Friday, June 8, 2012


Did you ever wonder where do Hall of Fame careers begin? Well in Dan Elliott's case we head to Central New York in 1964 with the formation of the East Syracuse band "The Galaxies." By 1965 the Galaxies had evolved into "The Dimension."adding Dave Moziak, Dave Usiatynski, Bill Willis and Dan Elliott.

Dan came from a musical family as his  older brother Jack Abert helped form The Monterays back in 1961. The Monterays managed by WNDR Radio's "Dandy Dan" Leonard were riding high on the Syracuse music charts with the release of their single I'll Be Around" (1965). When members Tommy Forest and Larry Landry departed for military service three members of The Dimensions (Moziak, Usiatynski and Dan Elliott) took their places.

With their new addition the band followed with their second single "Very Last Day." Then came July 22, 1966, when The Monterays opened for the Beach Boys at the Syracuse War Memorial.. The year 1967 was to be a great one for the Monterays and lead vocalist Dan Elliott as they appeared April 29-30 at the Teen Fair at the War Memorial, then a television appearance on WSYR's "On The Move" TV show  hosted by WOLF Radio's Windy Craig. They next appeared with "The McCoys" (Hang on Sloopy) and Question Mark and the Mysterians (96 Tears) at Mattydale's Sports-O-Rama. The year ended with the addition of George Day former keyboards  and vocalist with the "Saints and The Sinners" (Ron Lauback, Dave Machem, Si Sifer, Bill Willis, Tommy Forest, and Day)

The following year The Monterays continued dominance of the Syracuse airwaves with the release of their third and most popular single "If Wishes Were Horses." With the songs huge popularity came television appearances with Denny Sullivan on TV-3 and a February 11, 1969 War Memorial  concert starring The Turtles, Canned Heat. Soon after they sharing the stage with Sly and the Family Stone at Oswego State College.

When The Monterays broke up in 1970 due to military obligations and other reasons. Dan Elliott joined Wilkes Barre Brigade. A year later he was a member of the house band at the Red Rooster before joining one of Syracuse's most popular band "The Livin' Ennd." Fate is always a part of success and Dan's came when former CNY'er Dave Machan referred him to another former Syracusan world known band leader "Peanuts" Hucko who was now heading the Glenn Miller Orchestra. After being hired as their male vocalist Elliott was off on tour that included stops in Japan, Hong Kong and Canada.

Once again fate stepped in when former Syracuse booking agent Larry Rand (with Banner Talent in NYC) advised Dan that The Belmonts (of Dion fame) were looking for a new lead vocalist. The rest is history for the next five year The Belmonts were constantly on the road playing week long engagements in some of the worlds top resort hotels while also performing in every major city on Richard Nader's Rock Revival shows with acts as Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Del Shannon, Bo Diddley, The Drifters, The Skyliners and Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Between 1975-77, Dan Elliott and The Belmont's recorded two singles, a  12 inch disc and the album ":Cheek to Cheek." In other projects, Belmont Warren Gradus used Dan to sing lead in his recordings "Hey Baby Stay" and "Celebrate" under the name Foreign Intrigue (1977-78). A year later they followed with an updated version of the Gary "U.S." Bonds hit "Quarter to Three" recorded under the name H-O Gauge.

The music industry was changing and disco music was now featured in many of the top hotels and resorts.  This shortened the Belmont's schedule so Dan returned to Syracuse and reformed The Monterays. They opened for Jay and the Americans at Stage East Club- March 22, 1980. Now singing with two groups Dan Elliott enjoyed constant work.

Meanwhile with The Belmont he went into Associated Studio in New York and recorded the song "Let's Put the Fun Back in Rock & Roll" with the legendary Freddie Cannon (1981). This led to a national appearances first with Freddie Cannon on "Solid Gold" TV Show hosted by Andy Gibb & Marilyn McCoo followed by the "Mike Douglas" Show.

Back in Syracuse, Dan and The Monterays recorded the single "Ruby" b/w "Stay Awhile" for Air Records (1981) and appeared with Ray Charles. The Belmonts (with Dan) appeared in Syracuse on Wolfman Jack's Solid Gold Show at the War Memorial with Danny & The Juniors, The Tokens, Cadillacs and Shirley Austin Reeves (of The Shirelles).

During the Syracuse Area Music Award Show (1996), I had the great honor of inducting Dan Elliott and the Monterays  into the SAMMY's Hall of Fame.  Dan can also be heard on many of "Big Mike" Fiss Christmas Time Cd's starting back in 1998.

A trip to the England in 1992 playing at the Wembley Convention Centre. But It was April 13 , 2001, when The Belmonts received their greatest honor being inducted the Doo-Wop Hall of Fame at Symphony Hall in Boston. If this isn't enough The Belmonts took the stage February 2, 2008 at the Buddy Holly Tribute Concert "Fifties in February" at the historic Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, some 49 year to the day the music died back in 1959.

Lead guitarist Ron Lauback joined Dan Elliott and the  Monterays in 2002 (another former member of Saints and The Sinners) and two years later he was joined by his son Ronnie Dark.

Dan Elliott continues to dazzle audiences to this day with The Belmonts, The Monterays or a soloist traveling across the USA or in Central New York clubs and restaurants.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to add that the group George Day was in previous to The Monterays was known as The Saint and The Sinners. The band featured in addition to George, Tommy Forrest (vocals), Bill Willis (bass), Dave Machen (vocals/rhythm guitar), Si Sifer (drums) and Ron Lauback (lead guitar).

    Both Ron and myself are current members of the Monterays; my Father joined the band in 2002 and I joined a year later.


    Ronnie Dark