Twilight Time : The Three Suns ©2000JCMarion


The Three Suns were a unique sounding vocal-instrumental trio that had a number of very popular recordings during the Interlude Era. The personnel for this combo were brothers Al Nevins on guitar, Morty Nevins on accordion, and Artie Dunn on organ and vocals. The trio got their first big break playing leading hotel rooms in Philadelphia in 1939 which led to a long standing engagement (more than seven years) at New York's Piccadilly Hotel through most of the following decade. They began recording for the independent Varsity label in the early forties, but reached their first successes with another independent label called Hit Records. "Long Ago And Far Away" on Hit #7085 was a minor chart record, but in late 1944 the trio recorded a song they had written along with Buck Ram called "Twilight Time" on Hit #792 which got into the top fifteen best sellers list. Even more successful on the charts was the flip side featuring a vocal by Artie Dunn called "How many Hearts Have You Broken?" which lasted on the hit charts for four and a half months and peaked at number seven. One more charter for Hit "All Of My Life" on #7126 took the threesome into 1946.

Hit Records had gone out of business as the war ended and the trio was looking for a new label. While playing dates in Chicago they were connected with a new record company starting up in that city called Majestic. Even though the label was also an independent, they started out with big plans and a reasonable roster of talent. The Three Suns had a good second half of 1946 with two top ten smash hits on the label of hot tunes from that year. First was a song from the motion picture "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi" called "Five Minutes More" which was a hit for Frank Sinatra and Phil Brito among others. There was room enough among record buyers to make the version by the combo on Majestic #7197 to get as high as number seven in the country. They repeated this mark with Majestic #7205 - "Rumors Are Flying".

In 1947 they signed with a major label RCA Victor. For their new company they did a cover version of an old tune around since before World War I that was part of the score for the Zigfield Follies of 1913 and gave it their unique instrumental touch. The recording of "Peg O' My Heart" originally done by The Harmonicats for a small independent label named Vitacoustics, just started to take off when RCA had the Three Suns record it for them. In post war America the song was a sure winner and there was room enough at the top for both versions to go to number one. The Suns RCA Victor #2272 was in the top spot for a month and on the charts for five full months. Later in the year they had a moderate hit with an Artie Dunn vocal on "I Still Get Jealous" on #2469.

In 1948, they once more did a cover version of another old standard that was getting a lot of attention. Art Mooney did a Philadelphia Mummers styled version of "I'm Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover" that was selling big and so the Three Suns did their take on the song with Artie Dunn again on vocals. RCA #2688 was a top ten seller for the group. "Just For Now" charted briefly in late 1948 (RCA Victor #2946) with vocal by Artie Dunn & The Sun Maids. The vocalists returned early in 1949 with "You You You Are The One" (#3322)a cover of the Ames Brothers hit. The trio had moderate hits with 1949's biggest song "Cruising Down The River" on #3349, and "Don't Take Your Love From Me" on #5347 in early 1950.

After that The Three Suns were absent from the best seller charts for four years until a brief resurgence in 1954 with instrumental tunes on RCA Victor. A hit British dance tune called "The Creep" (#5553) paired with a ballad "Just One More Chance" was a moderate charter, as was "Moonlight And Roses (Bring Memories Of You)" on #5768, both getting into the top twenty five on the national charts. By late 1954 the rock 'n roll age was upon us and musical acts such as The Three Suns played to their adult audiences and their recording efforts moving into the LP field. The Suns had also changed personnel replacing Al Nevins with Joe Negri. The trio did well in the long playing field having three best selling albums of trio instrumentals in the mid fifties on RCA - "Soft And Sweet" (LP#1041), "Hi Fi And Wide" (LP#1249, and "Midnight For Two" on LP#1333. By the late fifties the group consisted of Artie Dunn, Tony Lovello on accordion, and Johnny Romano on guitar.

The Three Suns were entering their third decade as a vocal-instrumental trio with a signature sound that they developed and presented as their own. The well known treatment of hit songs of the time, and the authorship of one of the great standards of American music in "Twilight Time" made this trio one of the great musical memories of the Interlude Era.

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