High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Friday, April 10, 2009

On the Record: Platters & Flamingos Redux

The Platters and the Flamingos, two of the leading doowop groups of the 1950s, reinvented themselves in the 60s and contributed three songs to the Shady Dell’s Greatest Hits list.

The Flamingos drew first blood during March Madness 1966 when they shocked the house with an electrifying high-voltage dancer called “The Boogaloo Party.” The record became one of the hottest Dell hits of all time, winding up in the exalted Top 20. "The Boogaloo Party" is also included on Shady Del Knight’s exclusive list of the 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever!

Clearly, this was not the same flock of Flamingos that recorded “I Only Have Eyes for You” and other sugar sweet bird group doowop love ballads back in the 50s. By March of ’66, the Flamingos had undergone numerous personnel changes including the departure of Tommy Hunt, who left the group in 1960 to pursue a solo career that yielded the Dell classic “Human.” This new lineup of Flamingos rocked big time, yet the decision makers at Philips USA blew their chances for a hit by designating “The Boogaloo Party” as the B side of “The Nearness of You,” a song that tried to recapture the familiar old sound of the 50s Flamingos. The 45 lost traction when “The Boogaloo Party” became the only side to get any attention. “The Boogaloo Party” managed to reach the Billboard chart but stalled at #93 and was gone in two weeks. Once again, Shady’s Law (the greater the song, the lower the chart position) rears its ugly head!

It was a completely different outcome at the Dell and in soul clubs across the UK, where “The Boogaloo Party,” regarded by critics of the genre as one of the finest examples of 60s northern soul ever produced, exploded like T-N-T. “The Boogaloo Party” became the only Flamingos record ever to make the British charts. The song ultimately reached #26 in the UK, but didn’t catch fire until June of 1969, nearly three-and-a-half years after its American release.

At the Dell, a jammed floor was a foregone conclusion whenever “The Boogaloo Party” started playing. From the opening bongo flurry to the shouting finish, the thrill-o-meter remained pegged all the way. The Dell crowd eagerly took this up-tempo ride several times a night throughout the spring of 1966. There ain’t no doubt, "The Boogaloo Party" is clean outta sight!

Like the Flamingos, the Platters underwent numerous personnel changes over the years. Like the Drifters and Coasters, the Platters splintered into many different touring groups trading on the Platters name recognition.

The Platters that made an impact at the Dell in the mid-60s were the ones that featured tenor Sonny Turner on lead vocals.

It was this Platters group that signed with Musicor, made a chart comeback, and struck gold at the Dell with two of their new hits.

The Musicor Platters served up their first new Dell song in March of 1967.

Charting at #14 nationally and coming in at #117 on the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell, here’s Sonny Turner and the Platters singing “With This Ring.”

The Platters were back on Billboard four months later with “Washed Ashore (On a Lonely Island in the Sea)” which went to #56 nationally and landed at #93 on my Dell hits survey.

From July of 1967, here again is Sonny Turner on lead vocals with “Washed Ashore.”

While they might have been the Flamingos and Platters in name only, the vocal groups that recorded “The Boogaloo Party,” “With This Ring,” and “Washed Ashore” were right in step with the times and gave the Shady Dell three of its greatest mid 60s classics. This was not your father’s doowop.

Have a Shady day!

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