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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dueling Doo-Wops, Vol. 3


 Rat Ron's back and he's packing 

 stax o' wax. (Say that 5 times fast!)  

 Ron and I along with Mr. Peabody and Sherman 
 are ready to hop into the Wayback Machine and 
 revisit some of the greatest seldom heard snugglers 
 of the pre-Beatles era. Return with us now to those 
 thrilling days of yesteryear when doo-wops ruled! 

 Ron, if you don't mind 
 I'd like to kick off the 
 festivities with one of 
 the best known names 
 in the biz - Dion. 



Some dismissed him as just another flash in the pan teenage idol, but Dion DiMucci proved them wrong the same way that Ricky Nelson proved them wrong. Both were the real deal.

Growing up in an Italian American family in the Bronx, Dion was influenced by rock and roll and rhythm and blues. He assimilated both genres, produced his own unique blend of New York style pop, rock and doo-wop, and became one of the most popular singers of the Eisenhower and Kennedy years, influencing many other performers.

Bob and Gene Schwartz signed Dion and his friends the Belmonts to their new Laurie record label and put the two acts together in the studio. From the spring of 1958 until
the fall of 1959, Dion and the Belmonts released half a dozen charting singles, achieving three top 40 hits and a top 5 hit, "Teenager in Love."

The early success of Dion and the Belmonts landed them a spot on the ill fated Winter Dance Party Tour. On February 2nd, 1959, after a concert in Clear lake, Iowa, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper invited Dion to fly with them to their next gig. Dion declined because he couldn't afford the $36 cost of the flight. The plane crashed killing
all on board... the day the music died.

Dion and the Belmonts reaped their biggest hit with "Where or When" which went to #3 early in 1960. I already featured that record in a previous post but I'd like you to hear the killer bee, "That's My Desire."

"That's My Desire" - Dion and the Belmonts (March 1960, 
uncharted B side of "Where or When") 

In 1960 Dion split from the Belmonts and began a solo career, finding success with his first release "Lonely Teenager."

"Lonely Teenager" - Dion (January 1961, highest chart 
position #12) 

More hits followed, including Dion's best known recordings "Runaround Sue" and "The Wanderer." In 1962 Dion rocked out with "Little Diane," a top 10 record that featured the Del Satins accompanying Dion and a distinctive hook in the form of a kazoo solo!

"Little Diane" - Dion (Aug. 1962, highest chart position #8) 

 Ron, looks like your first spin is another 

 golden goodie by York's own R&B group 
 the Quin-Tones!  Don't delay - Play away! 

 "Now, I say to you today my friends, even 
 though we face the difficulties of today and 
 tomorrow, I still have dream. It is a dream 
 deeply rooted in the American dream. I have 
 a dream that one day this nation will rise up 
 and live out the true meaning of its creed: 
 we hold these truths to be self-evident, 
 that all men are created equal." 
 - Martin Luther King, Jr. 


 Shady, it's time to pick up 
 where we left off with the 
 story of the Quin-Tones, 
 five vocalists and a key- 
 boardist who achieved a 
 national hit in 1958 with 
 their second 45rpm release 
 "Down the Aisle of Love." 
 The success of that single 
 multiplied opportunities for 
 the Quin-Tones. They did 
 more touring and made a 
 guest appearance on 
 American Bandstand
 The Quin-Tones' most 
 memorable gig took place 
on Saturday night, August 23rd, 1958 at the Apollo Theater 
 when they shared the stage with famous acts that included 
 the Coasters, the Olympics, the Danleers, the Spaniels 
 and the Chantels and received a standing ovation. 

 Riding high as a result of their hit record, "Down the Aisle 
 of Love," and still in a position to benefit from a national 
 distribution deal with ABC Records, the Quin-Tones 
 hoped to repeat their success with a follow-up single. 
 However, their third release, "There'll Be No Sorrow," 
 did not make the national charts even though it appeared 
 on the top tunes surveys of radio stations throughout the 
 mid-Atlantic region. 

"There'll Be No Sorrow" - Quin-Tones 
(September 1958, uncharted) 

 The killer bee, "What Am To Do," was another sweet 
 ballad that came and went unnoticed. 

"What Am I To Do" - Quin-Tones (November 1958, uncharted) 

 Ron, let me interrupt 
 you here to add that 
 our Quin-Tones have 
 been called a cross 
 between the Chantels 
 and the Bobbettes. 


The Bobbettes were an early R&B girl group from Spanish Harlem. The girls killed at the Apollo, attracted a manager, got an Atlantic recording contract and in 1957 scored a
#1 charting R&B/top 10 pop hit with the tongue-in-cheek novelty record "Mr. Lee." In so doing the Bobbettes were the first girl group to achieve that degree of crossover success. A derivative recording, "I Shot Mr. Lee" became a minor hit for the Bobbettes, but neither of those jump tempo records can touch the power of the group's churchy doo-wop ballad "The Dream."

"The Dream" - Bobbettes (1958, uncharted) 


Led by classically trained Arlene Smith, The Chantels from The Bronx, NY were the next girl group after the Bobbettes to achieve nationwide success. "Maybe" and "Look in My Eyes" were the Chantels' biggest crossover hits but I'm shattered every time I listen to this one, the devotional, gospel drenched "Every Night (I Pray)."

"Every Night (I Pray)" - Chantels (May 1958, highest 
chart position #39, R&B #16) 

 Ron, the ball's back in 
 your court, my friend.
 Play us some hardcore 
 sock hop doo-wop! 




 Shady, I agree with those who 
 compare the Quin-Tones with 
 the Bobbettes and Chantels and 
 I think The Quints were as hot 
 as those more famous girl groups! 
 Speaking of the Chantels, here's 
 a recording that I never knew 
 existed until recentlywhere the 
 original Chantels and the Jive Five 
 do a cover of Lenny Miles's "Don't 
 Believe Him Donna."  I may prefer 
 Lenny Miles's version a little better, 
 but just to hear these two fabulous groups TOGETHER is 
 a real treat! 

"Don't Believe Him Donna" - The Jive Five with special guests 
Arlene Smith & The Chantels (1982) 

 I know how much Jerre likes the Jive
 Five and in this 
 live performance they sing their two biggest hits. 

"My True Story"/"What Time Is It" (live) - The Jive Five 

 Ron, let me give Jerre 

 a high five with more 

 Jive Five. 

Here's a seldom heard gem by Eugene Pitt's Brooklyn vocal group. "Rain (Makes My Baby Cry)," with a melody derived from that fall 1962 hit "What Time Is It," was released as a single in the spring of 1963 and registered for just one week near the bottom of Billboard's Bubbling Under chart. Shady's Law applies. "Rain" is a great record that deserved more chart action back then and deserves to be heard right now!

"Rain (Makes My Baby Cry)" - The Jive Five (April 1963, 

highest chart position #128)

 Those last three songs have inspired me 

 to play a quick game of Six Degrees with 
 Jerre's Jive Five by connecting them with 
 two other great groups! 


The Jive Five always makes me think of The Jive Bombers,
a jazzy, bluesy New York City R&B group that recorded for Savoy Records, the Newark, NJ label that played a key role in popularizing bebop. The Jive Bombers' biggest hit, "Bad Boy," can be traced back to 1936 when the song was written and recorded by Louis Armstrong's second wife, Lil Armstrong.

The Jive Bombers originally recorded the song as "Brown Boy" but changed it to "Bad Boy" for release on Savoy in 1957. Lead singer Clarence Palmer renders the song in a lazy, offbeat style and comes across sounding very much like Satchmo!

"Bad Boy" - The Jive Bombers (April 1957, highest 
chart position #36 Hot 100, #7 Black Singles


The Jive Five told "My True Story." For the Nutmegs, a group from New Haven, Connecticut, theirs was a "Story Untold." Led by tenor Leroy Griffin, whose ardent vocals are among the finest in all of doo-wop, the Nutmegs watched their single climb all the way to #2 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart during the summer of 1955, yet it never showed up on the white dominated pop chart. The Nutmegs' popularity was confined primarily to the East Coast and Northeast and they never achieved widespread crossover success. That reality notwithstanding, their "Story Untold" is regarded as one of the greatest doo-wop recordings of the 50s.

"Story Untold" - The Nutmegs (August 1955, highest 

chart position #2 R&B) 

The Nutmegs followed "Story Untold" with another R&B hit, "Ship of Love," which includes a spoken passage.

"Ship of Love" - The Nutmegs (October 1955, highest 

chart position #13 R&B) 



In the fall of 1961 the Dovells flirted with the #1 chart spot with "Bristol Stomp." In the summer of 1962 that hit sound and stompin' beat were back on the radio in a shamelessly derivative recording called "Bongo Stomp" by another Philly act called Little Joey and the Flips. The group rerecorded "Bongo Stomp" from a demo of theirs which was originally called "African Twist."

Cameo-Parkway, Swan and other Philly labels rejected the record before Eddie Joy released the single on his Joy label and achieved a top 40 hit.

"Bongo Stomp" - Little Joey and the Flips (July 1962, 

highest chart position #33) 

 Ron, it's been great fun

 playing doo-wop gold with 

 you again today.  There 

 are two more exciting 

 volumes yet to come, 

 so please stay close! 

Have a Shady day!


  1. Ever since doo-wop has been highlighted here, I've been tuning over to the 50's station from time to time and listening, and I now have a much better appreciation and understanding of doo-wop. Thank you!

    I didn't realize Dion was so close to being on the fateful plane ride that night. Gosh, that was close.

    Another wonderful lineup of songs I wouldn't have heard any other way. I am struck by how very YOUNG the Bobbettes looked.

    Thank you both for this musical treat today!

  2. Hi, Shelly! I wasn't aware of Dion's close call either until I did my research. What a fateful decision it was! As our doo-wop series continues you'll encounter other examples of very young performers, even pre-teen age, that made some of the best known recordings of the genre. I'm thrilled to know that these posts are getting you interested in doo-wop. I admit that I'm getting spoiled, too. These old songs evoke memories of a world that no longer exists. It's a world that I miss. Thank you very much for stopping by, dear friend Shelly, and have a wonderful week!

  3. As Shelly said, another wonderful lineup of songs and once again all the names were unknown to me but I sure enjoyed listening to all of them especially Dion, the Chantels & the Nutmegs. Since I was born in 47 I was still kind of young at that time and was probably spending most of my time in the woods instead of listening to music. Have a great week guys and thanks.

  4. Hi, Odie! I was too young to pay attention to most of these records the first time around. In my 20s, however, I got curious and became an avid collector of music from this period and even earlier. There's a wealth of great material to discover and I'm proud to present some of it in this series. Thanks for dropping by, good buddy, and have a great week!

  5. Isn't it amazing how even though Odie, you and I are much of an age (three to eight years difference), our musical tastes/memories/exposure/patterns were (are!) all so different. While Odie was enjoying exploring the woods, I, at eight years younger was enjoying a carefree childhood and you were dancing up a storm at the Shady Dell. I do recognise a couple of today's songs. My parents must have listened to these on the radio. I remember my Dad enjoying Buddy Holly (sad ending to his life!) and I recall "That's My Desire" as one I heard reasonably often. I also recognised "Rain Makes My Baby Cry". I enjoyed hearing "My True Story" and may have heard that too, as a child. Although I'd previously read your side bar, I read it again today and I can now understand a little better the origin of the passion you have for The Shady Dell and the music of that era. The Ettlines must have been a remarkable couple and, were they still alive today, I think they'd be both honoured and touched that you felt sufficiently moved to try to recapture and revive, in some small way, the wonderful times you spent as a Dell Rat. You demonstrate reverently through your blog how much you appreciated the influence they had on all of you. In a way, your blog is a shrine to the memory of a place now forgotten. I hope you're having a marvellous day in Florida. It's been an awfully windy day, here! We're hoping it might rain tomorrow or the day after.

  6. Desiree - Hello, dear friend! It's true. I am passionate about the Shady Dell and I'm glad it shows. For years I toyed with the idea of starting a blog about the Dell. Finally, in the summer of 2008, I gave myself the push needed to jump in and give it a go. At the time there was very little information about the Dell available online. The place, the people and the unique blend of songs that became popular there were all in danger of being forgotten. I couldn't let that happen. The Ettlines were extraordinary people. They shaped the lives of countless young people over a period of nearly five decades. Theirs was, as the Nutmegs would have put it, a story untold. Somebody needed to tell it. Somebody needed to keep the memory of the Ettlines and the Dell alive. Nobody else was doing it so I asked myself the empowering questions, "Why not you? Why not now?" Thank you for understanding what I'm up to here, dear friend Desiree. I am very touched by your thoughtful comments and wish you a safe and happy week!

  7. Hi Tom. I so agree with Desiree that your passion for The Shady Dell really does shine through your blog, and you are also keeping the memory of the Ettlines alive. We have all come to know that they really were an inspirational couple, especially to all the teenagers who went to The Shady Dell at that time. I always love it how you honour their birthdays on your blog. I have always loved Dion, especially The Wanderer and Runaround Sue. Teenager in Love was a big hit over here for Marty Wilde. It was really good to see those wonderful words from Martin Luther King's amazing speech. I can still remember him giving that speech on the television in black and white. I had never heard that story before about Dion almost getting on the plane that killed Buddy Holly and the others. I can't believe, either, that I had never heard Little Diane before!!! It has turned very cold over here. Just 5 degrees this morning. Brrr! I don't like it. Take care dear friend.

  8. Thisisme - You don't hear many rock 'n' roll songs with kazoo solos in them, do you? (LOL) I am posting a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. every time Ron talks about the Quin-Tones of York, PA. The reason for this is because it was a long uphill battle to get this fine group recognized by their high school's Hall of Fame and it reminded me of the struggle for Civil Rights in America. I assume that you mean it's 5 degrees Celsius in England. That converts to 41 degrees Fahrenheit which is quite chilly. The temperature dropped that low here in Florida a few nights ago. I hope you didn't mean 5 degrees F! Like Desiree's, your kind remarks warm my heart, dear friend Thisisme. Thank you very much for coming over. I wish you a very happy afternoon, evening and week!

  9. Hi Tom, You and Ron did it again. I thought I had heard all the Jive Five releases, but was wrong again. You guys found their version of Don't Believe Him Donna. I have the original version on 45 and I'm not sure which I like more. I missed the live Doo Wop show in Pittsburgh, but did watch it on PBS TV out of Hershey. They have done a great job of getting some of the good old Doo Wop groups back together. Have a great holiday.


  10. Hi, Jerre! I'm shocked to learn that Ron managed to find a Jive Five track that you didn't know about. It would have been a thrill to attend that Doo-Wop show in Pittsburgh but it's been played over and over again on PBS. I'm always amazed at how well some of those really old groups still perform. Eddie Holman was interviewed in conjunction with his appearance in one of those shows and credited clean living as the reason why his vocal instrument still sounds as good today as it did in the 60s. Thank you very much for looking and listening, Jerre. Stay tuned for the next edition of Dueling Doo-Wops in early January!

  11. Tom and Ron, I think I will start out first by thanking you both for all the time and effort on this wonderful post. These tunes are not ringing a bell with me but that means I learned some new things today. ☺ I truly enjoyed listening to all the songs! Interesting that Dion missed the plane and I have noticed, Tom, when you refer to this incident you use the phrase "the day the music died". A lot of truth in that statement. Loved the novelty of the kazoo solo in "Little Diane". I was happy to read again the timeless words of Martin Luther King and your reasoning behind it. There were several songs here with "heavenly overtones": There'll Be No Sorrow, The Dream and stretching it a little bit, "Ship of Love". Lots of praise songs in "secular" songs when you think about it. The wholesome group photos of the Bobbettes were a welcomed sight to me. I liked the sound of rain drops in "Rain (Makes me Cry)" and the gurgling water sound in "Ship of Love". The lively "Bongo Stomp" was good!

    While searching for the lyrics of "The Dream", I could not nail down the exact lyrics or the writer. Does anyone know who wrote this song?

    TOM and RON:

    «:::THANK YOU:::»
    «::: THANK YOU:::»

  12. Cindy - I've searched the internet in all the same places that you probably did and I honestly don't know who wrote the song "The Dream" which was recorded by The Bobbettes. I do know that it was the B side of a rather obscure Atlantic Records single that had "Um Bow Bow" on the A side. Both tracks were laid down in NYC on February 17, 1958. It's very possible that one of the group members penned the song or perhaps it was their record producer/manager James Dailey. All I know is that I strongly preferred their gospel tinged ballads to their up tempo novelty material. My taste is music is eclectic. I love rowdy rock but I also love and respect songs with religious overtones, those that are just inches across the line dividing secular from gospel. Most Dell rats felt the same way. Thank you dear friend Cindy, for proving once again that you always come here to listen and learn. It's a commitment that I greatly appreciate! Have a safe and happy week, Cindy!

  13. I well remember Dion, Shady. Loved his music. I'm afraid I've never heard any of the other songs, but I liked Bad Boy the best. He did sound a bit like Satchmo - better actually! I also like the quote from Dr. King. He was an inspiration to me as a young girl. I can see now the magazines and newspapers with the pictures of his peace marches and sit ins. My parents admired him greatly.

  14. I love that Dion album cover. Those pink gloves hugging him are hilarious. Luckily his music is so good that I can overlook the cover and just concentrate on his smooth voice. The Chantels happen to be one of my fave groups. So stoked you included them on your list. I cant believe Every Night (I Pray)only hit #39. That song should have gone all the way to top.

  15. Belle - I like how you touched on a few new things in your comments. Dion performed in a variety of styles beyond doo-wop including rock 'n' roll, pop and folk. I'm sure you remember his 1968 hit "Abraham, Martin and John." By the same token The Jive Bombers recorded jazz influenced R&B. Nevertheless I wanted to include both acts in this doo-wop series because they made great recordings that deserve to be remembered. I vividly recall Dr. King's speeches as well as the day he was assassinated. I remember Diana Ross and the Supremes appearing on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show the next evening and sobbing over the slaying. I wanted to post the quotes of Dr. King because his powerful words helped bring about change. Sadly, decades later, I believe some of that progress has eroded... lost to apathy. Thank you so much for delighting me with you visit and comments, dear Belle. Enjoy your afternoon and evening in Kelowna!

  16. Girly Bird (the artist formerly known as Amber Blue Bird) - Hello, dear friend! It's sheer coincidence that I was slated to publish this particular post long before you published your Shangri-las play list on Friday and their cover of "Maybe." Yes, the Chantels had angelic voices. So did the Bobbettes on their ballads as well as The Quin-Tones, the local act from the White Rose City of York. It's a sound that I never get tired of hearing. Thank you very much for reporting in, dear friend Amber. Have a wonderful week... hug Oliver... and don't forget to throw Kevin a bone now and then!

  17. Based on Desiree's and Thisisme's comments, I can see that you are doing an excellent job communicating the meaning of John and Helen Ettline and how they contributed to the world by having the Shady Dell, and creating empathy with many more who had their own version of The Dell elsewhere. I enjoy the discoveries and comparisons of all of our different exposures to music as well. I thank you for showing me a side of the Bobettes I hadn't known and the Jive Bombers song "Bad Boy" was definitely written for Satchmo. It was as if he were singing it, or better. All the Dion songs were favorites of mine, especially "That's My Desire" which hit the lower 30's on WSBA's Top 40 for a week or two, making it one of my favorites at the time. Since then, The Channels (pronounced like the perfume #5) version on Gone Records is just as good. I briefly had "Little Diane", but my copy was defective, so I exchanged it for something different. With vinyl, I quickly learned that the same skips frequently occurred in records from the same part of a production run. During the summer of 1962, "Bongo Stomp" was one of my most played records. Kudos, buddy!

    P.S. Also was glad I stumbled across a Jive Five song that was unheard of by a man who knows many more of their songs than I ever did.


  18. Ron - I thought Dell Rat Jerre owned or at least knew about every Jive Five song ever recorded. I'm glad that you stumbled across one he didn't know, although I hope you didn't fall and hurt yourself. How well I remember buying brand new records that sounded scratchy and hissy from the start. Some labels were worse than others. During my recent years as a record collector I learned to buy promotional DJ copies because they were slightly thicker and pressed on higher quality stock for radio play. They cost more on eBay but they're worth it. There are still two more volumes of Dueling Doo-Wops in the pipeline, Ron, and your next feature is on it's way as well. Thanks for your comments, good buddy!

  19. When my oldest brother was a teenager and I was just a wee las, he used to comb his hair in the mirror while I watched and sing to himself "The Wanderer". He loved that song. Forgot about that until reading your bit on here. Thanks! Great post.

  20. Bouncin' Barb - Your brother's behavior brings to mind two famous television icons: Gerald Lloyd "Kookie" Kookson III (Edd Byrnes) on 77 Sunset Strip and Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli aka "The Fonz" (Henry Winkler) on Happy Days. As you might recall both breakout characters loved to comb their hair in the mirror. Thank you very much for coming to see me, BB, and enjoy the rest of your evening in North Myrtle Beach!

  21. Hi Tom...I wrote a long comment and it seems to have not made it here! I'll briefly try to recap:
    Loved the Dion
    I am not up to date on many of the groups here but enjoyed toe tapping to them.
    Do Not Like Run Around Sue as it had negative sound to the name. Sush was derived from Susie, which was derived from Susan. I was never called Sue, but still felt it was a tagalong to my name. Def not a runaround, lol!
    It's funny how no matter when in the fifties we were born we all love that era of music and know so many of the songs..

  22. Hi, Sush! I'm sorry your long comment got lost and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to start over and compose another one. I've often wondered about you name. Thank you for explaining its derivation. I promise that I'm not going out of my way to agree with you but Dion's two best known hits, "Runaround Sue" and "The Wanderer" are my two least favorite recordings by him partly because they promote those shallow male and female stereotypes and mostly because I'm just tired of hearing them so often. Thank you very much for expressing yourself here, dear friend Sush! Have a wonderful evening way up north in Carolina.

  23. Ok, so I struggled the first time with the title! I didn't realise that Dion was due to be on that ill-fated plane.. I also think I may have to try and get hold of a copy of Lil Diane for Thisisme's jukebox!! It's her to a T!
    Thanks for another great post. Big hugs to you all over there from all of us over here :)

  24. Hi, Emma! It's so nice of your to come over to see me and listen to my old old oldies. That's right! That Diane song belongs on mum's jukebox, doesn't it? (LOL) Although these recordings were made light years before you were born I hope that you enjoyed a few and I certainly appreciate your visit. Good night to you in Paris, dear friend!

  25. Nice to meet you Shady Del Knight! Oh, and I would like to thank you for the comment you left on my blog, that was mighty kind of you, sir! I really enjoyed this post, and your whole blog itself. So, I will definately be tuning in for more posts. Oh, and I see you have a youtube, I am offically a subscriber!(:

  26. Hello, Presley, and welcome to Shady Dell Music & Memories! I'm so glad I checked back to this post one last time tonight and found your sweet comment. I am elated to have somebody as knowledgeable as you join my blog. I also thank you for subscribing to my YouTube channel which I established primarily to upload videos that I created to run on the blog. I think you're going to like it here. I make it a point to reply to every comment that I receive because I deeply appreciate my friends and respect the time it took them to read my long posts and listen to the songs. I will be in and out of blogging during the holidays but back to full participation in early January. You are a gifted young woman and I am eager for us to become friends. Thank you again for coming over, Presley, and enjoy the rest of your weekend!


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