Top 10 Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge Songs

Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge Songs

The top 10 Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge songs wouldn’t be complete without the mention of “Worst That Could Happen.” Even though these New Yorkers were often deemed as one-hit wonders, there was more to these talents than one big hit that swept across the nation as a phenom. While none of their studio albums seemed to make much of an impression, their live musical performances did. Including “Worst That Could Happen,” Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge produced a total of six hits between 1968 and 1970.

Building Bridges

Born on May 7, 1939, John Mastrangelo started his musical career as a lead singer for The Crests. From 1957 until 1968, the group enjoyed a successful run as recording artists that included a string of hits such as “16 Candles,” “Step by Step,” and “Trouble in Paradise.” Along the way, Mastrangelo underwent a series of minor stage name changes before finally settling on Johnny Maestro. After his run was done with The Crests, he sought to make a name for himself as a solo artist. While he was doing so, there was a New York-based group known as The Del-Satins.

They became a popular figure on The Clay Cole Show, a local dance party program that performed a series of recorded songs from 1959 until 1967. After losing Stan Zizka as their lead singer, the crew of The Del-Satins was on the hunt to find a suitable replacement. When they met Maestro, they offered him to team up with him but it was an invite he turned down, at least at first.

Maestro’s manager at the time, Betty Sperber, hosted a monthly Battle of the Bands talent search contest at a Long Island-based nightclub known as Cloud Nine. On one fateful evening in 1968, she brought Maestro to the club and had him perform as a guest star. He was backed by a group known as The Rhythm Method. What turned out to be a successful evening led to combining the talent pool of Maestro, the Del-Satins, and The Rhythm Method into one entity.

In response to some criticism issued by the general manager of Sperber’s Action Talents, Alan White, Sperber had the eleven-man group named The Brooklyn Bridge. Together, Johnny Maestro and The Brooklyn Bridge worked out a combination of harmonies and horns before signing up with Buddah Records. The first song released by the group as a single was “Worst That Could Happen.” Already previously recorded by The 5th Dimension, it became a big hit for the group that would win over a fan base nationally and internationally.

After surpassing one million copies sold, the single became certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. By 1972, Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge became household names after selling over ten million records and making appearances on popular programs such as The Della Reese Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.

While The Brooklyn Bridge was at the height of its career, the roster shrunk from eleven men to five. Each of the vocalists in the group had his own musical instrument, including Maestro. He played the rhythm guitar while Jim Rosica played bass. Going into 1985, the group would expand its lineup to eight. Since its start in 1968, the band has been identified as The Brooklyn Bridge, Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bride, and The Bridge. Over the course of time, the group has recorded and released eleven studio albums, seven compilation albums, and a live album. In 2005, The Brooklyn Bridge was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. This was followed by the 2006 induction into the South Carolina Music R&B Hall of Fame and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

Rocking the Bridge

Although Johnny Maestro is no more after passing away from cancer on March 24, 2010, his legacy continues through new and surviving members of The Brooklyn Bridge. His death was followed by another legend from the group, Fred Ferrera who passed away due to cardiac failure on October 21, 2011. Their deaths prompted one of the original members of The Brooklyn Bridge to return. Joe Ruvio came back, along with a new lead singer, Roy Michaels. However, as of 2013, Michaels was replaced by Joe Esposito of Brooklyn Dreams fame. In 2020, The Brooklyn Bridge was rocked again with the sudden death of Les Cauchi on March 3, 2020. Like Maestro and Ferrera before him, he was part of the original lineup when the group got its start in 1968.

Before their passing, all three men bore witness to the horrific terrorist attacks that took place in New York City on September 11, 2001. In a strange twist of events, Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge’s most popular song, “Worst That Could Happen” became a subject for debate. After the attacks, this song was on the “inappropriate” radar after Clear Channel Communications felt it was no longer appropriate to play it on the radio stations they owned in the United States.

As far as its memorandum was concerned, the lyrics were deemed too “questionable” to play and it was suggested to stop playing it on their stations. “Worst That Could Happen” was one of 165 songs on a list that was provided after the terrorist attacks in 2001 took place. Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge were among many recording artists whose musical material was deemed too “joyful.” All this came about after the complaint of one listener over a Clear Channel-owned radio station played “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang.” Thankfully, not everybody agreed with that one listener as the majority of the fans wanted to listen to music to lift their spirits up instead of dragging them down.

Top 10 Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge Songs

#10 – Inside Out (Upside Down)

Written by Jimmy Rosica and Shelly Davis, “Inside Out (Upside Down)” was a song he recorded with his bandmates, Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge. This became one of nine songs belonging to the 1969 album, The Second Brooklyn Bridge. While the album failed to gain much momentum among the critics and fans, there was no denying the musicians in the band had talent. Opening up as a jazzy number with rhythm and soul, “Inside Out” was a song that shifted away from the doo-wop style that initially made the group popular to begin with. The lyrics shared the topsy-turvy reality that comes with everyday living and romance in a world that often seemed to be flipped upside down itself.

#9 – 16 Candles

Originally, “16 Candles” was recorded and released by The Crests in 1958 and it became a huge hit as it peaked as high as number two on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also became a number four hit on what’s referenced now as the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart. This song was written by Luthor Dixon and Allyson Kent, and then recorded by Maestro and his bandmates while he was still with The Crests at the time. As Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge, “16 Candles” became a big part of its musical act over the years. It still remains a staple favorite today as the new Brooklyn Bridge lineup continues to take its audience back in time as they cover this, plus several other iconic classics that made the era of 1950s and 1960s rock music so great.

#8 – Day Is Done

“Day Is Done” was a single by Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge released in 1970. It was the final song performed by the group that would become a hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 after charting as high as number ninety-six. Written by Peter Yarrow, this classic was originally recorded and released in 1969 by his group, Peter, Paul and Mary. It was an anti-protest song against the Vietnam War, which peaked at number twenty-one on the US Billboard Hot 100. The performance by Maestro and his crew was just as dramatic and harmonic as the original but with an R&B flair that made the sound of “Day Is Done” their own.

#7 – Christmas Serenade

1989’s “Christmas Serenade” was a song that was recorded and released by Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge from their EP, Christmas Is… This festive tune stood out as a favorite among fans, even though it wasn’t officially released as a single. It was written by Ira and Mitch Yuspeh, then first recorded for by Maestro and his crew before The Doo Wop Project covered it as “Christmas in the City” in 2018. “Christmas Serenade” became a festive favorite as Maestro made his observations about what makes the Christmas season so great.

#6 – Down By the River

Released in 1970 as a single, “Down By the River” was a minor hit for Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge charting as high as number ninety-one on the US Billboard Hot 100. It was their cover version of the 1969 Neil Young and Crazy Horse classic that came from the album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. While there is no comparison to Neil Young, the performance laid out by the New York-based group was no slouch, either. Where Neil Young rocked it as a folksy number, Maestro did so with an R&B flair.

#5 – Blessed Is the Rain

“Blessed Is the Rain” was released by Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge as a single in 1969. It was on the A-side of the same record that featured “Welcome Me Love” on its B-side. It was a modest hit at number forty-eight on the US Billboard Hot 100 and at number forty-five on the Canadian Top Singles Chart. This song, as well as “Welcome Me Love,” was written by Tony Romeo, the same songwriter behind the 1970 iconic hit, “I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family. This beautiful song had Maestro at his vocal best while The Brooklyn Bridge roster performed “Blessed Is the Rain” almost like a biblical experience with a wonderful dose of rhythm and soul.

#4 – Welcome Me Love

“Welcome Me Love” was a song released by Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge in 1969 on the B-side of a record that featured another hit, “Blessed Is the Rain.” On the US Billboard Hot 100, it became a number forty-eight, just like its predecessor did. On the Canadian Top Singles Chart, it peaked even higher at number thirty-eight. This came about as “Blessed Is the Rain” was on the way out and “Welcome Me Love” was on the way in on both of the nation’s official music charts. This catchy classic featured Maestro focusing on his love interest, hoping she would welcome him with open arms in an effort to cure their mutual loneliness. While this may not have been a top hit on the music charts, it did become a fan favorite that became more popular over time, especially when performed live.

#3 – Your Husband, My Wife

When “Your Husband, My Wife” was first released as a single in 1969, the lyrics were met with controversy. This song revolved around infidelity during an era when such an act was heavily frowned upon by the general populous of society at the time. Regardless, it was popular enough to become a number forty-six hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as hold its own as a classic that has stood the test of time.

Fans of good doo-wop style music simply enjoyed how well Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge performed together in perfect harmony. Although extramarital affairs were extremely taboo to talk about at the time, it didn’t change the fact that they still happened. “Your Husband, My Wife” was an incredible love song about two people who desperately wanted to be together but not at the expense of hurting their respective spouses in the process.

#2 – You’ll Never Walk Alone

“You’ll Never Walk Alone” peaked as high as number fifty-one on the US Billboard Hot 100 when it was released by Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge as a single in 1969. This was a 1945 original, performed as a show tune for the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel.

The song was first performed as an act of encouragement in the movie after the lead character was dying in the arms of his wife. It was later performed in a moving scene that featured the couple’s daughter graduating from school. It didn’t take long for “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to become a cult classic as it became an unofficial anthem for emergency workers, medical staff, and sports teams. This song was also covered by a multitude of artists. Either with a gospel-like approach or as a gentle easy-listening pop tune, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” remains one of the music industry’s all-time classics.

#1 – Worst That Could Happen

“Worst That Could Happen” was a song written by Jimmy Webb, then recorded in 1967 by The 5th Dimension. The Magic Garden was an album that mostly featured songs written by Webb. In 1969, Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge would have a covered version that would peak as high as number three on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song was about a man having to contend with the heartache of losing a woman he loved because he chose not to build a life with her in the form of marriage.

In what he felt was the “Worst That Could Happen” to him, she left him to marry someone who was willing to give her what she wanted. The song stood out for its quote from the “Wedding March” by Felix Mendelssohn, as well as the Shakespearean comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In Canada, “Worst That Could Happen” became a number-one hit on its Canadian Top Singles Chart. It was also popular in New Zealand as it peaked as high as number sixteen on its official music chart. After selling over one million copies, “Worst That Could Happen” also became an RIAA-certified gold seller.

Feature Photo: Peter Potter, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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