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Randy and the Rainbows Biography

In 1962 Mike Zero and his brother Sal emigrated from the Borough of Brooklyn, NY to Maspeth Queens. Both were lovers of music and especially the vocal group sound and soon found themselves forming a group with 3 other friends in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, Neil Levenson, a classically trained pianist and fledgling songwriter was beginning his career as a writer of popular songs. A chance meeting and songwriting lesson with Paul Anka at a Catskill Mountain resort gave Neil all the inspiration he needed. He wrote a song called “Pretty Girl”, and after meeting a girl at the beach named Denise LeFrak, Neil changed the song title to her name.

He then met The Tokens, recording stars in their own right, who were also producing commercial jingles and records for other artists. Neil told them he had a great song and the Tokens urged him to find a group to do it. Mutual friends put Neil in touch with a group they knew of in Maspeth, and the journey began. He took Mike and his group to The Tokens, where they re-arranged the song and ultimately recorded the group at Allegro Sound Studios, in NYC. The Tokens took the master to Laurie Records who changed the group’s name from The Encores to Randy & The Rainbows and released the song on their Rust Records label around the spring of 1963. While the record did not chart immediately, Eddie Matthews, a promotion man who strongly believed in the song, pulled out all the stops to let the world know about “Denise”. By the summer, “Denise” was a national top 10 hit and the group began working and touring with great acts like The Four Seasons, Dionne Warwick, The Beach Boys, The Drifters, Stevie Wonder, Gene Pitney, The Searchers, The Miracles and so many more.

Randy And the Rainbows Biography
Randy And the Rainbows Biography

In the fall of 1963, with the group riding high and their follow-up record “Why Do Kids Grow” up showing much promise in it’s first weeks of release, things were abruptly halted. President Kennedy’s assassination placed a pall over the country, and the music business was no exception. Radio playlists were suspended and records consequently died a sudden death. But there was other news on the horizon. Rumblings from overseas told of a group from England who would soon be heard from and change the course of music forever.

While the Beatles made their mark in the US in early 1964, many groups including Randy & The Rainbows continued their recording careers. Around this time, they met Vinny Carella and his group at a Rock & Roll show and became immediate friends and associates. Vinny and his group signed with Neil Levenson and Vinny subsequently replaced Sal Zero in the Rainbows when Sal retired. The group continued to work and hone their entertaining skills, which served them well through the years. They never abandoned their desire to record and through many musical revolutions were always competitive.

From 1977 through 1980 they recorded as the group, Madison Street, making their mark on the Adult Contemporary Charts with the songs “Minstrel Man” and “A Simple Love Song”, both written by Neil Levenson. Their disco record, “Hey Look Who’s Dancin” recorded for MCA , was well received by critics and in the clubs. In 1982 and 1985 they recorded concept albums for CBS and Rounder which spawned a PBS special featuring the group. In 1988 they began their association with Jimmy “The Wiz” Wisner that continues to this day. Randy & The Rainbows and their band are regarded as one of the most versatile and polished acts performing today and have been co-billed with The Spinners, Blood, Sweat & Tears, The Grass Roots, Gary Puckett and The Mamas and The Papas. They have performed at Presidential Inaugural Balls, on cruise ships, in concert and in casinos as well as black tie and corporate events. In the fall of 2007 the group scored on the FMQB Adult Contemporary Charts with the Four Seasons tribute, “The Boys From Queens Salute the Jersey Boys” which peaked at #25 for 9 weeks. It has also opened the door for an upcoming CD being produced by Jimmy “the Wiz” Wisner.  In June 2007, “Denise” was prominently featured in the final episode of the HBO series, “The Sopranos”.

The group continues to be a force in the new millennium, whether it be on stage or in the recording studio.

Mike Zero

Mike Zero
Mike Zero

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Maspeth Queens, Mike had an affinity for music at an early age. At P.S. 73 he entered a talent competition and won performing his version of “I’ve Had It”. By early teens he was singing in local groups with his brother Sal and by a twist of fate they met songwriter Neil Levinson who in turn knew the Tokens who were doing as well as record producers as they were as a performing group. Neil’s song “Denise” was recorded, Laurie Records christened the group Randy & the Rainbows and the rest is history. Mike has been a steady influence in the group all these years and maintains a youthful exuberance and charismatic stage presence.

Vinny Carella

Vinny was born in New York City and raised in Queens, New York. He also got his start in music at an early age in high school performing in stage shows like “The Mikado” and “HMS Pinafore” while forming his first group, “Vinny and the Exclusives”. It was a neighborhood rock & Roll show in February 1964 that Vinny was co-billed with Randy & the Rainbows.

Within a few weeks, Vinny’s group was signed with Neil Levinson and his involvement with Randy & the Rainbows began. When Mike Zero’s brother Sal retired from the group, Vinny became his replacement. As a result of his relationship with Neil Levinson, Jimmy Wisner, Jimmy Ienner and many other recording industry giants, Randy & the Rainbows have been able to continue their recording career into the new millennium.

Vinny is also an actor and appeared in the cast of the movie “HAIR”, in commercials for Pontiac, and recently on the television show “Law & Order”.

Jack Vitale

Born and raised in Brooklyn New York, Jack is a music business veteran having fronted his own groups since the early 60’s.  He has worked at NY hotspots such as The Peppermint Lounge, Wagon Wheels, The Metropole, Ondines, the Rainbow Room, the St. Regis and Waldorf Hotels and has toured all over the country working with acts like the 4 Seasons, Chiffons, Capitols, Dovells and many others.  Jack’s ability as a front man has made him very popular on the Long Island circuit and a welcome addition to Randy & the Rainbows.