Johnny & the High KeysEaston, PA Johnny and the High Keys were local favorites, playing all of the popular clubs. Their song, "The Christmas Game" was released on KHP Records, to much success.
Rick Carhart - Bass, Vocals
Marty Druckman - Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals
Johnny Defrancesca - Lead Singer, Hammond Organ
James Monk Storms - Drums
Joe Colarusso - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Michael "Gino" Schimpf - Drums
Terry Bosseler - Keyboards
Tony Spagnoletti - Manager
- Opened for Fleetwood Mac, Sly and the Family Stone and Little Feat
Saylor's Lake, Saylorsburg PA
October 7, 1973, Northampton Community College, Bethlehem PA
December 19, 2018
REMEMBERING JOHNNY "DEE" DIFRANCESCA 1947-2018
Tune in this Sunday December 23rd 9 to 10AM on AM 1470 Radio Show or online
Host John Richetta pays tribute with the help of High Key's lead singer Joey Collarusso and plays rare High Keys music on Tempo Italiano Radio Show AM 1470 and streaming online at 1470espndeportes.iheart.com.
John DiFrancesca, a well known and loved Lehigh Valley personality was well known for his engaging warm and upbeat personality and loved taking chances and building things. He was a self made entrepreneur starting with his creative side as a vocalist/musician, then as a band leader and musical director, band manager, booking agent, music magazine manager, and later as a real estate developer and property manager. Best known as a passionate entertainer with his soulful voice and a well known unique dynamic style of playing the Hammond B3 Organ. For nearly 30 years he was a very well respected key figure in the East Coast Music Scene.
Starting with forming the band Johnny & The High Keys in the early 60's where the band recorded in 1968 the 45 "The Christmas Game" B/W "Do You Believe" for Jamie Records in Philadelphia. The A-side of the single became a seasonal national Christmas rock. In the Lehigh Valley they developed a strong following in the early days and headlined teen clubs such as The Mod Mill, The Mad Hatter, and King Arthur's Court. They then grew as the biggest drawing band in some of the most prestigious over 21 venues in the Mid Atlantic states.
In the early 70s John recruited Joey Colarusso to take over the front man position in the band and changed the name to The High Keys as they expand touring to the East Coast opening for national acts such as Sly & the Family Stone, Fleetwood Mac, and Little Feat to name a few along with performing at high profile festivals, night clubs and resorts.
The High Keys' on stage performances were extremely popular with the public drawing thousands of people and also were perhaps the most respected musical band on the scene. Johnny was the young band's musical mentor. Their original recorded music caught the ears of some of the most prominent and respected Music Industry executives. Well known producer and A&R person Jimmy Ienner (best known for his production work on Dirty Dancing and with Lighthouse, Three Dog Night, and Grand Funk Railroad) was an advocate, championed the band, and funded recordings in hopes of signing them to a national label. On the heels of that period Johnny vacated the stage and segued into management shortening the name of the band to The Keys. At the same time he started his own booking agency in association with Tony Cee Associates where he established a very well respected roster of rock bands that he booked on the East Coast. He subsequently then joined forces with Media Five Entertainment growing his management roster to include highly successful bands Gandalf, Steph, and others. Missing being on the stage he founded the band Magic with two former members of Jay & the Techniques and for several years took a sabbatical from the music business side to return to his passion of performing live. For a period time John was also the general manager of Crawdaddy magazine based in New York City which at the time was a predecessor and competitor to Rolling Stone.
In the 2000s Johnny formed his last performing unit that was a trio called Amici with Renee Mowad co-vocalist to Johnny and his brother Joey DiFrancesca DJ/engineer. They played American and Italian favorites performing in the Lehigh Valley at fairs and festivals, were popular, and very well received.
John's later career was as a very successful real estate entrepreneur and segued into acquiring and redeveloping rental and commercial properties, consulting, and managing properties. He was always successful because he put his heart and soul, just like he did on stage, into every new venture that he pursued. Whether he was on stage, working behind the scenes in the Music Industry, or developing real estate, John was always respected for his integrity in business dealings and his engaging warm personality. Johnny had a lifetime of friends because of his style and class that kept growing through the years. He was always there to offer help a friend and roll up his sleeves when the situation called for it.
Born in Sicily he was proud of his Sicilian ancestry. He was a faithful member of Saint Anthony's choir which allowed him demonstrate his faith. Especially at May and Christmas when he would sing duets in the church and at Christmas performed "Dormi Non Piangere" with Jean Diomedo.
He was thrilled to introduce his home country several times to friends who traveled with him to tour Sicily and experience the culture. Easton, PA though was his hometown for close to five decades. He contributed many ways to its culture, was an ambassador and enjoyed assisting with the music programming of Easton Heritage Days.
Johnny passed away April 30th in Allentown, Pennsylvania. With his passing comes indelible memories of Johnny. As an entertainer/vocalist he has touched the hearts of audiences everywhere. Johnny always had a knack of making people laugh, feel good and important. His love for family and friends lives on