The Mystics

It was late 1956, in Pop’s Candy Store on 16th Avenue and 77th Street — just across from New Utrecht High School. The Overons were singing on the corner every night, and polishing their sound. Jim Gribble heard them at an audition and liked their sound. He felt he would have no trouble getting this group signed to a recording contract, but the name “Overons” had to go. To find a new tag, all five members wrote one new name they liked on a slip of paper, and all the papers were put into a hat. Allie Contrera remembers finding “Mystics” by going through a dictionary. When his piece of paper was drawn out of the hat, the Overons became the Mystics.

In late 1958, Gribble secured a recording contract with Laurie Records for the Mystics using the demo tunes the group had cut. Upon finding out that they were going to record for Laurie, the group was ecstatic as this label was the home of Dion and the Belmonts. Word spread quickly in Bensonhurst about the Mystics’ good fortune. The Mystics soon recorded two songs for Laurie, “Adam and Eve” and the old Weavers’ tune “Winoweh”.

These first efforts were arranged and produced by Elliot Greenberg but Laurie was not happy with the results and commissioned Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman to write an original tune for this group. Mort Shuman was friends with the Mystics, as he knew them from Bensonhurst where he also lived. Soon the Pomus and Shuman team came up with “Teenager In Love” for the group, but the Mystics were quickly disappointed. Laurie decided to give the material to the already successful Dion and the Belmonts. Laurie execs felt that a song more in the style of the Elegants’ “Little Star” would be better suited for the Mystics and told Pomus and Shuman to come up with something else. The next day, Pomus and Shuman came back with “Hushabye”.

In May of 1959. Laurie released “Hushabye” b/w “Adam and Eve” and within a few weeks the record was a smash. Peter Tripp on WMGM radio was the first to play it. Soon Alan Freed started featuring “Hushabye” as the closing tune on his televised Saturday night Big Beat Show. In fact, one night Freed played “Hushabye” four times in a row!

In late summer of 1959, Laurie released the Mystics second single with“Don’t Take The Stars” doing very well locally and in the tri-state area. They went on to record a long string of singles for Laurie Records. In the early eighties, the reformed Mystics recorded an album for Ambient Sound.

Today, the Mystics continue to perform throughout the Northeast, led by original lead singer Phil Cracolici. Their repertoire still includes many of the songs they recorded for Laurie Records, as well as a variety of early rock and roll hits that influenced them when they were teenagers in Bensonhurst. Audiences fondly remember “Hushabye”, which they never fail to sing along with.

The Mystics are happy to be a part of the Brooklyn Reunion show, and continue to enjoy singing with many of the same friends that once shared the same Brooklyn streetcorners.


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