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Joey Dee and the Starliters (also credited as Joey Dee and the Starlighters) is an American popular music group. Best known for their successful million-selling recording "Peppermint Twist" (1961), the group was initiated by Joey Dee.



  • 1 Early singles
  • 2 The 1960s
  • 3 Later history
  • 4 Members
  • 5 Discography
    • 5.1 Singles
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Early singles[edit][]

With lead singer Rogers Freeman, Joey Dee and the Starliters' first single was "Lorraine," backed with "The Girl I Walk To School," in 1958, distributed by the company Little. That same year, Joey Dee recruitedDavid Brigati for the team after meeting him during a gig at Garfield High School in New Jersey. David and Joey would subsequently share lead vocal honors for the Starliters, with Joey ultimately becoming the primary lead singer. Another early single for the group was "Face of an Angel," with David as lead vocal, released on Scepter Records; the flipside was "Shimmy Baby." An album entitled The Peppermint Twistersand credited to "Joey Dee and the Starlighters" was subsequently released by the company Scepter as well.

Various members of the Starliters, such as vocalist Freeman and drummer Don Martin, came and went during the next few years; the most famous lineup of Joey Dee and the Starliters is considered to be Joey Dee, David Brigati, Larry Vernieri (vocals), Carlton Lattimore (organ), Sam Taylor (guitar) and Willie Davis (drums). Later members of the touring group would include Eddie Brigati (David's brother), Gene Cornish, andFelix Cavaliere - three-quarters of the Young Rascals - as well as guitarist Jimmy James (later known as Jimi Hendrix), Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers and a young Joe Pesci on guitar.

The 1960s[edit][]

In 1960, the Starliters were noticed by agent Don Davis while performing at a Lodi, New Jersey nightclub called Oliveri's. The group was booked at an intimate venue on 45th Street in New York City called thePeppermint Lounge for what was supposed to be a one-time weekend gig. During their initial appearance at the nightclub, actress Merle Oberon and Prince Serge Oblinski were dancing much of the night there. This being related in print the next morning by columnists Earl Wilson and Cholly Knickerbocker, it took barricades and mounted police to keep the crowds in line, which had backed to Broadway, the next night. For several months, the craze would continue at the Lounge. Celebrity visitors continued to come and included Judy Garland, John Wayne, Jackie Kennedy, Nat "King" Cole, Shirley MacLaine, Tennessee Williams,Truman Capote, and Liberace. Dee and company made such a sensation that they became the house band for the Peppermint Lounge, remaining for more than a year. Dee wrote "Peppermint Twist," along with producer Henry Glover, as a tribute to the lounge and the song scored #1 on the U.S. charts in early 1962. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.[1] By this time the team had contracted withRoulette Records.

One night in 1961 a trio of pretty teenagers were waiting on line outside the nightclub hoping to be allowed inside. Dressed in matching brightly colored dresses, they looked like professional entertainers (which in fact they were) and in a case of mistaken identity, thinking they were the dancers he'd hired, the manager of the Peppermint Lounge ushered the girls – Ronnie and Estelle Bennett and their cousin, Nedra Talley – up to the stage and told them to dance. The Ronettes spent the rest of that night dancing and singing along with Joey Dee and the Starliters, and the reaction from the group and the crowd was so positive that the nightclub manager, having realized his error, offered the girls a job. Every night, The Ronettes would dance and perform along with The Starliters at the Peppermint Lounge, even traveling with them to the nightclub's Miami, Florida, location in early 1962.[citation needed]

Also in 1961 Joey Dee and the Starliters filmed the movie Hey, Let's Twist, starring Jo Ann Campbell and Teddy Randazzo, for Paramount Pictures. Hey, Let's Twist was a fictional story of Joey Dee (Randazzo and Dino DiLuca played the parts of Joey's brother and father, respectively) and the Peppermint Lounge; its release capitalized on the current twist craze and made the once-obscure Lounge famous. The movie and soundtrack album did their part in making the Peppermint Lounge a world-famous venue. Successful singles spawned from Hey, Let's Twist were the title track and "Shout - Part I," which became the group's second-biggest selling record, reaching #6 on the U.S. charts. It also sold a million copies, giving the group their second gold disc.[2] Other albums released during this time were Doin' The Twist at the Peppermint Lounge, which was recorded live at the venue, and All The World's Twistin' With Joey Dee & the Starliters.

In 1962 Joey Dee and The Starliters starred in their second motion picture, Two Tickets to Paris, along with Gary Crosby, Jeri Lynne Fraser and Kay Medford. One of the songs from this film, "What Kind Of Love Is This," written by Johnny Nash, was released in September of that year and scored Top Twenty. In December 1962, the original Starliters did their final recording session as a group, producing "Help Me Pick Up the Pieces," also composed by Nash, and "Baby, You're Driving Me Crazy," written by Joey Dee and Henry Glover. In 1963, Joey Dee recorded an album entitled Dance, Dance, Dance, with The Ronettes as his backup group. During spring of that year, Roulette released the track "Hot Pastrami with Mashed Potatoes", from the previously issued live album, as a two-part single; the record made the U.S. Top Forty. Roulette later released "Ya Ya" and "Fannie Mae" from the same album. During October and November 1963, the Starliters toured Europe, performing one extraordinary night in Stockholm with the Beatles (already the biggest band in Northern Europe) as their opening act. In 1964 Joey Dee toured with various Starliters including Cornish, Cavaliere, and Eddie Brigati.

Later history[edit][]

Dee continued to record and issue solo recordings from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, as well a song he wrote with original Starliters David Brigati and Larry Vernieri entitled "How Can I Forget" in the late 1960s which was released under the name Joey Dee and The New Starliters. He continued to travel and make personal appearances with various Starliters.

In 2001, the group was featured on a PBS special, Rock, Rhythm and Doo-Wop, and in 2005 they appeared on the Jerry Lewis telethon for muscular dystrophy.

As of 2009 Joey Dee and the Starliters consists of Dee sometimes performing with Bob Valli (brother of Frankie Valli) and original Starliter David Brigati and at other times with the original Soul Survivors Charlie and Richie Ingui, with the three singers taking the lead and performing their own hits as well as covers. Joey's son Ronnie DiNicola often plays saxophone and sings backup vocals for his father. Ronnie's band Dee Force served as the Starlighters in the nineties which also included Manfredo Fest's son Phil Fest on guitar.

On Sunday September 19, 2010, a street corner was dedicated to the band in their home town of Passaic, New Jersey. The street signing took place on the corner of Washington Place and Columbia Ave.


  • Joey Dee – vocals (born Joseph DiNicola, June 11, 1940, Passaic, New Jersey)[1]
  • David Brigati – vocals (born October 29, 1940, Garfield, New Jersey)
  • Larry Vernieri – vocals (born 1941, Newark; died December 7, 1999)
  • Carlton Lattimore – organ (born c. 1941, Passaic)
  • Willie Davis – drums (born c. 1940, Passaic)



Year A-side/B-side

Both sides from same album except where indicated

Label & number U.S. Charts Album
Billboard Cashbox
1960 "Shimmy Baby"

b/w "Face Of An Angel"

Scepter 1210 - - The Peppermint Twisters
1961 "These Memories"

b/w "(Bad) Bulldog"

Scepter 1225 - -
"Peppermint Twist - Part I"

b/w "Part II"

Roulette 4401 1 2 Doin' The Twist At The Peppermint Lounge
1962 "Hey, Let's Twist" /

"Roly Poly"

Roulette 4408 20




Hey, Let's Twist! (Soundtrack)
"Shout - Part I"

b/w "Part II"

Roulette 4416 6 9 Doin' The Twist At The Peppermint Lounge
"Everytime (I Think About You) - Part One"

b/w "Part Two"

Roulette 4431 105 80 Two Tickets To Paris (Soundtrack)
"What Kind Of Love Is This"

b/w "Wing Ding" (from All The World Is Twistin'!)

Roulette 4438 18 17
"I Lost My Baby"

b/w "Keep Your Mind On What You're Doin'"

Roulette 4456 61 61 Joey Dee
1963 "The Girl I Walk To School"

b/w "Lorraine"

Bonus 7009 - - Non-album tracks
"Baby, You're Driving Me Crazy"

b/w "Help Me Pick Up The Pieces"

Roulette 4467 100 -
"Hot Pastrami With Mashed Potatoes - Part I"

b/w "Part II"

Roulette 4488 36 40
"Dance, Dance, Dance"

b/w "Let's Have A Party"

Roulette 4503 89 90 Dance, Dance, Dance
"Ya Ya"

b/w "Fanny May"

Roulette 4525 - - Doin' The Twist At The Peppermint Lounge
"Getting Nearer"

b/w "Down By The Riveside"

Roulette 4539 - - Non-album tracks
1965 "Cry A Little Sometime"

b/w "Wing Ding" (from All The World Is Twistin'!)

Roulette 4617 - -
1966 "Feel Good About It - Part I"

b/w "Part II"

Jubilee 5532 - - Hitsville!
"Dancing On The Beach"

b/w "Good Little You"

Jubilee 5539 - - Non-album tracks
"It's Got You"

b/w "She's So Exceptional" (Non-album track)

Jubilee 5554 - - Hitsville!
1967 "Can't Sit Down"

b/w "Put Your Heart In It"

Jubilee 5566 - - Non-album tracks
"How Can I Forget"

b/w "How Can I Forget" (Instrumental)

Caneil 100 - -
1970 "Roses and Candy Kisses"

B-side unknown

Tonsil 0003 - -