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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dueling Doo-Wops, Vol. 2


 Dell Rat Ron's back to 

 join me as I spin more 

 of the greatest doo-wop 

 records of the 50s & 60s. 

 Ron, I see you're 

 starting with the 

 White Rose City's 

 own Quin-Tones! 

 "Faith is taking the first step 
 even when you don't see the whole 
 staircase." Martin Luther King, Jr. 


 That's right, Shady.  
 Let's pick up the story 
 of the Quin-Tones where 
 we left off in Volume 1.  
 Despite the lackluster 
 performance of their 
 first record, "Ding Dong," 
 the R&B vocal group from 
 York, Pennsylvania made 
 a good impression and 
 were able to tour. They 
 also got busy writing 
 their next song, "Down 
 the Aisle of Love," and 
 went back into the 
 studio and recorded it.  
 The single was released 
 on Red Top, a Philadelphia label, and a hyphen appeared in 
 the group's name, making them, from that point on, the 

 "Down The Aisle of Love" hit the street in June of 1958 
 and became a big national hit, penetrating the top 20 on 
 the pop side and going all the way to #5 on the black 
 singles chart.  Contributing significantly to the success of 
 the record was the opening hook, the familiar melody from 
 "Here Comes The Bride."  Is it any wonder that "Down 
 the Aisle" has been a popular wedding song ever since? 

"Down the Aisle of Love" - Quin-Tones (September 1958, 
highest chart position #18/#5 R&B ) 

 Demand for the Quin-Tones hit record was so great that 
 the small indie label Red Top couldn't keep up with orders. 
 An agreement was reached to have the record released on 
 Hunt, a larger Philadelphia label, and to have it distributed 
 nationally by ABC Paramount. "Down the Aisle of Love" 
 eventually sold nearly a millon copies and became the 
 Quin-Tones signature song.  The B side, "Please Dear," 
 which featured Sissie Holmes on lead, also received a lot 
 of airplay. 

"Please Dear" - Quin-Tones (October 1958, uncharted) 

 Ron, let me grab 
 the microphone and 
 introduce three acts 
 that were loved in 
 York, Philly, and in 
 another important 
 doo-wop mecca, 


From the 1950s through the mid 60s the greater Pittsburgh area was a doo-wop lover's paradise. One of the all time greatest radio hits in the Pittsburgh metro market is the 1964 Scott English record "High on a Hill." English, a Brooklyn born songwriter and producer, co-wrote "Help Me Girl," my favorite Animals hit, along with "Bend Me, Shape Me," a hit for the American Breed. He also helped compose Barry Manilow's 1974 hit "Mandy." To the thousands of kids who danced to his mid 60s doo-wop classic in high school gymnasiums all over Western Pennsylvania, Scott English will always be
king of the hill.

"High on a Hill" - Scott English (March 1964, highest 
chart position #77) 


Here's another of Pittsburgh's favorite oldies and another
mid 60s doo-wop record that fought valiantly in a losing battle against the British Invasion. It was also a Geator Golden, spun by Philadelphia broadcast icon Jerry Blavat
on his Discophonic Scene dance party and at his Jersey nightclub Memories in Margate. Recorded late in 1964 and released early the following year on Pittsburgh's Val Record label, here is a sweet ballad that Heinz oldies enthusiasts
call the greatest slow dance record ever made, the stuff
of which dreams are made..."Let Me Love You" by George Goodman and His Headliners.

"Let Me Love You" - George Goodman and His Headliners 
(January 1965, uncharted) 


Another artist who was enormously popular in Pittsburgh was R&B vocalist Bertha Tillman, a native of San Diego who was discovered while working as a department store saleswoman. Along with her backing group, the Jackals, who also recorded as Hank Blackman and the Killers, Bertha waxed a powerful, gospel-tinged slow jam entitled "Oh My Angel." The record, an early 60s ballad with a decidedly 50s feel, was played often by York radio legend Doc Daugherty and by boss jock Jerry Blavat in the Delaware Valley. Like many of the greats Bertha Tillman died young. She left us far too soon at the age of 50. Her early demise notwithstanding, Bertha Tillman achieved immortality by giving us one of the most gripping, soul-stirring doo-wop ballads ever made.

"Oh My Angel" - Bertha Tillman (June 1962, highest chart 
position #61) 


Bertha Tillman recorded on the Brent label, a subsidiary of Time Records. It's the same label that released records by Skip and Flip. Skip was Clyde Battin. Flip was award winning songwriter, producer and singer Gary S. Paxton.  Recording as the Hollywood Argyles, Paxton had a #1 charting novelty hit in 1960 with "Alley-Oop."  Paxton formed his own record company, Garpax, and at Halloween 1962 produced a second novelty hit, "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett.  Paxton also produced hits for other artists including Tommy Roe's "Sweet Pea" and "Along Comes Mary" and "Cherish" for the Association.  In 1959, paired with Battin as Skip and Flip, Paxton wrote "It was I." The duo recorded and released it and achieved their first hit, just missing the top 10.

"It Was I" - Skip and Flip (September 1959, highest 
chart position #11) 

"Fancy Nancy," the second Skip and Flip single, performed modestly, but their third release, "Cherry Pie," was another hit that fell just short of the top 10. The version of "Cherry Pie" by Skip and Flip was a nifty cover of a 1954 hit by Marvin and Johnny that had been released as the flip side
of that R&B duo's jump record "Tick Tock."

"Cherry Pie" - Skip and Flip (June 1960, highest chart 
position #11) 

 Ron, your next two featured 

 platters have rather interesting 

 back stories. Say it and play it, 

but remember, good buddy, to 

make a long story short! 


 Shady, Eddie and the Starlites had no members in common 
 with Jackie and the Starlites, the group profiled in Volume 1 
 of our series. However, "To Make A Long Story Short," a 

 record by Eddie Jenkins' group, was requested just as often 
 as "Valarie" (aka "Valerie"), the record made by Jackie Rue's 
 group.  "To Make a Long Story Short" was the B side of 
 the up tempo "Pretty Little Girl," the second single to be 
 released on Scepter, the new record label established by 
 Florence Greenberg which became home to the Shirelles. 

"To Make A Long Story Short" - Eddie and the Starlites 
(1959, uncharted B side of "Pretty Little Girl") 


 Up next, Shady, is Cathy Jean and the 
 Roomates, a white group that earned 
 a hit in 1961 with "Please Love Me 
 Forever," a remake of a 1958 ballad 
 by Tommy Edwards, the black singer 
 best known for his #1 smash "It's All 
 In The Game." The Cathy Jean cover 
 is unique because it was made without 
 Cathy Jean and the Roomates ever 
 having met each other. 14 year old 
 Cathy Jean Giordano, who brings to 
 mind Rosie of Rosie and the Originals, laid down her solo 
 vocal in May of 1960. Jody and Gene Lamis, founders of 
 the fledgling Valmor Records, decided that the recording 
 sounded demo and needed additional vocal backing. They 
 brought in the Roomates, an all male group, to record the 
 harmony.  By the time the guys arrived Cathy Jean had 
 already left the studio and she didn't come face to face 
 with them until after the record was made.  The over- 
 dubbed Roomates track combined with Cathy Jean's lead 
 vocal made the record pop and a full year after the studio 
 session "Please Love Me Forever" peaked near the top 10 
 on the Billboard chart. 

"Please Love Me Forever", Cathy Jean and the Roomates 
(May 1961, highest chart position #12) 

 Note that the word roommates was misspelled on the 
 Valmor record label and it stuck. That spelling and the 
 "correct" spelling of the group name are both in use today. 

Ron, let me finish 

 today's super set  
 with four more 
 doo-wop whoppers! 


Southern R&B giant James Brown is famous for funk, but old schoolers know and love the doo-wop ballads that Brown recorded earlier in his career. By 1961 The Amazing Mr. Please Please Himself was already a familiar voice on the Shady Dell jukebox on his way to becoming one of the biggest contributors of Dell dance music that decade. Recording for Federal Records the year before, Brown had scored a top 40 hit with the up tempo release "Think." Later, on King Records, the hardest working man in show business earned his second top 40 single with "Bewildered" a ballad that went top 10 on the R&B survey.

"Bewildered" - James Brown (March 1961, highest chart 
position #40) 

"I Don't Mind", James Brown's follow-up release, missed the pop top 40 but broke the top 5 on the black chart. It would take four more years and a brand new bag for brother James to become a consistent crossover hit maker, but soulful sides like "I Don't Mind" are indicative of Mr. Dynamite's greatest period before junk-in-the-trunk funk supplanted simple, straightforward R&B balladry.

"I Don't Mind" - James Brown (June 1961, highest 

position #47) 


I gotta believe that these Scranton guys could have been more successful if they would have picked a group name and stuck with it. Lead singer Mike Lanzo and his mates started out as The Supremes (now there's a catchy name), changed it to Dick & the Halos and also recorded under the name Mike Lanzo & The Blue Counts. However, they are best known as The Precisions, The Magics and The Palisades! Confused yet? In 1963, the group recorded "Chapel Bells" and issued 100 records with the group name The Palisades printed on the local Debra label. They stopped the presses, changed their name, and released the rest of the 45's as by The Magics. "Chapel Bells" made inroads on the top 40 surveys of local radio stations, going as high as #3. So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, here they are, the pride of Scranton Pennsylvania, singing their regional hit "Chapel Bells," let's give it up for The Dunder Mifflins!

"Chapel Bells" - The Palisades/The Magics (1963, uncharted) 


Ron, let me wind up today's proceedings by making it mellow with the Mello-Kings. If you're a detail person like me it drives you crazy when you encounter a record like this. The vocal group's name was spelled three different ways: Mello-Kings, Mello Kings and Mellokings. The title of their only hit record was spelled two different ways: "Tonite Tonite" and "Tonight, Tonight." The single charted two different years: 1957 and 1961. Amid all the confusion one thing's for sure. Although "Tonite Tonite" lingered on the lower end of the Billboard chart both times it was issued, never rising above #77, the guys from Mount Vernon, NY, left us with one of the most enduring and highly regarded vocal group harmony recordings of the early 60s!

"Tonite Tonite" - Mello-Kings (October 1957, highest chart 
position #77/ February 1961, highest chart position #95) 

 Thank you, Dell Rat Ron, for 

 another fun-filled doo-wop 

 swap!  There are three more 

 exciting volumes still to come, 

 so stick around and stay tuned! 

Have a Shady day!


  1. thanks a lot for your nice comments on my blog,I really appreciate your friendship,particularly in this sad moments.

  2. Katia - You will always have my friendship. As blog friends we share each other's triumphs and tragedies and I am proud to offer my support. I hope that your spirits will rise in the days and weeks to come. Thank you very much for your comment, dear friend!

  3. I was hoping we'd get the Part Two of Doo Wop! I listened to the oldies station the other day just to see if I could hear some Doo Wop, and I wasn't disappointed.

    I found it really fascinating about Scott Hill. His talents spawned not only time, but genres, too. Is he still alive/ working in music?

    Also, I never in a million years would have guessed James Brown had done Doo Wop, and sounds so good doing it.

    You and Ron really gave us another wonderful treat today. Thanks to you both!

  4. Shelly - As far as I know Scott ("High on a Hill") English is still alive and well. Here's a clip of Scott singing his composition "Brandy" which became the hit "Mandy" for Manilow.

    James Brown was an all around performer who made excellent recordings throughout his career, but I have a soft spot in my heart for his sweet, plaintive ballads. Thank you very much for coming to the party, dear Shelly, and have a terrific Tuesday!

  5. Hi Tom. Apart from James Brown, I hadn't heard any of the featured artists today, which makes me sad really, because I always think that I can't really come up with anything interesting to say! I really love doo-wop as well!! Earlier today, I ordered some Christmas pressies on line, and they said that I could have a free CD. They were all hits of the various decades. As I have loads of 60's music, I've gone for hits of the 50's, so it will be interesting to see what songs are going to be on there. Been really dark and dreary here today dear friend :( Hope it's better where you are.

  6. Thisisme - It's a beautiful day here with the high going up to 82. I'm sorry you're getting more of that Devonish weather again. I hope you enjoy your CD of 50s music. After decades of focusing on the 60s I have been getting keenly interested in the 50s again, especially since I started putting this series together with Ron. I am very thankful to know that you and your loved ones are safe in the wake of the recent freeway disaster. Thank you for stopping by, dear friend Thisisme, and have a wonderful afternoon and evening!

  7. Hi Shady! Another great post. I really enjoy all the history and trivia you add to the music. You guys amaze me with all the musical history you know. I don't believe I ever heard High On A Hill. Chapel Bells by the Magics is high on my lists of favorites as is I Don't Mind and all the slow dance songs by James Brown. Really looking forward to the next segments. Have a great week.


    PS: My Quintones 45 plays with less scratches!!!!!!

  8. Tom, you're going to send me right to the back of the class today, because I'm still trying to figure out what doo-wop actually means. Yes, I'm that dim, I'm afraid. I'm trying to be a better student, but it seems I'm not making much progress. I read and listen and find myself being astounded at your level of knowledge and all the many things you can say about these record labels and artists and the period in which they 'made it'. I enjoy the asides, learning a little more about them as individuals and not just simply performers and feel sad along with you when I learn how young many of them were when they died. But, were I to be in a room full of Shady Dell like-minded music lovers, I'd not be able to contribute anything even remotely intelligent. I would only be able to say, "Oh, I know Tom and I love him!" So, yes, I'm still right at the very, very bottom of your class. In fact, I think you'll be offering me the job of cleaner any day now. I am very good at that, though! Give me a vacuum cleaner and a damp dusting cloth and I'll have your archives in ship shape condition in no time at all.
    It's not that I'm too old or too young either. I was born in 1955 and so I'm sure my music loving parents must have played and sung to these tunes all the time. I'm not hard of hearing either, so that's not the problem. I think I have just always valued silence and the sounds of nature over and above the sounds and noise of man.

  9. Jerre - I figured you'd like "Chapel Bells" by Scranton's finest, the Dunder Mifflins. (LOL) I was very familiar with Bertha Tillman's classic but there are a bunch of Heinz Oldies that I never heard before. It was exciting to find those other dreamy Pittsburgh ballads on YouTube. That's the one good thing I can say about YouTube - they have doo-wop well represented. I'm getting spoiled by this great old music and might never again go back to Disco Tex and His Sex-O-Lettes! Thanks so much for your comments, good buddy. They mean a great deal to me. There's a lot more ahead in Volumes 3, 4 and 5!

  10. Desiree - I'm not about to make you wear a dunce cap, my dear friend! :) Keep in mind that Ron and I are not only presenting music and information that we already know. We are also learning as we go along just as you are. I was also somewhat sheltered in my childhood. The only music that I knew was that which my parents and older brother payed in our home. None of it was the kind of music that I am presenting in this doo-wop series. When I was in my twenties I began to take an interest in 1940s and 1950s R&B and doo-wop and assembled a large collection which I later foolishly sold. When Dell Rat Jerre recently expressed his desire to see more older material posted on my blog, Ron and I both jumped at the chance to showcase these great but forgotten artists and recordings. Much of it came back to me as I worked on these posts but a lot of it is as new to me as it is to you. It's never too late to learn something new and that's one of the benefits of blogging. Another is quality friendships like ours, Desiree. I think the world of you. Thank you very much for coming all the way over from South Africa and do have a pleasant and restful night, dear friend!

  11. wow this post is chock full of good tunes. Iwi sh I would have known about Down The Aisle of Love before I got hitched. I would have definitely requested it to be played that night. High on a Hill is another gem that I could see dancing the night away to. Oh Shady how I've missed you!

  12. Amber Blue Bird - I was so worried about you, dear friend! I know you must already have a belly full of winter even tho the calendar says it hasn't yet begun. I am so sorry about your hardships. It speaks well of you that you came over to see me today. Perhaps a couple of these oldies but goodies helped to improve your mood. Thank you very much for making time for me, dear Amber, and welcome back to Bloggerville!

  13. Great line-up. I learned a lot today, like who wrote some of the hits I loved years ago: Gary Paxton and Scott English.

    I only recognized two songs this time. Cherry Pie and Tonite, Tonite, both of which I like. I enjoyed "It was I", very cute. All were good songs. Cathy Jean was sure young! She had a nice voice. Thanks for the hits, Tom.

  14. Belle - As I mentioned to Desiree I am learning a great deal as I do research for these posts. There are actually only a few of these records that I remember from childhood: the two by Skip & Flip, Cathy Jean's and the one by the Mello-Kings. I got to know all the rest during adulthood, some as recently as a couple of weeks ago. Cathy Jean was indeed a singing prodigy. Later in this series I'll be posting other records made by performers her age or even younger. Thank you very much for taking a look and a listen, dear Belle, and have a fine evening up in B.C.

  15. This was really fun Shady except for the fact that except for James Brown I didn't have a clue who the rest of the artists were. That's OK since I needed to broaden my knowledge of great artists during my teen years. Have a wonderful week. We will be making our journey home tomorrow reluctantly.

  16. Odie - Again I thank you for taking time out from your travels to visit me here. I'm not surprised that JB was the only familiar name in this bunch. I'm glad you learned a little something and enjoyed some of the work of other talented artists. As you might have read, Gary Paxton of Skip and Flip produced two hits for the Association, one of your favorite groups. Thanks again for coming by, Odie, and have a safe trip home!

  17. This was great...I remember Skip and Flip with 'Cherry Pie". It was a very popular song to dance slow to in Kansas City where I grew up. They were almost as good as the Everly Brothers, however, I don't think some of their material was as good as the E Brothers. Now James Brown! As you said, he was the hardest working man in show business! I was fortunate to get to attend one of his concerts, I believe, in 1965. Enjoying your blog-I found you on Southhamsdarling-Thisisme! Good, good info. Have a great evening!

  18. Susan - Hello, my new Texas friend! I have met many wonderful people through Thisisme's blog and, as you have probably noticed, several of them are regular visitors here. If you went to a James Brown concert in 1965 then I envy you because you probably saw him perform his traditional southern R&B material. James Brown had transitioned into his funk and social activism phase by 1968 when I saw him perform at the York Interstate Fair. An unfortunate event took place that same day and I posted about it back in September if you care to take a look:

    Susan, I am thrilled to have you as a new friend. Thank you very much for your visit and your comments. Good night to you and please come again soon!

  19. Wow, Shady! I thought I was sitting at home by the radio on a Saturday morning listening to WNOW's Rock 180 Club or hanging out at the old Disc-O-Rama, next to the Holiday Theater. I had totally forgotten about some of these gems you brought up, and I remember just how teens raved when the "Disc" got rare copies of them. I'm speaking of Scott English's "High On A Hill" and George Goodman's "Let Me Love You". They were treats whenever someone requested them, too. I also forgot about "Chapel Bells". I bought "It Was I" and "Alley-Oop" for 39 cents in used condition at the same five-and-ten. The name Gary "Flip" Paxton was listed on several of my records as either writer and producer, and I always wondered, "Why Flip?". It never occurred to me to reference Skip and Flip. Also were some of my favorite J.B. recordings. I had Bertha Tillman's follow-up record of "I Wish"---equally good, but not as popular as "Oh My Angel". Excellent choices, my friend. Hard to believe you hadn't been a follower of the R180 Club. And great info, too.

    The five-and-ten was on the south side of W. Market St., between S. George and S. Beaver Sts., and it was next to a church. It was either woolworth's or McCrory's. I remember Murphy's was on the northeast corner of the Square.

    I never heard the term "doo-wop" until about twenty years ago. I was thinking of one of the questions you got, and my guess is that it is called that in reference to the phonetic syllables used in most of the songs. "Dip-did-it-did-it", "shoobee-do-shoop-shoop", "rama-lama-ding-dong", etc. That was my two cents worth.

    Beautiful blog, Shady! Have a great week!

  20. Ron, I'm delighted to know that you remember those three Heinz oldies that I posted. All killer - no filler, my friend! I agree that doo-wop was a term that originally referred to the sounds or syllables sung by back-up groups to enhance and punctuate the lead singer's performance. I think the term has a broader use nowadays and includes "teen sound" group harmony style recordings produced during the period from the 50s through the mid 60s. Thank you very much Dell Rat Ron for your contributions and your comments. I'll be seeing you very soon in your next feature and in less than a month in Part 3 of Dueling Doo-Wops! Take care, good buddy!

  21. Hi Tom,
    I turned the volume up and listened to each of these delightful tunes. I have to admit many of them while familiar in tone were not songs I was familiar with. I did get a smile though imagining all the teens slow dancing to the tunes and the little stagger steps and dips they might have taken. And the 14 year old Cathy Jean was reminiscent of Brenda Lee!

    It wasn't until I reached James Brown and then the Mellow Kings that the songs were definitely ones I'd listened to. A very pleasant and easy on the ear and the memory stroll today. Thank you and hugs~

  22. Sush - You are so sweet for taking all these records out for a spin! I hope at least one of them put a song in your heart today. As I prepared this 5-part series with Ron I sifted through hundreds of recordings and ultimately selected only a few, the ones I consider the very best. Some brought back fond childhood memories. Others have no memories attached to them at all because they are brand new to me. It's fun, exciting and rewarding and I'm glad you came over to join the party. Thank you, dear Sush, and have a wonderful day!

  23. Shady, it's good to see you and Ron teaming up again! The Martin Luther King quote about faith is a good one and I'm glad you included it. Some of the songs I don't remember hearing but I enjoyed listening to all of them. The lyric of "High on a hill where troubles were few", was a good one in Scott English's song. I can see how "Let Me Love You" has been called one of the greatest slow dance songs ever made. Bertha Tillman's, "Oh My Angel" was good and I liked your description of "gospel-tinged". You were right. "Cherry Pie" was a good one. In Eddie and the Starlites' song, I liked their long story they shortened in the song: I Need You ☺ Short and sweet and to the point! Interesting story behind the recording of Cathy Jean and the Roommates' "Please Love Me Forever..."roommates" she'd never met for a while. James Brown's, "I Don't Mind", I liked better than "Bewildered". "Chapel Bells" was good and I really enjoyed it. Whew! All that name changing. ;-) You both have done it again, Shady and Ron, you've educated and entertained us. Thank you both for all the hard work and I also understand it is a labor of love!

    P.S. Shady, thank you for your recent concern.

  24. Cindy - Your sadness is mine in the wake of the tragic events that recently unfolded in your hometown. You are a special friend to put that story out of your mind for a while and listen to my oldies jukebox. I hope the music helped to lift your spirits. It was indeed a labor of love. Thank you very much for your visit and thoughtful comments, dear friend Cindy, and please know that my thoughts are with you and your community.


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