The days of fun music
Five decades ago The Defranco Family came on the scene with a hit record A Heart Beat is a Love Beat in 1973. I recall the single being played on local radio station WROV and climbing the charts on Kasey Kasem's Top 40 Count Down on WFIR. The group consisted of guitarist Benny DeFranco (born 11 July 1953); keyboardist Marisa DeFranco (born 23 July 1954); guitarist Nino DeFranco (born 19 October 1955); drummer Merlina DeFranco (born 20 July 1957); and lead singer Tony DeFranco (born 31 August 1959). The group's only other big hit was Abracadabra.
Tony looked and sounded like Donny Osmond of The Osmond Brothers and became an instant teen heartthrob for millions of young girls. Tony and his siblings were on the cover of popular magazines like Tiger Beat and Teen. My female high classmates would bring the magazines to Lord Botetourt high school and discuss how they were in love with Donny and or Tony and debate which guy was cuter. The group stopped performing in 1978 when the Disco era took over.
More than bubblegum
The Defranos were labeled as singing bubblegum music but to fans, their songs were fun, innocent, and about love. If you were or still are a fan of The Defranco Family and wonder what happened to them, Tony did an interview near the end of 2022 with Ed Gross of Do You Remember. and shared his journey from being a child star to, a teen idol. Sadly The Defranco's dealt with some of the same challenges that other young singers experienced during the 1970s.
They were taken advantage of by managers and others who were supposed be looking out for their best interest and not promoted in later years as expected. Reading between the lines it seems that Tony was considered a star who shinned brighter than his siblings like Michael Jackson. Based on the responses on the group's Facebook page fans of The Defranco Family do indeed remember. The five siblings have had issues like other families but have remained close over the decades and all 5 live in California.