saturday spirit

Johnny Maestro’s final performance was captured on an out-of-focus video at a show in Connecticut on Jan. 17, 2010. After a 53-year career as lead tenor who led two groups to Top Ten hits, he would be dead of kidney cancer nine weeks later on March 24 at age 70.

Even though Maestro, born Johnny Mastrangelo, was frail, a bit jaundiced and was concealing under his double-breasted blazer a sling for his arm with torn ligaments, he didn’t miss a note. The show was supposed to close when he and the Brooklyn Bridge performed their big hit “The Worst That Could Happen.”

However, Maestro requested to do one more song — his one-of-kind version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein standard “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” The song was especially poignant, beginning, “When you walk through a storm, Hold your head up high, And don’t be afraid of the dark.” Despite his illness, Maestro soared through the song with the same voice that had been thrilling audiences in the late 1950s when he sang “Sixteen Candles” and “Step by Step” with the Crests, one of the first integrated musical groups.

Although he was a doo-wop and rock ‘n’ roll legend, Maestro was a quiet man off-stage who would go out of his way for his fans. “All he ever wanted was to sing and to be with his family. Singing was what made him happy,” his brother Ron Mastrangelo recalled.

His singing is also what made Maestro’s fans happy. Another singing legend, Dion DiMucci, said on his Facebook page, “Johnny was a class act. He was truly a gentleman. He sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ like an angel.”

The final song ended with Oscar Hammerstein II’s lyrics, “Walk on, walk on, With hope in your heart, And you’ll never walk alone. You’ll never walk alone.” Maestro sang those fitting words for his family, his fans and himself. He walked with God, who had given Maestro an angelic voice. God had also given the singer light in the dark, hope in fear and faith in eternity.


God has given us all reason to sing.

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