Oldies Tribute to...
born Donald Rondeau
January 5, 1930 – January 27, 2011
(from an original Jubilee Records biography)
The first audience Don Rondo ever sang for, was three hundred Holstein cows and two feed men, who were members of the Ware, Massachusetts, Lions Club.
It was one week before Christmas and Don Rondo was feeding the cattle on his Dad's farm, which was a dairy farm in Palmer, Massachusetts. While he was doing his chores, he stopped for a few minutes, and using a pitchfork for a mike he started to sing "White Christmas". While he was singing the two salesmen heard him and entered his name in their Lions Club talent show. This was Don's first public appearance.
One of the many and funny things in Don's life was; after working a full day on the huge farm (1800 acres), he would saddle his horse, ride to the river, tie his horse to a tree, then row across to the airfield to take off for a little practice flying, Don tells the story of, once in the air, he thought of himself as a great fighter pilot and he would fly over the farm real low where the cattle would be grazing, pretending they were the enemy. Cattle by nature, being frightened by aircraft, would scatter in many directions. The second time it happened his Dad got the number of the plane and called the airport, only to find that it was his own son. That was the end of Don's flying career.
After singing around for more years than Don would like to recall, and then going to New York City every Monday to see and watch the big names at the Paramount Theater, he auditioned for Jubilee Records. They said, "we will record you on Wednesday", but, this was a big "but", "you will have to pay for the session”. As though he were a millionaire, Don, without batting an eye asked, “how much"?, they said "$2,000.00". Don said, “You’ve got a date". He borrowed the money from his brother-in-law, who was a plumber, whom Don also worked for after he was married to a beautiful girl, named Ida Mae. With his newly acquired fame and wealth, Don bought a farm of his own in Bethel, Connecticut, where he bred Black Angus cattle. His farm was a little far from New York City he admits, but for Ron, Deb and Gary, his three children, it was a great life and the only way to bring up kids.
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Don was born in Ware, MA. Don's hobbies were probably the most unglamorous that a personality could have. He loved to play football with his kids, including Debbie, and ride his horses with his friends and wife. Don also liked to watch football games. He played High School and Semi-Pro ball for four years. He was always in great shape, and upon being introduced to Sonny Werblin (owner of the New York Jets football team) at the Kentucky Derby he asked Don, "How would you like to play for us"? Don stood 6’3" and weighed a solid 224 lbs at the time. Don said, while he and Werblin were discussing money and terms, they missed the feature race, which he feels was a blessing. The horse they were to bet on came in last. "So even though we were not able to come to terms ," Don said laughingly, "We were both winners."
After retiring from live music in the 1960's, Don enjoyed a second career singing advertising jingles for companies like Stroh's Beer, Firestone Tires, GMC trucks, Chevy, Firebird Oil, Detroit Tigers, Burger Beer, and The Hymn Of The National Guard. In the 1970's Don retired completely from music and moved to New Hampshire where he opened and ran a successful small business and invested in real estate. Don became very vocal about local politics and soon a New Hampshire TV station hired him to moderate a local political talk show where Don's no-holds-barred, outspoken views generated a lot of buzz, earning him a lot of new fans and even a few detractors. His local TV career soon led to a year-long stint on radio, again moderating a politically charged talk show. In 1976, he established Ronson Ziebart in Hooksett, NH and resided there the rest of his life with is family.
Donald T. Rondeau passed away on January 27, 2011 after a valiant battle with lung cancer at his home in Contoocook, NH at the age of 81. He leaves his wife of 61 years, Ida Mae; daughter Deborah and son Gary; three grandchildren and a great grandson.
Song Hits - April 1958
When the critics write about Jubilee Records’ Don Rondo, more than often their introductory sentences began: “From farm boy to charm boy”, for indeed, Don did get his start in the music game while working on his Dad’s farm outside of Springfield, Massachusetts. One day, while “serenading” his barnyard friends, a passer-by heard the Rondo rhythms, suggested that the handsome crooner give serious though to a musical career, and that’s how it all began.
Today, Jubilee’s marvel is riding high in the world of wax, and his present day greatness, coupled with his fabulous past performances, has set him apart from his cohorts of song. Why? Well, let the critics tell the Don Rondo story for they, along with the millions of fans in the country, comprise the “audience” that can make or break a star.
Probably one of the “grandaddies” of the “roving” reporters is the internationally famous Walter Winchell, columnist for the New York Daily Mirror. After catching Don in one of his many night-club appearances Walter had this to say - “Not only is he a splendid performer, but a wonderful, wonderful singer. I am happy to report his is probably the best male voice to ever fill this vast nitery”.
Ted Pearson of Radio-TV Daily served as a fortune teller supreme when he stated - “Recommended record: “White Silver Sands” by Don Rondo. Rondo really lets go on this one and produces a potential top click”. Mr. Pearson, how right you were!!
In reference to one of Don’s more recent releases, Music Vendor was quoted with - “Curtain Call: Don Rondo’s Jubilee platter of “There’s Only You”, while Billboard magazine tossed a bouquet via “Rondo registers strongly with his delivery of “There’s Only You”…this appears to be the loot platter”. And continuing along Don’s musical trail of song, Ontario, Canada’s Daily Star added their rave with “Two Different Worlds” has made disc history”.
“Today’s Bravo”: Don Rondo is an artist to be reckoned - rich voiced baritone. He’s really a Jubilee plum thanks to his vocal pipes”. These and many, many more words have come the gifted Bay Stater’s way. And truer words were never spoken.
The newest Rondo release “Made For Each Other”, should definitely bring more accolades Don’s way, for this tune-topper is taking off in fine fashion. Any why not? For indeed, when such captions as “the perfect artist”, “a solid click”, and “powerful styling” are dished out, there’s only one fellow on the receiving end - Jubilee Records’ musical king - Don Rondo.
Topps 1957 Hit Stars trading cards
Don on "Breakfast Club"
Rehearsing for a show on WNHC-TV out of New Haven, CT
"Best Songs" May 1957
June 1957 - "White Silver Sands" is released
Billboard magazine - June 17, 1957
July 1, 1957 - Billboard's "Best Buy"
July 8, 1957
RONDO (Jubilee JLP-1052) October 1957
(released as EP in Nov '57)
(got into Top #100 on Billboard Album Charts)
Two Different Worlds / But Give Me Time / They Can't Shake My Faith In You / We're Not Children Anymore / There Is No Love / On Forgotten Street
While We're Young / He Made You Mine / The Love I Never Had / To Belong / Three Doors / Bring Back My Summer Love
HAVE YOU MET... (Jubilee JLP-1081, mono - JGS-1081, stereo) November 1958
Liza / Stella By Starlight / Ramona / Charmaine / Laura / Margie
Jeannine / Mona Lisa / Diane / Delores / Peg O' My Heart / Have You Met Miss Jones?
TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS (Vocalion 73897) stereo
Two Different Worlds / My Way / Play The Other Side / No Tears, No Regrets / I’ll Be There
Statue Of A Fool / Love Me Back / I Hurt All Over / Suppose We Never Met / Hungry Heart
Don was signed by Milt Gabler to Decca Records (New York) in November 1955
Evening Star / Beyond The Mighty River Decca 29738 Feb 1956 Evening Star / I Offer You My Heart Decca 30248 I'll Be There / Statue Of A Fool Decca 32561
Two Different Worlds / He Made You Mine (also on 78 rpm)
Jubilee 5256 Oct 1956
Don’t / The Love I Never Had
Jubilee 5270 Feb 1957
On Forgotten Street / To Belong
Jubilee 5282 April 1957
White Silver Sands / Stars Fell On Alabama (also on 78 rpm)
Jubilee 5288 June 1957
Forsaking All Others / There's Only You (also on 78 rpm)
Jubilee 5297 Sept 1957
Wanderin' Heart / In Chi Chi Chihuahua
Jubilee 5305 Nov 1957
What A Shame / Made For Each Other
Jubilee 5313 Dec 1957
Blonde Bombshell / There Goes My Heart Again
Jubilee 5319 March 1958
School Dance / I’ve Got Bells On My Heart
Jubilee 5320 April 1958
Dormi Dormi Dormi! (from “Rock A Bye Baby”) / Her Hair Was Yellow
Jubilee 5325 May 1958 City Lights / As Long As I Have You Jubilee 5334 Aug. 1958 I Could Be A Mountain / The Great Adventure Jubilee 5341 Sept 1958 Diane / Charmaine (released in stereo) Jubilee 9002 Oct 1958 Peg O’ My Heart / Ramona (released in stereo) Jubilee 9003 Oct 1958 Delores / Margie (released in stereo) Jubilee 9009 Oct 1958 Song From " The Geisha Boy" / Gretna Green Jubilee 5354 Dec 1958
Leave Your Troubles On My Lips / My Foolish Heart
Jubilee 5364 Feb 1959 Cuckoo Girl / You're On My Mind Again Jubilee 5372 May 1959 Because Of You / Alone In The World Jubilee 5381 Feb 1960 Blonde Bombshell / Two Different Worlds (re-recording) Jubilee 5421 Play The Other Side / Love Me Back Jubilee 5522 Batch Of Love / Quiet Girl Roulette 4202 Nov 1959 Wall To Wall Tears / Golden Rule Roulette 4216 Jan 1960 That’s My Girl / Even The Heavens Cried Roulette 4236 April 1960 Friends / A Hoot An’ A Holler Carlton 531 July 1960 The King Of Holiday Island / Wanderlust Carlton 536 Oct 1960 They Were You / You’ll Never Walk Alone Carlton 551 May 1961 So Did I / Malibu Atlantic 2194 June 1963 Till The World Knows You’re Mine / Is There Room In Your Tomorrow UA 50111 Dec 1966 Oh Why My Love / Let’s Live For Today UA 50191 1967 My Way / A Warmer World Tuba 1301 No Tears, No Regrets (After The Ball) / A Woman Is Many Things Tuba 1302 The Force Of Freedom / The Peace Corps Song ZTSC-96943 gift record
gift record courtesy of the International Freedom Festival
Detroit, MI / Windsor, Ont
Jubilee Monaural Sampler (MSJLP-803) 1959
Two Different Worlds
Jubilee Stereosonic Vocal Sampler, Volume 2 (SSJLP-802) 1959
Charmaine / Peg O’ My Heart
Jubilee Surprise Party, Vol. 1 (LP-1107)
Song from "Geisha Boy"
Jubilee promo flexi-disc for Wards (Junior Fashion Shop)
Rondo-Vous EP - USA 7" Vinyl Promo - Jubilee (LB 1)
Don Rondo - While We're Young / Della Reese - I Get Along Without You Very Well
The Cadillacs - Speedoo / Harry Sukman - Around The World / Enzo Stuarti - We're Not Strangers
Ballad Of The National Guard (10" EP) NG67158
with 6 versions, one vocal by Don
ON THE CHARTS
Two Different Worlds - #12 - Oct. 13, 1956
White Silver Sands - #6 - June 29, 1957
There's Only You - #58 - Oct. 5, 1957
City Lights / As Long As I Have You - #74 - August 1958
Ed Sullivan Show: Nov. 18, 1956
To Tell The Truth: Feb. 5, 1957
Ed Sullivan Show: June 16, 1957
Steve Allen Plymouth Show: August 4, 1957
American Bandstand: August 6, 1957 - performed "White Silver Sands"
American Bandstand: Sept. 20, 1957 - performed "There's Only You"
The Big Record: Sept. 25, 1957
Ed Sullivan Show: Oct. 27, 1957
Ed Sullivan Show: May 11, 1958 - performed "White Silver Sands"
Dick Clark Show: Nov. 15, 1958
Memorabilia & information compiled by Shawn Nagy/Super Oldies