MUSICAL DECADES - 1950s - Doo-Wop
This week I'd like to take you back to
the 1950s for some more Doo-Wop. If you missed Part 1, click here.
Built upon vocal harmony, Doo-Wop was one of the most mainstream, pop-oriented R&B styles of the time. Singers gathered on street corners, and in subways, generally in groups of three to six. They sang a cappella arrangements, and used wordless sounds to mimic instruments since instruments were little used: the bass voice singing "bom-bom-bom", a guitar rendered as "shang-a-lang" and brass riffs as "dooooo-wop-wop".
The Velvets were an American Doo-Wop group from Odessa in west Texas. The African-American quintet was formed in 1959 by Virgil Johnson, a high-school English teacher, with four of his students. Roy Orbison heard the group and signed them to Monument Records. Their first release was a tune called "That Lucky Old Sun".
Their biggest hit single was "Tonight (Could Be the Night)", which hit #26 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1961. The follow-up, "Laugh", peaked at #90, and after a half-dozen further singles the group disbanded.
Their complete recorded output runs to just thirty songs, which were collected on one compact disc and released on Ace Records in 1996.
The Five Satins are an American Doo-Wop group, formed in New Haven, Connecticut in 1957.
"In the Still of the Night" is a song written by Fred Parris and recorded by his Five Satins. While only a moderate hit when first released (peaking at #24 on the national pop charts), it has received considerable airplay over the years and is notable as one of the best known Doo-Wop songs, In total, their signature track sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.
"In the Still of the Night" is one of two songs that may lay claim to being the origin of the term Doo-Wop. The plaintive doo wop, doo wah refrain in the bridge has often been suggested as the origin of the term to describe that musical genre. (The other contender for the honor is "When You Dance" by the Turbans, in which the chant "doo-wop" can be heard.)
The Teenagers are an American integrated Doo-Wop group, most noted for being one of rock music's earliest successes, presented to international audiences by DJ Alan Freed. The group, which made its most popular recordings with young Frankie Lymon as lead singer, is also noted for being rock's first all-teenaged act.
"Why Do Fools Fall in Love" was the Teenagers' first and biggest hit in 1956. It reached No. 1 on the R&B chart, No. 6 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart, and number 1 on the UK Singles Chart in July. The song helped to make Frankie Lymon a household name and would make him a rock and roll pioneer.
The group, known for both their harmony and choreography, also had hits with "I'm Not a Juvenile Delinquent" and "The ABCs of Love".
The Rays were an American group formed in New York in 1955, and active into the early 1960s. They first recorded for Chess Records.
Their biggest hit single was "Silhouettes," a moderately-slow Doo-Wop piece of pop music that reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957 on Cameo after being initially released on the small XYZ Records. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
“Silhouettes” was written by Bob Crewe and Frank Slay, Jr. The group also had a minor hit with "Mediterranean Moon" and a mid-chart hit with "Magic Moon".
Barry Mann (born Barry Imberman, February 9, 1939) is an American songwriter, and part of a successful songwriting partnership with his wife, Cynthia Weil. He has written or co-written 53 hits in the UK and 98 in the US.
Mann himself reached the Top 40 as a performer with a novelty song co-written with Gerry Goffin, "Who Put the Bomp", which parodied the nonsense words of the then-popular doo-wop genre.
Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic (born October 23, 1959) is an American singer, songwriter, parodist, record producer, satirist, actor, voice actor, music video director, film producer, and author. He is known for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts, original songs that are style pastiches of the work of other acts, and polka medleys of several popular songs, featuring his favored instrument, the accordion.
Since his first-aired comedy song in 1976, he has sold more than 12 million albums (as of 2007), recorded more than 150 parody and original songs, and has performed more than 1,000 live shows. His works have earned him four Grammy Awards and a further 11 nominations, four gold records, and six platinum records in the United States.
So, to end this week's segment, here's Weird Al's parody of Doo-Wop.
So ends Musical Decades for this week. Thanks for listening and I hope to see you here next time.
(The information used in this post is from Wikipedia )
Dominique "Nik" Petersen is an aficionado of old music and the author of The Dr. Hook Trivia Quiz Book. Read about it and her other books at the website: