American Bandstand goes National, black groups regularly appear with Dick Clark. White Doo Wop groups appear. Dion & the Belmonts are huge. The Bobbette’s and the Chantels become the first Female groups to have National hits and the Del Vikings become the first racial integrated groups. Their time has arrived.
Here is Part 3 of my 4-Part coverage of Doo Wop…
- The Silhouettes
- The Monotones
- The Danleers
- The Chantels
- Dion & The Belmonts
- The Dubs
- The Students
- The Impressions featuring Jerry Butler
- The Shields
- The Elegants
- The Fiestas
- The Crests
- The Skyliners
- The Mystics
- The Impalas
- Little Anthony & The Imperials
Get a Job/58 (one hit) huge song
The Silhouettes were one of the classic one-shot groups from the 50’s, and the one hit song that they did had tremendous success.
The group was formed as a gospel quartet in 1955 in Philadelphia and originally known as the Gospel Tornados. They consisted of Billy Horton, Richard Lewis, Raymond Edwards, and Earl Beal, and all were from Philadelphia. They began to do rhythm-and-blues songs and changed their name, first to the Thunderbirds and later to the Silhouettes.
Doo-Wop was very popular in the late 50’s and group member Richard Lewis collaborated with the group’s arranger, Howard Biggs, to write what became one of the most successful doo-wop songs of all time. Get A Job was recorded by the Silhouettes in 1957 for Junior, then released on Ember the following January. It went to number one on both the pop and rhythm-and-blues charts, but was to be the group’s only hit song.
A popular rock-and-roll revival group formed at Columbia University in the late 60’s, Sha Na Na, took its name from the lyrics to Get A Job. The Silhouettes re-formed in the early 80’s to tour as an oldies group. Billy Horton died in 1995 in Germantown, Pennsylvania and Raymond Edwards passed away in March, 1997 in Philadelphia
Book of Love/58
This R&B vocal group from Brooklyn, New York, USA, comprised Jimmy Weston (lead), Johnny Lee (first tenor), Willie Ephraim (second tenor), Nathaniel McCune (baritone) and Roosevelt Mays (bass). In 1957, the Danleers signed with composer/manager Danny Webb, who took the group and one of his songs, ‘One Summer Night’, to Amp-3 Records. ‘One Summer Night’ captured perfectly the teen angst of the rock ‘n’ roll era, and went to number 4 R&B and number 7 pop in 1957. Despite some equally evocative follow-ups on Mercury, the Danleers failed to have another hit, breaking up in 1959. Jimmy Weston continued his singing career in the Webtones, another recorded group managed by Danny Web The Webtones lasted until 1964.
The Chantels, were the first female R&B group to reach Nationwide fame. I do not think Arlene Smith performs anymore, but she, to me, was the voice of the Chantels. I just love this group.
I Love you so/58
Well, I told You/ Carlton 564/ 17/11/61/ # 29 Billboard
One of the very first girl groups, the Chantels are best-known for their 1957 hit “Maybe.” Between 1957 and 1963, the trio racked up a number of hit singles, but none of them was ever as popular as “Maybe,” which came to be regarded as one of the definitive singles of the genre.
All five members of the Chantels — Arlene Smith, Lois Harris, Sonia Goring, Jackie Landry, and Rene Minus — met as children, when they sang in the choir of Saint Anthony of Padua, a Bronx-area school.
Arlene Smith was the leader of the quintet. Smith wrote all of the group’s early material and she was the one who convinced the other girls — whose age ranged between 14 and 17 at the time — to audition for Richard Barrett, a record producer and a member of the doo wop group, The Valentines. Barrett signed the band to End Records and produced the Chantels’ first single, a Smith song called “He’s Gone.” Released in the summer of 1957, the single peaked at number 71. However, the group’s second single — another Smith composition called “Maybe” — was a smash hit, peaking at number two on the R&B charts and number 15 on the pop charts in early 1958.
“Maybe” sold more copies than its chart position suggests; the single was pirated by several other small record labels and none of those sales were tallied for the final chart position.
For the next year, the Chantels tried in vain to deliver a follow-up as successful as “Maybe.” Two hit singles — “Every Night (I Pray)” and “I Love You So” — followed on End Records, but the label dropped them after a handful of other records failed to make an impact. Around that time, Smith left the group to pursue a solo career and Harris had left the group. The Chantels didn’t replace either singer and continued as a trio.
In the summer of 1959, the group supported Richard Barrett on his single, “Summer’s Love,” which peaked at number 29 on the R&B charts. In 1961, the Chantels signed with Carlton Records, where they had two minor pop hits: “Look in My Eyes” and “Well, I Told You.” Carlton dropped the group the following year and the band moved to Ludix, where they had a minor hit with “Eternally” in the spring of 1963.
Arlene Smith, the original lead singer of The Chantels, rejoins the group for a guest appearance – Maybe
I have lot’s of favourites, but this person still is today. I just purchased a DVD of him live in Atlantic City and he would be 67 at the time. A great guitar player, he was able to get away with one name DION (DiMucci), and just a whole lot of talent. He was great with the Belmonts and even more successful by himself, fought the demons (heroin) and won, but only because he was helped by, and is still married to, (Runaround) SUE. They where the first white group with the Doo Wop sound.
Dion and the Belmonts:
I Wonder Why/58
No One Knows/ I can’t go on/58
I Can’t Go On (Rosalie)
A teenager in Love/59
Dion and the Belmonts was a leading American vocal group of the late 1950s. The group formed in late 1957 when Dion DiMucci, lead singer, joined The Belmonts – Carlo Mastrangelo, baritone, Freddie Milano, second tenor, and Angelo D’Aleo, first tenor.
After an unsuccessful first single, the group was signed to Laurie Records. Their breakthrough came when “I Wonder Why” made #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the group appeared for the first time on American Bandstand. They followed it with the ballads “No One Knows” (#19) and “Don’t Pity Me” (#40)
This success won Dion and the Belmonts their first major tour in late 1958, with The Coasters, Buddy Holly and Bobby Darin, and this was followed up by the “Winter Dance Party” tour with Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. On 2 February 1959, after playing at the Surf Ballroom, Dion decided that he could not afford the $36 cost of a flight to the next venue. The plane crashed; Holly, Valens, The Big Bopper, and the pilot were killed on 3 February 1959, shortly after midnight. However, the tour continued, with Jimmy Clanton and Bobby Vee being added to the bill as replacements.
In March 1959, Dion and the Belmonts’ next single, “A Teenager in Love“, was released, making #5 in the Billboard Hot 100 and #28 in the UK Singles Chart, and this was followed by an album, Presenting Dion and the Belmonts. Their biggest hit, “Where or When“, was released in November 1959, and reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, in early 1960, Dion checked into a hospital for heroin addiction, a problem he had had since his mid-teens. Other singles released for the group that year were less successful. In addition, there were musical and financial disputes between Dion and members of the Belmonts. In October 1960, Dion decided to quit for a solo career. The Belmonts also continued to release records, but with less success.
Dion and the Belmonts reunited in 1966 for the unsuccessful album Together Again on ABC Records, and again in 1972 for a one-off show at Madison Square Garden, recorded and released as a live album.
In 2000 Dion and the Belmonts were inducted in The Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
Billboard Hot 100
UK Singles Chart
|Oct 1957||“We Went Away” / “Tag Along”||Mohawk 105||
|Apr 1958||“I Wonder Why” / “Teen Angel”||Laurie 3013||
|Aug 1958||“No One Knows” / “I Can’t Go On (Rosalie)”||Laurie 3015||
|Dec 1958||“Don’t Pity Me” / “Just You”||Laurie 3021||
|Mar 1959||“A Teenager in Love” / “I’ve Cried Before”||Laurie 3027||
|Aug 1959||“Every Little Thing I Do” / “A Lover’s Prayer”||Laurie 3035||
|Nov 1959||“Where or When” / “That’s My Desire“||Laurie 3044||
|Apr 1960||“When You Wish upon a Star” / “Wonderful Girl”||Laurie 3052||
|Jun 1960||“In the Still of the Night” / “A Funny Feeling”||Laurie 3059||
|Oct 1966||“My Girl The Month of May” / “Berimbau”||ABC 10868||
|Jan 1967||“Movin’ Man” / “For Bobbie”||ABC 10896||
Don’t Ask Me To Be Lonely/1957
Could This Be Magic/1957
Now according to Rhino, and they are the experts, they pick “Don’t Ask Me To Be Lonely” as the significant song. I could not disagree with them more. The only Dubs song for me is “Could this be Magic“.
Original career, 1956-1958
The original members of the Dubs were:
Richard Blandon (born 16 September 1934 Montgomery, Alabama – died 30 December 1991, New York) – lead
Cleveland Still (first tenor)
Billy Carlisle (second tenor)
James “Jake” Miller (baritone)
Thomas Gardner, replaced in 1957 by Tommy Grate (bass)
The Dubs formed from the merging of two short-lived vocal groups in Harlem, New York, The Five Wings and The Scale-Tones. The Five Wings (originally “The 5 Stars”) were an up-and-coming group with members Jackie Rue (lead, later of Jackie and the Starlites), Frank Edwards (tenor), Billy Carlisle (second tenor), Melvin Flood (baritone), and Tommy Grate (bass). They recorded for King Records in 1955, but when they were unable to find success, the group began to splinter. Rue, Flood, and Edwards left, Kenny “Butch” Hamilton joined, and, shortly afterwords, Carlisle’s cousin Richard Blandon was in following his discharge from the United States Air Force. Meanwhile, The Scale-Tones had been formed by James “Jake” Miller and Thomas Gardner, who had added Cleveland Still (lead), James Montgomery, and Don Archer. They made one record on the Jay-Dee label in early 1956.
After some prompting by Blandon when he showed up at a Scale-Tones’ rehearsal, a new group emerged. This included Blandon and Carlisle from the Five Wings, and Still, Miller and Gardner from the Scale-Tones. The Five Wings’ manager, Buddy Johnson’s brother Hiram, offered to manage the new group. As The Marvels, they recorded an unsuccessful single, “I Won’t Have You Breaking My Heart“, for ABC-Paramount.
The group then renamed themselves The Dubs, and released Blandon’s song “Don’t Ask Me To Be Lonely” on the Johnson label set up by their manager. Radio acceptance was almost immediate, and the record was picked up for national release on George Goldner’s Gone label. It peaked at #72 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the summer of 1957, although like all their other records it surprisingly failed to make the R&B chart. Gardner then left the group to be replaced by Tommy Grate.
The group’s next single, “Could This Be Magic“, also written by Blandon, was another pop hit, rising to #23 later in 1957 and becoming recognized over the years as a doo-wop classic. This success landed the group a spot on an Alan Freed package and they toured extensively in the U.S. and Canada.
There are no pictures of this next group from Youngstown Ohio, called The Students. The songs are important, because one of them has been recorded many times. There is very little information about them, but this is what I know.
I’m So Young/58
Everyday Of The Week/58
(Would become “The Bristol Stomp”/Dovells/61)
Richard Johnson (Richie (Johnson) & the Students still exist)
Ralph Byrd (guitar)
“I’m So Young” is a song written by William H. “Prez” Tyus, Jr., of Cincinnati, Ohio. While still in high school, Tyus wrote the songs “I’m So Young” and “Every Day of the Week” and gave them to a local African-American vocal group called the D’Italians. Once a recording contract with Chess Records was secured, the group changed its name to The Students, and it was under this name that Tyus’s two classic doo-wop songs were recorded.
“I’m So Young” has been covered by the Rosie and the Originals, the The Del-Vikings, the Beach Boys, and, as “So Young,” by The Ronettes and the Devil Dogs
This record was very significant because, I’m so Young was the A side, but the B Side became very significant in it’s own right. Prez Tyus, the manager of the group, has said that they recorded an unreleased album in the late 50’s, either for Note or for Chess, but so far the tapes cannot be located. Yes, your ears do not deceive you – the song was redone, with a few minor alterations, and became a big hit again as “The Bristol Stomp” for the Dovells in 1961.
Released on the tiny Note Label in mid 58, the record was picked up by the ever aggressive Chess/Checker/Argo conglomerate in Chicago a few months later and reissued twice in the next few years. The group broke up soon after their second session for Note in 59, and the lead singer would eventually and tragically be institutionalized never to reemerge.
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Now we will have maybe my favourite slow song of all time. I think one of the best, if not the best, slow dancing songs recorded. For the first time the mighty Dick Clark was wrong. He said the song was to slow and would not go anywhere, yes he was wrong. This group was just loaded with Talent
The Impressions Featuring Jerry Butler:
For your Precious Love/1958
The Impressions came together as a union between Sam Gooden and brothers Richard and Arthur Brooks (members of a vocal group called the Roosters) and songwriter/producers Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield (of the Northern Jubilee Gospel Singers). Their debut single, “For Your Precious Love,” was a masterpiece of dramatic, resonant soul testifying that sold 900,000 copies and rose to #11 on the Top Forty. Released in 1958, it was credited to “The Impressions Featuring Jerry Butler,” and the spotlighting of the song’s lead vocalist resulted in jealousies leading to Butler’s departure that same year. For a few years thereafter the Impressions foundered, but they regained their footing and discovered their signature sound in the early Sixties with Mayfield in command. First, Mayfield co-wrote and performed on “He Will Break Your Heart,” a stately soul gem that became Jerry Butler’s first solo hit. In 1961, a re-formed Impressions, which found Butler replaced by Fred Cash, released “Gypsy Woman,” a marriage of Brazilian rhythms and sensuous soul distinguished by Mayfield’s sweet, supple falsetto.
Having been reduced to a trio by the departure of the Brooks brothers, the Impressions soared through the Sixties with a string of chart successes that established the group as the social conscience of soul music. Their biggest hit was “It’s All Right” (#1 R&B, #4 Pop), a casual, easygoing soul shuffle that provided much-needed comfort and solace to a nation reeling from the recent assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The Impressions songs that have had the greatest staying power are those, like “People Get Ready” and “Amen,” that provided inspiration to those caught up in the social struggles of the Sixties. All the while, Mayfield’s work outside the group as a songwriter and producer yielded a bumper crop of Chicago-soul hits for such artists as Major Lance (“The Monkey Time,” “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um“) and Gene Chandler (“Just Be True,” “Nothing Can Stop Me“).
Mayfield was paralyzed from the neck down in a 1990 accident when a lighting tower fell on him prior to a show in New York and died in 1999.
Finally the times had changed. In attempt to capitalize on the hit potential of a small record by the Slades (white group) in early 1958, R&B legend Jesse Belvin got together a group of his friends (black) for a one-off cover version and got himself a hit. The song “You Cheated” and the group may be a mystery. I will tell you who I think made up “The Shields”
Written by Don Burch of the Slades.
Frank Ervin, Jesse Belvin, Buzzy Smith, Buster Wilson & Charles Wright
John Goeke, Don Burch, Tommy Kaspar, Bobby Doyle, and Jimmy Davis.
You Cheated, You Lied
The Shield’s covered a record released and on the chart by a Texas Group, The Slades. This was a very small label, Domino with limited distribution. They later sold it to Liberty.
Jesse Belvin’s cover was far more successful and was picked up by Dot for National Distribution.
The Shields dissolved after the recording, Frank Ervin put together a touring group.
February 6, 1960: Belvin and his wife were killed in a head-on collision at Hope, Arkansas. The concert was the first concert played before an integrated audience in the history of Little Rock, and had been stopped twice by interruptions from whites in the audience, shouting racial epithets and urging the white teenagers in attendance to leave at once. There had been several death threats on Belvin prior to the concert, and there was speculation that Belvin’s car had been tampered with prior to the accident, though nothing was ever proved.
Little Star in 2008
Formed in the mid-50s in Staten Island, New York City, New York, USA, the Elegants were a white doo-wop group. They achieved a US #1 single, ‘Little Star’, in 1958, only to disappear from the charts permanently thereafter. The group was comprised of lead vocalist Vito Picone (17 March 1940), Carman Romano (b. 17 August 1939), James Moschella (b. 10 May 1938), Frank Tardogno (b. 18 September 1941) and Arthur Venosa (b. 3 September 1939). Picone and Romano had both recorded unsuccessfully with another group, the Crescents, before teaming with new singers as the Elegants. ‘Little Star’, built around the Mozart melody, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’, was a favourite of audiences and the group recorded it in mid-1958. The Elegants did not follow up their success for over a year, and further releases failed to chart. Although the members went their separate ways, Picone was still leading a version of the group in the early 90’s.
– written by Johnny Otis
Formed in Newark, New Jersey, USA, c.1958, the Fiestas were known for their R&B hit ‘So Fine’, released on Old Town Records the following year. The group consisted of Tommy Bullock (lead vocals), Eddie Morris (tenor), Sam Ingalls (baritone) and Preston Lane (bass). Two conflicting stories about the group’s signing to Old Town have circulated throughout the years. One has the Fiestas recording a demo tape in Newark, which studio owner Jim Gribble brought to the attention of Old Town’s Hy Weiss. The other simply has Weiss overhearing the group singing and liking them enough to take them on. The result was the group’s only hit, a soulful dance number which reached number 11 in the US charts. Only one other single made the charts, but the Fiestas stayed with Old Town until 1965. Tommy Bullock formed a duo with Cleveland Horne, Tommy and Cleve, and they had a hit in 1966 with ‘Boogaloo Baby’ (Checker). Numerous personnel changes kept the Fiestas working into the 70’s.
With the late Johnny Maestro, Step By Step and Sixteen Candles, do not know the year performed:
The Classic “16 Candles“/1959
Step by Step/1960
The Angels listened In/1959
Harold Torres, Jay Carter, Patricia Van Dross, Johnny Maestro, Talmadge Gough
One of the most successful integrated doo wop groups, the Crests waxed the classic ballad “16 Candles” in 1959. Formed in 1956, they began recording the next year for Joyce, where they inched onto the pop lists with “Sweetest One.”
Moving to the brand-new Coed logo, Johnny Maestro‘s warm tenor made “16 Candles” a national smash, and pop/R&B hybrids like “The Angels Listened In” and “Step by Step” also did well.
Maestro went solo in 1960, scoring the next year with “Model Girl” on Coed, while the Crests attempted to survive on their own. Maestro eventually reclaimed stardom as leader of “The Brooklyn Bridge”, an 11-piece aggregation that hit with “Worst That Could Happen” in 1968. He was successful in two groups because of his great voice.
– – – – – – –
You will note that the colour of the groups is changing…
The Skyliners from the PBS special and Since I don’t have you:
Jimmy Beaumont & the Skyliners, This I swear
—Since I Don’t Have You/1959
This I Swear/5
Jimmy Beaumont – Lead
Janet Vogel (Rapp) – First tenor
Wally Lester – Second tenor
Joe Verscharen – Baritone
Jack Taylor – Bass
The Skyliners were first formed in Pittsburgh, form two different groups, Jimmy, Wally and Jack had a group called the Crescents with three other guys. The group broke up they ask Joe and Janet to join them after they had left the group El Rios. They kept the name Crescents until their manager, Joe Rock decided to their name to The Skyliners.
In late 58 the group along with Joe Rock, wrote a song that they auditioned for Calico records in Pittsburgh. The company recorded the group and it was the first time a rock song had used a full compliment of Strings and brass. The song was released in Jan/59 and was their biggest seller.
Beaumont still performs with The Skyliners in their current lineup of Nick Pociask, Dick Muse, and Donna Groom (whose husband, Mark Groom, has been the group’s drummer/conductor for more than 25 years). Two of the original members have died; Janet Vogel (suicide) in 1980 and Joe Verscharen of cancer in 2007.
Phil Cracolici – Lead
Albee Cracoliei – Baritone
Bob Ferrante – First tenor
George Galfo – Second tenor
Allie Contera – Bass
The fellows began singing together in the late fifties on the street corners of Brooklyn. They were looking for a name for the group and put several names in a hat. “The Mystics” popped out.
Jim Gribble heard a demo record that the guys had recorded and asked them if they would like to audition for Bob and Gene Schwartz of Laurie Records. A recording contract followed.
The group was to record a song that Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote “Teenager in Love“, but that went to Dion and the Belmonts. They asked Doc & Mort to write another song along the lines of “Little Star” and in May of 1959 the result was “Hushabye” and it became a National Hit.
The Impalas from the PBS special and Sorry I ran all the way home:
Sorry (I ran all the way home)/1959
With sweet-voiced lead singer Joe ‘Speedo’ Frazier, this New York doo-wop group had an overnight success with their first record, ‘(Sorry) I Ran All The Way Home’. From the Carnesie section of Brooklyn, the rest of the Impalas were Richard Wagner, Lenny Renda and Tony Calouchi. They were discovered by disc jockey Alan Freed and Artie Zwirn, who co-wrote the bright, brash novelty tune with Gino Giosasi (of the Gino And Gina vocal duo). With an arrangement by Ray Ellis, ‘(Sorry) I Ran All The Way Home’ was released in 1959 on the MGM Records subsidiary label Cub, reaching # 2 in America and entering the UK Top 30. The follow-up, ‘Oh What A Fool’ was a smaller hit. The Impalas made later records for Hamilton and 20th Century Fox before splitting up. Frazier went on to sing with Love’s Own in 1973.
Little Anthony and the Imperials:
Little Anthony and the Imperials 1958 video Hurt so Bad
Tears on my Pillow/1958
Shimmy, Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop/1959
Going Out Of My Head/64
Hurt so Bad/65
In 1957, a doo-wop group known as The Chesters existed with members Clarence Collins, Tracy Lord, Nathaniel Rodgers, and Ronald Ross. Anthony Gourdine, a former member of The Duponts, joined as lead vocalist. Ernest Wright took over for Ross, and the group recorded shortly for Apollo Records.
Changing their name to The Imperials, they signed with End Records in 1958. Their first single was “Tears On My Pillow”, which was an instant hit. (While playing this song, D.J. Alan Freed dubbed the name “Little Anthony”.) The B side, “Two Kinds of People” was also a hit. The group followed up with “Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko Ko Bop” in 1960. When their success dwindled in 1961, Little Anthony left to attempt a solo career. Some members left, and the line-up then became Collins, Wright, Sammy Strain, and George Kerr. Kerr was replaced by Kenny Seymour after a short time. This line-up had little success.
Little Anthony returned in 1963, replacing Seymour. With the help of record producer/songwriter Teddy Randazzo, the group found success on the new DCP label with the dramatic pop-soul records “I’m On The Outside Looking In” (1964), “Goin’ Out Of My Head” (1964), “Hurt So Bad” (1965), “I Miss You So” (1965), “Take Me Back” (1965), and “Out of Sight, Out Of Mind” (1969).