One of the most famous people in the world during the 1970s celebrated his 78th birthday on April 3. Forty-five years ago this summer, Tony Orlando suffered a breakdown on a Massachusetts stage in front of some 3,000 fans, and it all came crashing down around him – or so he thought.

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Best known as the lead singer of the musical group Tony Orlando and Dawn, Orlando soared to the heights of stardom with a hit television show and millions upon millions of records sold.

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Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson were Orlando's backup singers and appeared with him on his weekly CBS television variety program from 1974 to 1976.

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Orlando's "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" was one of nine gold records he achieved as a recording artist. Hits such as "Knock Three Times" and "Sweet Gypsy Rose" propelled Tony Orlando and Dawn to superstardom.

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The group's first major hit, "Candida," was released under the name Dawn in 1970.

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Wikipedia says Orlando had three top 40 hits in the 1960s with the studio band Wind before turning his attention to producing.

By the mid-70s, Orlando began to use drugs. First, it was over-the-counter caffeine pills, according to The Washington Post. Orlando told the Post in a December 1977 interview, "I'd take four vivarins before brushing my teeth." The paper says that after his close friend, actor Freddie Prinze, committed suicide in 1976, Orlando began using a "frantic and enormous amount of cocaine."

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On July 22, 1977, while appearing at the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset, Massachusetts, Tony Orlando had a breakdown and walked off the stage. He told the Post, "All I wanted to say was, 'Help me, I would like to get off the stage to see a doctor.'"

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Orlando did three more shows after Cohasset before canceling the rest of the tour. Orlando was determined to be suffering from manic exhaustion, and he was treated with lithium.

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Tony Orlando and Dawn reunited several times before parting for good. Orlando still performs occasionally.

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My aunt and uncle and several friends were in the audience the night Tony Orlando suffered a breakdown in Cohasset. They describe it as a surreal event, one they've never forgotten.

Were you or was anyone you know at the South Shore Music Circus that night?

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