#800: Your Own Back Yard by Dion
Dion Francis DiMucci was born in the Bronx, NY, in 1939. His parents named him Dion in honor of the French Canadian Dionne quintuplents who captured the interest of millions around the world after the five infants were born in May 1934. Dion’s dad, Pasquale DiMucci, was a vaudeville performer and Dion accompanied him to see his dad on stage. As a child he was given an $8 dollar guitar by his uncle while he lived on 183rd Street. Dion’s childhood was set in the midst of conflict between his parents. In an interview with New York Magazine in 2007, Dion remembers “…There was a lot of unresolved conflict in my house… My pop, Pasquale, couldn’t make the $36-a-month rent on our apartment at 183rd and Crotona Avenue.” He was a dreamer, a failed vaudevillian, and sometimes Catskills puppeteer. He’d talk big and lift weights he’d made from oilcans, while Frances, Mrs. DiMucci, took two buses and the subway downtown to work in the garment district on a sewing machine. “When they’d start yelling, I’d go out on the stoop with my $8 Gibson and try to resolve things that way.” Dion began singing in Bronx bars at 13, doing a Hank Williams nasal twang imitation fused with street-corner aesthetic. As a teenager growing up in the Bronx, Dion DiMucci began singing on street corners at the age of 13. When he was 14, in 1955, he started hanging out at the Apollo Theatre on 125th Street in Harlem. It was there he’d hear group like the Cleftones singing “Little Girl Of Mine” and the Cadillacs singing “Speedoo“. From these black doo-wop groups Dion got some ideas for making harmony and choreography moves.