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Poni Tails

  • The Poni-Tails were an American girl group from Lyndhurst, Ohio.
  • The wispy innocence of the Poni-Tails’ harmony has been heard on oldies radio for over thirty years thanks to one timely hit “Born Too Late.” A record about an older boy, “Born Too Late” is a rock and roll classic, a “girl group goldie,” and round the world favorite.

  • The trio of Toni Cistone (lead vocals), LaVerne Novak (high harmony), and Karen Topinka (low harmony) were students at Brush High School in Lynhurst, Ohio near Cleveland, when they started singing together in 1956. They performed at school functions and benefits, and it was at one of these shows that they were spotted by an attorney, John Jewitt, who gave them an introduction to music publisher Tom Illius. Illius liked the soft style of the trio and their original song “Que La Bozena.” Illius took them to the local Point Records, who issued their first single “Your Wild Heart” in January, 1957. Unfortunately, even innocence white girls were subjected to being covered. “Your Wild Heart” became a hit for Mercury artist Joy lane (#20) while the Version by the Poni-Tails, named for the hairstyle they wore at the time, became an instant collectible.
  • With Illius managing the group they had one more single with Marc Records “Can I Be Sure”.
  • Tony and LaVerne auditioned for a replacement for Karen when her father made her leave the group. They came up with former Regina High student Patti McCabe.
  • Illius got ABC Records’ Don Costa , later to produce/arrange for Paul Anka, Frankie Avalon, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and found DCP Records; interested in the group. ABC released “It’s Just My Luck To Be 15” by the end of 1957. It quickly disappeared.

  • Formed in a suburb of Cleveland, the Poni-Tails - Toni Cistone, Karen Topinka and Patti McCabe - started singing at Brush High School, which they all attended. Tom Ilius, a music publisher, had them signed to local record label Point Records, who released their first single, "Your Wild Heart" b/w "Que la Bozena" (the latter of which was written by the group). "Heart" was covered by the then-15-year-old Joy Layne, and became a nationwide hit.The next release was "Can I Be Sure" on Marc Records, which was not a success; following this release Topinka left the group and was replaced by LaVerne Novak.
    Soon after this, the group signed to ABC/Paramount and released "Just My Luck to Be Fifteen", a flop. Following this was "Come on Joey, Dance With Me" b/w "Born Too Late". The B-side caught on at radio and became the group's biggest hit, reaching #11 on the U.S. R&B singles chart and #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958.Follow-ups "Seven Minutes In Heaven" (#85 Pop) and "I'll Be Seeing You" (#87 Pop) fared less well, and their last single, 1960's "Who, When And Why", did not chart.
    ABC-Paramount attempted to sign the group to a further five-year contract, but the group turned it down. The members left the music industry and pursued careers in other fields in Ohio. They reunited to play a Cleveland festival, Moon Dog Coronation ball, in 1997. A CD released by Poni Records with 12 tracks credited to the Poni-Tails contains only one Poni-Tails song ("Born Too Late") and 11 tracks recorded by other groups.
    In 1991 LaVerne (Novak) Glivic was working for a real estate agent in Menor, Ohio, and had five grandchildren. Toni (Cistone) Costabile was working at a high school in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Patti (McCabe) Barnes died of cancer in January, 1989. Tom Illius subsequently became a top executive with the William Morris Agency in Los Angeles, California.

 

50s, 60s Hits

Born Too Late

Members of this Group


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