The “Golden Hits Of Th60s” 

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(AI Striano, Joe Luccisano, AI Gentile)

Old Town 1094

No. 3    February 27, 1961


“I had just started to learn harmony,” Mike Mincelli, first tenor (b. 1941) told Record Exchanger’s Art

Turco and  Bob Galgano.  “I went over to a friend’s house [that of John Cassese, bass (b. 1941)] one day.

There was a song out then called ‘Bermuda Shorts’ by the Del Roys.   I wanted this guy to sing the bass

part and he couldn’t do it.   Finally, he got it down and I decided we would keep him. The other guys

were picked up one by one.  It took over a year.”


By 1958, all the pieces had  fallen in place–the line-up  was complete  with Mincelli, Cassessa, second

tenor Vinnie Narcardo (b.’194 ‘1 ), baritone Frank Reina (b. 1 940),  and lead singer Nick Santo (b. Nick

Santa Maria, 1941).   All were from the Ozone Park section of Queens, and in a shot at class, they named

themselves after the large Lincoln Capri.  Their big break came when some  independent producers

dropped by to hear the guys rehearsing.  “There’s A Moon Out Tonight” was recorded at the Bell Tone

Studios and finished in an hour.  “We did [“Moon”] in three takes and they took the first one, it came

out the best.”


“There’s A Moon Out Tonight”   has a strange ending, technically known as a voice overlay: each Capri

chants the tune’s title  in turn, but slows it down a little each time.  After nearly three decades, this is

still one of the  most memorable endings in rock history.  “I   don’t think it was intentional,” Mincelli

recalled.   “It was one  of  the mistakes–there  were a  lot of mistakes on that record.”


Planet Records picked up the rights to the release, but the disk bombed.  By 1959,the Capris were no

more.  Mike  married, Nick joined  the Army, and the others went their separate ways.  What happened

next was pure serendipity.  In 1961, the owners of the Lost Nite label record bought the “Moon” master

for  a two hundred dollars and reissued it on red vinyl on their newly constructed Lost Nite label.

Murry the K, a big-time Big Apple jock, began riding the record like it had a satin saddle.  Within six

months, “There’s A Moon Out Tonight” was such a smash that Lost Nite could no longer  handle

distribution, so Old  Town Records  provided the platter with national availability.


Although “There’s A Moon Out Tonight” has yet to be certified as a million-seller, the Capris’ musical

monster still sells worldwide.  Playing down the sales figures, each member was offered $265 in

royalties.  The band regrouped to tour and record four more singles, three of which charted:  “Where  I

Fell In Love” (#74, 1 961 ), “Girl In My  Dreams” (#92,1961), and  their  last waxing, “Limbo” (#99,

1962), an up-tempo attempt for Mr. Peeke Records.


The Capris split up again in 1962.  There have been various  reunions over the  years.  In 1982, Mincelli,

Reina, and Santo Frank reunited with Tommy Ferrara (formerly of  the Del Satins) and Tony Danno

(formerly of the Emotions) to record There’s A Moon Out Again, an excellent ’80s doo-wop  treat for

the Ambient Sound label.


That year, the Columbia subsidiary issued “Morse Code Of Love,” the Capris first 45 in 20 years. In

1985, the Manhattan Transfer charted with the tune, retitled “Baby Come Back To Me” (#83, 1985).


The Capris continue to perform on the sidelines. Frank works as a traffic controller at Kennedy

Airport.  As for the others:  John fronts a hair piece firm.  Mike drives a school bus; Nick’s retired

and Vinnie  moves furniture.