Johnny Maestro, the doo-wop singer known for such hits as “16 Candles” and “The Worst That Could Happen,” died of cancer at the age of 70 in Florida late Wednesday night.
Maestro sang with The Crests in the 1950s and later The Brooklyn Bridge, with whom he performed as recently as January of this year at the Mohegan Sun casino. Maestro, born Johnny Mastrangelo, grew up in New York on Mulberry Street. He started his career singing in subways, and later was notable for singing with interracial groups before doing so was common.
The name of Maestro’s longest-running group came from a joke about the band’s marketability:
The band got its name after a manager declared it would be “harder to sell than the Brooklyn Bridge,” Maestro once said.
Maestro was living in Cape Coral, Florida at the time of his death. Before he died, Maestro left a message for fans on the band’s website, thanking them for supporting him through his illness:
A Message from Johnny Maestro
I would like to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for their thoughts, get well wishes and prayers while I am undergoing treatment for cancer.
I have been fortunate to be able to perform before the “best audiences”, our loyal fans, for over 7 decades dating back to the late1950’s. There have been no better times for myself and the Brooklyn Bridge then when we are performing, singing the music that brings back memories of times that we all cherish and hold dear to our hearts. I am very grateful for the opportunity that has allowed me to do something that “I love” and to be able to share our music with so many people.
I want everyone to know that when I read your messages, it brightens my day and gives me strength and determination to get back on stage. Your support is the best medicine.
Best Wishes…………………….Johnny Maestro