One of the final Italian doo wop groups to make a wave in the early '60s, the Duprees were in some senses not a rock & roll act at all. They relied on updates of pre-rock pop standards for most of their material, dressed up in classy big band arrangements. Their New Jersey street-corner roots were still audible in their doo wop harmonies, giving their treatments of moldy oldies enough of a contemporary flavor to compete in the rock and pop marketplace. They were very good at what they did, and in 1962-1963, they were very successful: "You Belong to Me" (previously recorded by Jo Stafford, Patti Page, Dean Martin, and Joni James) made the Top Ten, and "My Own True Love" (from the soundtrack of Gone With the Wind), "Have You Heard," and "Why Don't You Believe Me" were also Top 40 hits. The Duprees were already retro when they were at their peak, and were washed out by the British Invasion, although they continued to record throughout the late '60s, sometimes in a Jay & the Americans/Vogues style.
The group was founded in the early 1960s in Jersey City, New Jersey by William L. Dickinson High School students Michael Arnone, Joe Santollo, John Salvato, Tom Bialoglow, and lead singer Joey Canzano (later known as Joey Vann). George Paxton, a former big band leader was impressed by the group's style and signed them to his Coed Records label. Their first single "You Belong to Me" had previously been a hit for Jo Stafford in 1952. The Duprees' version was given a big band backing by Paxton and reached the US top ten in 1962.
The group had more top 40 hits in the next few years. "My Own True Love" was a vocal adaptation of "Tara's Theme" from the soundtrack of Gone with the Wind and became the group's second hit. "Have You Heard" and "Why Don't You Believe Me" also reached the Top 40 charts and, like "You Belong to Me," were originally early '50s female vocal hits (Joni James, in this case). The group became known for mixing doo-wop vocals with big band arrangements. Tom Bialoglow left in 1963. Mike Kelly, who had recorded on the group's original demos for George Paxton, replaced Joey Vann as lead vocalist in 1964.