity to work with him as his vp earlier than I had hits as a performer. I ran the music division for Clive – I signed Barry Manilow and represented James Taylor and Blood, Sweat & Tears. So, I had an excellent run with him.”

“However radio permits me to do two issues. Play nice music, play music from all genres, from all many years, even now. And in addition, interview a few of these nice performers that I’ve developed friendships with. So, it has been a joyful journey. And I hope it continues. I am having fun with that. I do it from dwelling with my brother David, and it is turn into an enormous hit – so I am very pleased. I get pleasure from radio very a lot. To make use of an outdated expression, it is ‘the theater of the thoughts.’ So, you create imaginative and prescient for individuals. You create ‘seems to be’ of their heads, hopefully. And the response will inform you whether or not you succeeded or not. It is nice.”

You latterly had Paul Stanley of Kiss on as a visitor. Are you pals with Paul?

Orlando: “I’m. My supervisor, Susan Maneo, was a vp of Casablanca Information. And this was earlier than she managed me – she additionally managed Donna Summer season‘s profession. And I met Paul with Gene Simmons within the ’70s – after they began. After which he turned very shut pals to a younger man that is sort of a son to me – and that is Criss Angel. So, Criss Angel and Paul are very tight, very shut. We obtained collectively in the future at his birthday celebration, and Paul mentioned, ‘When am I doing all your radio present? What are you ready for?!’ He is an excellent man. And I like his soul album, Soul Station: Now and Then. After I performed cuts from that, the response from the viewers was unbelievable.”

“The identical factor with Bruce Springsteen and his album, Solely the Sturdy Survive – one other album very like Paul’s album. Paying tribute to the individuals who impressed them. I used to be simply inducted into the New Jersey Corridor of Fame, and Clive and Dionne Warwick had me are available. So, Bruce comes as much as me singing my first hit document, ‘Midway to Paradise.’ I mentioned, ‘Hey! You recognize this music?’ He goes, ‘Tony, come on. We grew up on that music. 1961. ‘Midway to Paradise’.’ It thrilled my soul that he and all these guys know that music.”

Future plans?

Orlando: “I wish to flex my writing muscle. It is a part of the inventive juices that I’ve, that I’ve not paid a lot consideration to – though I wrote a whole lot of the sketches on the TV present together with the comedy writers. I’ve written a few films, scripts for movie. I had fun making That is My Boy with Adam Sandler. I had fun making that film with Adam.”

“So, I would wish to unfold my wings extra within the writing aspect of my expertise – which I’ve not paid as a lot consideration to, as a result of it actually conjures up me and excites me after I end a bit of product. Whether or not or not it’s a e book, a novel, a play, a Broadway present, or a music. And that is the place I wish to spend my time.”

For more information, go to Tony’s official web site.


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