Doo Wop : A Continuation
Len “Muddy” Mardeusz
Doo wop was king back in the day, as people say.it started in the early ‘50’s and lasted into the early 1960’s. Doo Wop had a roller coaster ride. Bruce Morrow, aka “Cousin Bruce”, was part of the generation that literally thrived on the music. He wrote,”Doo Wop was a collection of meaningful
moments in our lives.
There were hundreds of Doo Wop groups across this country. They spawned many small recording companies looking for a group to deliver that one big hit. Record players changed to adapt to 45 rpm. and not just the 78 rpm speed. Manufacturers made the players portable as well. Even the smaller labels set up baffles in the studio in order to have each singer feature separation between the lead singer and the ranges of other voices, electronics had come a long way in the Doo Wop recording sessions.
Singles became much more affordable. The 45 rpm represented a simple revolution in the teen
generation. In essence, the Doo Wop years started in 1950, Popular music was seeing and more so hearing a change plaintive sounds with an infusion that had an infectious beat. One group The Clovers managed to cross into that mode with their hit in 1956 “Devil or Angel” had a swaying beat. Between 1955 and 1956, Doo Wop was the driver in the seat. The Del-Vikings with “Come Go With Me”...The Cleftones brought “Little Girl of Mine.”... and the El Dorados thumped away with “At My Front Door.”
It was the beginning of the era of radio DJ’s, Juke Box operators, payola and slime ball quick-get-rich scammers. A hip swinging boy from Memphis and Bill Haley were selling millions of records and Doo Wopers were welcomed to the party. Radio was the key. Stations across America featured music motivated DJ personalities. The more that “magic needle drops” on a 45 rpm received at radio station, the more it was heard. The music industry flooded radio programmers with a ton of new releases. Everything was predicated on sales reported to stations.one of the biggest selling groups was The Platters. The vocal group is royalty and among the most successful and fondly remembered of all time.
High schoolers personified the schoolboy scene that also was the most influential in identifying
with Doo Wop. They are in part given some credit for the production values of Berry Gordy’s
Motown label. The world might never have heard Michael Jackson had henot studied every note and nuance sung by little Frankie Lymon. Frankie Lymon w ere together for about a year and a half —a short time,but in that period they scored a double side hit for Atlantic Records, “I Want You To Be My Girl” and “The ABC’s of Love”. But their biggest hit “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” in 1956, changed what the young generation wanted. They wanted to feel a beat. The music had become more than something to listen to; they wanted something to move to. The industry coffers were brimming with cash from record sales, unfortunately, very little of the overflow reached the pockets of the group’s.
The mellow side of vocal music was out of fashion; DooWop was at its best when it rubbed up with rock’n’ roll. In 1957 American Bandstand premiered on ABC television.
Research for these Doo Wop articles comes from:
Doo Wop, The Music, The Times, The Era
By Bruce Morrow &Rick Maloof
Ye Olde Music Reporter
Doo Wop : The Music Part 1
Len “Muddy” Mardeusz
In regards to music, one does not hear that term much today. Make no mistake doo wop is not like hip
hop or rap.
It is a genre all on its own. Jazz used a lot of improvisation. In that respect it allowed a
transition that made doo wop possible. One can not deny that doo wop got its start when singers
sought to imittate band instruments with their voices. It was an efficient—as well as economical —
way to recreate the sounds of the band. Throughout doo wop you can hear vocalists sounding like
string basses, trombones and raspy saxophones.
The Mills Brothers, founding fathers of doo wop, were famous for fooling audiences into thinking
they were playing horns and strings. Another staple of doo wop was the singing of so-called
“Nonsense” syllables. These were oddball sounds that offered another means of imitating an
instrument. Syllable singing took doo wop to another level. It is very evident in the Silhouettes
famous yip-yip-yip..mum-mum-mum in “Get a Job” to the Cameos’ chorus of “Sanga Langa
Ding Dong”. Doo Wop artists borrowed a lot from old songbooks.
Suddenly, the appeal of black music to all people, especially teenagers, was not lost on record
labels. They realized there was a tremendous market to capitalize on, some even came to
understand there was a great deal of talent that needed exposure. The early small labels had
their heart in it. Unfortunately, their business acumen was less than proficient. Their interest was
making the “quick buck” while the iron was hot. Early in the ‘50’s young black artists always seemed
to get a raw. deal. In the early ‘50’s, white owned music stores and juke box operators referred
to black artist releases as “race music”. Initially, radio ignored doo wop music for soft ball stylings
Of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Doris Day and the like.
That said, labels of good repute did release black music e.g. the Mills Brothers, the Ink Spots,
Delta River Boys,and the Ravens, naming a few that led the road to the doo wop destination. The
vocals were arranged into distinctive parts, with a high tenor, midrange harmonies with a sprinkle of
oooh and aaah and thick punchy bass. At the bottom end syllable music that mimicked string basses and cellos in a mellow rich sound, a very deep voice that was distinctly black. Finally, doo wop’ s day finally arrived. Unfortunately, very few doo wap groups managed to hold on to their original members. For example, the Dominoes would have been doomed if not for a high tenor that belonged to a 19 yr. old ex-boxer named Jackie Wilson. The talent that emerged between 1951 and 1954 can only be described as undeniable. At this point radio had no choice but to jump on the doo wop wagon.
The Drifters were probably the most complex of all to doo wap groups. Their name alone fitted the accumulation of talent drifted from so many places. The group was jelled together by Atlantic Records, Music legend Ahmet Ertegun, who founded the label. The label signed Clyde McPhatter in 1953 to put together the Drifters. By the end of ‘53 they had a #1 hit with “Money Honey” and they would put out a list of hits for the next fifteen years. In the genre of doo wap by Atlantic Records led
the musical field in doo wap.
Space does not allow a continiuance now. There will be a Part 2 on doo wap. I must thank Bruce
Munro and Richard Maloof for guidance from their research book “Doo Wap”