Halfway to Paradise

Album: Bless You (1961)
Charted: 39

Songfacts®:

  • Tony Orlando's very first charting hit, "Halfway to Paradise" barely squeaked into the Top 40. It was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, who were Brill Building talent then working for Aldon Music.

    It was a tailor-made hit for Orlando. His birth name was Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis. When Aldon Music took him in (Orlando was just 15 years old at the time, but very determined to get into the music business), Don Kirshner, Jack Keller, King, and Goffin practically adopted him like they would a stray kitten, ushering him to their studio or one of their apartments while grooming him as the next chart-topping singer. Simplifying his name was their idea, too.

    In Rich Podolsky's book Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Ear, Orlando recalls: "My father was Greek, which gave me the courage to knock on doors. For two years, I knocked on almost every door of every floor of the Brill Building and 1650 Broadway, hoping to get discovered, without an ounce of encouragement from anyone."

    Orlando's stock audition song was "La Bamba." Ritchie Valens was also a hero and inspiration to Orlando as a child, so while he was saddened to hear of the infamous plane crash that took the life of Valens, Buddy Holly, and the Big Bopper, he was motivated to follow in Valens' career path.
  • Orlando originally balked at having this be his debut song. Instead he wanted, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow." He was disappointed when they sold it to The Shirelles, but Kirshner convinced him that it wouldn't do for a male vocal anyway.
  • Epic Records, themselves newly formed, built up Orlando's debut by taking out ads in Cashbox, Variety, and Billboard magazines with the text "On March 21st Epic will introduce a name you will always remember, a voice you will never forget: Tony Orlando." and a silhouette of Orlando. Only after the album's release was the ad run again with the silhouette filled in.

    As if that weren't publicity enough, Orlando also appeared on the day of the album's debut on American Bandstand with the late (and much-missed) Dick Clark. During commercial break, Clark passed Orlando a note which read: "Your drug store is open." Orlando had to have it explained to him that that meant his zipper was unzipped - on live TV!
  • After three top 40 hits, Orlando retired from performing and worked in music publishing before being asked to sing lead with Dawn on "Candida." The song became an international hit and the trio subsequently racked up 14 top 40 entries in total including the #1 singles "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree," "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)" and "Knock Three Times." The group also had their own TV show from 1974 to 1976. Orlando resumed his solo career in 1977.
  • Billy Fury recorded the hit version in the UK taking it to #3 on the singles chart. It was one of 11 top 10 hits for the British singer, who died of heart failure in 1983 aged just 42.

Comments: 4

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 29, 1961, Tony Orlando was a guest on the Dick Clark ABC-TV network weekday-afternoon program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time his song "Halfway to Paradise" was at #40 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; the following week it would peak at #39 {for 1 week} and it spent 8 weeks on the Top 100...
    He had three other Top 100 records; "Bless You" {#15 in 1961}, "Happy Times (Are Here To Stay)" {#82 in 1961}, and "Sweets For My Sweets" {#54 in 1979}...
    As a member of the studio group Wind, he charted with "Make Believe" at #28 in 1969...
    And as a member of the trio, Dawn, between 1970 to 1977 they had twenty Top 100 records; with six making the Top 10 and three peaking at #1, "Knock Three Times" for 3 weeks in 1971, "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" for 4 weeks in 1973, and "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)" for 3 weeks in 1975.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 14th 1968, Bobby Vinton's covered version of "Halfway To Paradise" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #65; and on August 18th, 1968 it peaked at #23 (for 1 week) and spent 7 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #8 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 1st 1961, Tony Orlando performed "Halfway to Paradise" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    About five weeks earlier on April 25th , 1961 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #96; and on June 5th it peaked at #39 (for 1 week) and spent 8 weeks on the Top 100...
    His next release, "Bless You", stayed 12 weeks on the Top 100, peaking at #15 (for 1 week) on October 9th, 1961...
    Mr. Orlando, born Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis, celebrated his 70th birthday two months ago on April 3rd, 1944.
  • Zabadak from London, EnglandA big hit in the UK for Billy Fury.
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