Billy and the Essentials began singing on the street corners of Philadelphia in 1959. Billy Carlucci, the lead singer, has been the mainstay of the group, although the background members have changed throughout the years. The group's distinctive sound has endured in its many hits, including, "The Dance is Over," Maybe You'll Be There," Over the Weekend," Babalu's Wedding Day" and sought-after rare cuts.
The conception of Billy and the Essentials began as The Crystals, then, Little Billy and the Crystals, then, the Essentials, then, Little Billy and the Essentials. The early group members were lead-singer Billy Carlucci, and Pete Torres, Johnny Caufield, Jimmy Brown and Bill Neiman.
In 1959 Billy created record demos for the group, with money borrowed from his mother, for rare cuts, "Gee," and "Let's Pretend," "Our Rendevouz," "My Love," and "Resolutions," which were composed by Billy and Pete. Billy presented the demos to record companies in New York and, in 1961, "The Dance is Over" was released. By then, the background lineup had changed to Pete Torres, Mike Lenihan, Johnny Caufield, and Phil D'Antonio with Billy Carlucci remaining as lead singer.
Throughout the sixties, Billy recreated the Billy and the Essentials' line-up, adding Richie Grasso on the stomp hit, "Babalu's Wedding Day" and "Don't Cry (Sing Along with the Music)."
Billy and the Essentials' first hit, "The Dance is Over" became the iconic teenage love song played at all of the hops as the last song of the night. On its heels, the classic, "Maybe You'll Be There" was released to national acclaim and remains the beloved theme song for the group.