Almost Famous Rock and Roll Artists
Main MenuConcept Refinement The Author..Wayne JancikGolden Age Of The 50sGolden Age Of The 60s1970s and There After
“CONEY ISLAND BABY:
They were three students from Christopher Columbus High School; three from DeWitt Clinton High School.
Bronx, New York schools. Their sound was excellent, possibly ah ha, that’s where the name came from.
Peers pushed and the Excellents knocked on doors with a demo. Vinny Catalano at Sinclair Records had
them record an Al Jolson tune from 1931, “Red Red Robin.” It was issued on Sinclair’s subsidiary label,
It was 1961 and the East Coast loved it. Months later they recorded a remake of the Cleftones’ “You Baby
You” and and original “Coney Island Baby.” It would be their finest, a classic and their last session. Two
45s and was to be all over, though the six knew it not. All was looking well. Dick Clark like one of the tunes.
Clark liked the “B” side and invited the boys to appear on his “American Bandstand.” The teens were
eagar, but the label’s representatives told them that they would have to gather the finances to get their butts
to Philadelphia for the show. The record company would not pay even a smudge. When the six-some told
the label they had no money and they were burned out from local appearances, the brains at
Sinclair/Blast/Mermaid sent another gathering of young males, as the Excellents to “American
Like why? If you’re gonna pay for a fake Excellents, why not pay for the real thing to hawk the company’s
wares? “Coney Island Baby” scored a nationwide top 50; not bad, though not quite a nationwide notable.
A follow-up single was needed. With bad vibes between the group and the label, Sinclair had another
group carry on as the Excellents. Those recordings (by The Ultimates in masquarade) were quite good,
We will never know what the Excellents might have given us. All we have is that initial single, “Coney
Island Baby,” and, in 1964, some scraps the group recorded at that “Coney Island” session being issued as a
45 by Bobby Records.