One of the most successful pre-rock vocal groups, the Four Aces did well during the early ’50s with a narrow range of pop material but burned out before decade’s end. Founded by Navy shipmates Al Alberts and Dave Mahoney, the act added Lou Silvestri and Sod Vaccaro before making a name for themselves around their native Philadelphia. After failing to find a distributor for their debut single “(It’s No) Sin,” Alberts founded his own Victoria label to release the single. It became a big hit in late 1951 and sold a million copies. Signed to Decca before the end of the year, their debut single for the label, “Tell Me Why,” just barely missed the top of the charts and sold a million copies as well. A few Top Ten hits followed during the early ’50s before the theme to Three Coins in the Fountain hit number one in 1954. Another movie theme, “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing,” spent over a month at the top during 1955.
For several singles during 1955, the group had been billed as the Four Aces Featuring Al Alberts; one year later, he departed for a solo career (but never even reached the charts). Along with the rise of rock & roll, the Four Aces appeared to be doomed. They scraped the charts with a novelty song (“Bahama Mama”) and a rock take-off (“Rock and Roll Rhapsody”), but failed to come through with any hits after 1959. Al Alberts continued to perform into the ’90s, leading a newer edition of the act.
— John Bush
The original members were Al Alberts (originally Albertini), Dave Mahoney, Lou Silvestri, and Rosario “Sod” Vaccaro. They all came from Chester, Pennsylvania.
Alberts went to South Philadelphia High School, Temple University, and the United States Navy, where he met Mahoney. Originally, Alberts sang with Mahoney playing behind him, and later they added Vaccaro on trumpet and Silvestri on drums. They played locally in the Philadelphia area, and Alberts started his own record label, Victoria Records, when they could not find a distributor to release their first record, “(It’s No) Sin.” It sold a million copies, and Decca Records soon signed the group, billing them as The Four Aces featuring Al Alberts.
Alberts, however, left the group in 1956 to try to make it as a soloist, but never made the charts. He was replaced as lead singer by Fred Diodati, who had attended South Philadelphia High School a few years after Alberts.
Eventually the group broke up, but Diodati still has a group which he calls the Four Aces, though it contains none of the original members. In 1975 a court awarded Diodati the right to the name in a court suit in which the original members tried to establish their right.
The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001.
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