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, March 27, 2012

Dueling Doo-Wops, Vol. 5

 Can't stop the rock. 

 Same goes for doo-wop! 

Dell Rat Ron is back to join me in playing the sweet, sincere vocal group harmonies of the baby boom years, recordings that respectfully celebrated young love and romance without playing the sex card.

 Ron, if you don't mind, 

 I'd like to do the honors 

 and kick off Volume 5. 


Sheila Ross and her Baltimore girl group the Royalettes sounded like the female equivalent of Little Anthony and
the Imperials. That's because their recordings were written and produced by Teddy Randazzo, the New York songwriter who penned many songs for the Imperials and produced and arranged several of their albums. The Royalettes achieved their biggest hit in the fall of 1965 with "It's Gonna Take a Miracle." In spite of its mid 60s release date the record has the feel of vintage 50s doo-wop. Teddy Randazzo arranged a full orchestral backing for the recording session. When there are strings attached I usually tune out, but not this time! I could listen to "It's Gonna Take a Miracle" all day every day. If I'm lyin' I'm dyin'!

 "It's Gonna Take a Miracle" - Royalettes (September 1965, 
 highest chart position #41) 

Ron, I got a sneak preview of your first platter. Call me crazy but it also sounds a heck of a lot like Little Anthony and the Imperials!


 And for good reason, Shady. 
 Listening to Jackie and the 
 Starlites in Volume 1 of 
 Dueling Doo-Wops brought 
 this record to mind. It's by 
 a Brooklyn group originally 
 known as The Chesters aka 
 Anthony and The Chesters.  
 It was Little Anthony and the 
 Imperials before they changed 
 their name, signed with End 
 Records, and recorded their 
 first hit "Tears On My Pillow." 
 As The Chesters, Anthony 
 Gourdine and his colleagues 
 recorded the excellent ballad "The Fires Burn No More" 
 and released it in early 1958. The single enjoyed moderate 
 sales in the New York area and was featured on WEEP 
 radio in Pittsburgh. For some reason, possibly inadequate 
 promotion by their label, Apollo, the record stalled and 
 remained uncharted.  I'm sure Jerre knows this one. It 
 wasn't as frequently requested--- but always a treat. 

 "The Fires Burn No More" - The Chesters (February 1958, 



 Now we switch from The Chesters to The Jesters and 

 another record that was requested probably every week 
 on the Rock 180 Club and which was also in the old 
 Dell jukebox. It's a Jerre song called "The Wind." 

 "The Wind" - The Jesters (June 1960, highest chart 

 position #110) 

 WHOA, daddy!

 Is it just my
 Ron... or did 

 Suzanne Somers
 just whiz by
 in a T-Bird?

Call this next segment Heaven Up in Harlem, Ron, because I've got more information about the Jesters plus two more of their records. While performing at an Apollo Theater amateur night, the group was discovered by Paul Winley who signed them to his New York record label. The Jesters did a fine job of covering the recordings of other groups. "The Wind," the wonderful ballad that you just played, was originally recorded by the Diablos. "The Plea" was written by Arlene Smith and turned into a hit by her girl group the Chantels.

 "The Plea" - The Jesters (February 1958, highest 
 position #74) 

The Jesters' recording of "So Strange," a worthy cover of a Five Dollars original, spent just one week on the Billboard pop chart at position #100 and never showed up on the R&B singles chart! So strange, indeed!

 "So Strange" -The Jesters (July 1957, highest 
 position #100) 


The Paragons were another fine R&B group that recorded for Paul Winley. The Brooklyn act was led by Julian McMichael who later joined the Olympics. Paragons recordings have an otherworldly quality that puts me into a trance. A great example is the powerful ballad "Florence," the B side of the Paragons' 1957 release "Hey Little School Girl."

 "Florence" - The Paragons (March 1957, uncharted) 

"Twilight" is the killer bee on the back of the 1958 Winley single "The Vows of Love" which, curiously, was misprinted on the label as "The Wows of Love." With it's soaring falsetto, exquisite group harmony and pounding beat, "Twilight" is simply everything that doo-wop should be!

 "Twilight" - The Paragons (October 1958, uncharted)

A Winley Records' battle-of-the-bands style album entitled The Paragons Meet the Jesters is noteworthy for being one of the first compilation albums ever released. It was also the most successful of all doo-wop compilations. If I was judging these two excellent groups in a head to head competition I'd declare the Paragons the winners and their recording "Don't Cry Baby" as my Pick to Click!

 "Don't Cry Baby" - The Paragons (November 1958, 


Nine years after Tony Bennett released the first hit recording of the song, three years before Bobby Vinton turned it into a #1 smash, and long before director David Lynch used it as the theme of his cult movie, the Paragons recorded a version of "Blue Velvet" that sets the bar higher. As one YouTube commenter exclaimed, "THEY TORE THIS APART AND PUT IT BACK TOGETHER LIKE NO OTHER GROUP!" I agree. I ain't never heard nuthin' like this before! It destroys!

 "Blue Velvet" - The Paragons (September 1960, 

 highest chart position #103) 

Ready for a shocker? Not a single one of the records released by the Jesters or the Paragons ever made the R&B Singles chart! The Jesters, a fine R&B group from Harlem and the Paragons, a superb R&B act from Brooklyn - and neither group was acknowledged by the black music chart? What does that tell you about the credibility of that survey?

 Ron, tossing back to you, pal! 



 Shady, in Volume 3 you featured the 

 Philadelphia group Little Joey and the 
 Flips and their single "Bongo Stomp" 
 which was released on Joy Records. 
 Your post made me flash on Ronnie 
 and the Hi-Lites, another group that 
 had a hit single on that small, inde- 
 pendent New York label. Fronted 
 by 12-year-old Ronnie Goodson 
 and hailing from Jersey City, NJ, 
 the R&B vocal quintet placed two 
 of their records at #1 on WSBA, 
 the first of which was their only career hit "I Wish That 
 We Were Married". 

 "I Wish That We Were Married" - Ronnie and the Hi-Lites 

 (May 1962, highest chart position #16) 

 While "Married" was their only charted hit on the
 Hot 100, Ronnie and the Hi-Lites released many singles, 
 16 in all, and this is one of them. Issued in the summer of 
 1963 on Win Records, "A Slow Dance" got stranded on 
 the Bubbling Under chart but I believe it is every bit as 
 good as their national hit. 

 "A Slow Dance" - Ronnie and the Hi-Lites (August 1963, 

 highest chart position #116) 

 Sadly, Ronnie Goodson died of a brain tumor just as he 

 was entering his 30s. Here's another great single to 
 remember him by, a 1963 cover of "Valarie," originally 
 by Eddie and the Starlites. 

 I read comments on YouTube from people who went to the 

 same high school as the group and remember being wowed 
 by Ronnie and the Hi-Lites when they performed it at an 
 assembly. Pretty impressive! Excellent studio recording! 

 "Valarie" - Ronnie and the Hi-Lites (1963, uncharted) 

 Last call for alcohol, Ron!

 We're in the home stretch and I'm 
 a final flurry of treats that are pure doo- 
 wop delight!  I'd like to propose a toast.  
 Here's to good friends and great music! 


The Duprees, featured in two of my posts last summer, made a career out of mixing doo-wop vocals with 1930s/40s swing era big band arrangements. The Rivieras, a northern Jersey R&B group that recorded for the same New York doo-wop label, Coed, was also successful with that formula. I'd like you to hear their signature song. As "Moonlight Cocktail,"
the song was a #1 hit for bandleader Glenn Miller in 1942.
In 1960, the Rivieras registered on the Bubbling Under chart with their own interpretation of the romantic ballad, re-titled "Moonlight Cocktails." Cheers!

 "Moonlight Cocktails" - The Rivieras (June 1960, highest 
 chart position #103) 


During the 50s and 60s many vocal groups were named after various makes and models of cars. The Cadillacs, Edsels and Impalas are examples. The El Dorados are another.

The El Dorados were one of those 50s doo-wop groups that were more successful with jump sides than they were with ballads. At the end of 1955 the group scored a hit with
"At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama)" which cracked the top 40 on the pop chart and went straight to #1 on the R&B side. The El Dorados had another up tempo hit in the winter of 1956 with the equally catchy "I'll Be Forever Loving You"
a jitterbug gem that missed the pop chart entirely but broke into the top 10 on the black singles survey. As legendary Wibbage jock Joe Niagara used to shout, "Let's hit that floor like never before!"

 "I'll Be Forever Loving You" 
- El Dorados (February 1956, 

 highest chart position #8 R&B) 

 Folks, as The Shields might have 

 put it, I cheated... I lied. 

I've been saying all along that Dueling Doo-Wops is a 5 volume series, but it's been such a success and so much fun to produce that Ron and I are already working on bonus volumes 6, 7 and 8! 

 Part 6 is coming soon.  Don't miss it! 

Have a Shady day!


  1. if I had been alive in the 50's, I think my favorite kind of music would have been doowop. Listening to Twilight makes me instantly think of a school dance, with those 50's skirts and clean cut fellows- sometimes I wish I could have just one day to live in the 50's and here all this great music when it first debuted.

    This was a terrific lineup of music for us today, Shady and Ron, and thank you both for research and putting it together for us to enjoy!

  2. Thanks, Shelly! "Twilight," "Don't Cry Baby" and "Blue Velvet" are my three favorites in this batch, all by the Paragons. As I mentioned in the post these great recordings went unnoticed not only on the pop chart but also on the R&B chart leading me to wonder if the "black" chart has any credibility at all. As I will reveal in a future post artists like Frankie Avalon got their pop ditties to register on the R&B chart but not great groups like the Jesters and Paragons! Go figure! Thank you very much for being the early bird, dear Shelly, and have a wonderful day!

  3. Well Ron & Shady this was an educational experience for this NC boy. I had never heard of any of these groups but really enjoyed all the information bringing me up to speed.
    Personally I am a "Platters" kind of guy so the most enjoyment I got from this episode was during the song while MM was strutting her stuff.
    Like Shelly said, we always appreciate all the work that has to go into researching these groups to let us know how they got started. You guys are awesome. Have a great week.

  4. Hey, Odie! I also enjoyed that video with shots of Marilyn Monroe embedded. I realize that Brooklyn and Harlem are a long way from Carolina and I appreciate the fact that you read up on these groups and gave their recordings a whirl. In an upcoming installment of Dueling Doo-Wops I'll be featuring groups a little closer to home, hailing from the Tidewater area. Thanks again for coming by, good buddy, and enjoy the rest of your week!

  5. Hi there Tom! Just arrived home after a lovely day out with the little ones. The beautiful weather is continuing over here! I'm afraid that I have to grab that Dunce's cap again today, as I hadn't heard of any of these names featured today :( never mind, I still enjoyed listening to them, and I do love doo-wop.

  6. Thisisme - It's hard to believe that people in merry old England are enjoying such a long string of beautiful days. Quite a difference from last spring, isn't it? It seems that our mutual friend Desiree has bowed out of blogging for a while. I can tell because her dunce cap has been gathering dust. You are welcome to wear it until she returns to reclaim it. I'm glad you enjoyed these rare doo-wop gems and I very much appreciate your visit and cheery words. I wish you a pleasant evening, dear friend, and blue skies and sunshine again tomorrow!

  7. this is a favorite genre of music of mine but I hadnt heard of any of these bands. I'm gonna have to come back and listen to more of these tunes but I did get a chance to listen to "So Strange" by The Jesters and quite enjoyed it :) I always enjoy discovering new music via your blog!

  8. Amber Blue Bird - Likewise, I'm sure! The majority of these lost treasures were new to me and fortunately available on YouTube in pristine HD sound quality. That one uploader in particular, the one who only displays the dancing VU meters, has the cleanest audio of anybody! Thanks so much for coming over to my space, dear friend Amber, and I'll be back over in your neck of the woods real soon!

  9. Wow - all of these groups were new to me, but what a treat! Thanks for all of your hard work researching and compiling. It's fun to hear groups and music that you've never been exposed to before! (And yes, I'd love to send some rain your way...)

  10. Hi Tom! (and dell rat ron!)

    There's nothing like a bit of Doo Wop to get the party started!

    It's good to be catching up with the Shady dell, I've been entertaining guests this past week so I've kept blogging to a minimum. I'm excited to get back into the swing of things!

    Hope all is well with you in sunny Fl!

    Emma x

  11. karen (small "k") - Oops! Too late, dear friend. You brought sunshine my way by means of your visit and kind comment! Thank you very much for being here. I hope you read my reply to your previous comment and realize that you and I are both fans of the band Cold Blood. Today's musical menu is from a totally different place and time and yet it seems we both found something to enjoy in it. Wishing you "Moonlight Cocktails" and a safe and happy week, special k!

    Hello, dear Emma! I've been wondering how you're doing, my Irish friend. I hope your foot's all better by now and that you are in good spirits. I also hope that England's fine weather is yours to enjoy over in the Emerald Isle. Thank you for attending our latest doo-wop till you drop function. Please take care, dear Emma, and have a lovely evening and a great week!

  12. Hi, Tom!

    You're right! The Royalettes "It's Gonna Take A Miracle" is so reminiscent of Anthony & The Imperials recordings that I could have easily seen Teddy Randazzo using either group interchangeably for that song. Don't know if you were watching "The Buddy Dean Show" at the time, but the Royalettes were in a talent contest on his show and won a deal with Chancellor Records for their first song, "No Big Thing" which was mainly a regional hit. The Lafayettes, of "Life's Too Short" fame, also had won a battle of the bands contest on his show, and recorded "Life's Too Short". Yes, the show that inspired "Hairspray" was a regular, along with Dick Clark's "American Bandstand", but I was always saddened by the segregation on the show. Most days it was an all-white dancers with Buddy, and about once a month there was an all-black day with a black deejay. I'm glad we're learning that people are all just people.

    I had forgotten most of those Paragons and Jesters songs you played, having borrowed "The Paragons Meet the Jesters" and "The Paragons Vs. the Jesters" from friends. Greg Everhart, via his older brother, and Rock 180 Club introduced me to them. "Florence" was the first one I bought. later buying "Let's Start All Over Again" and "Kneel and Pray' by the Paragons and "Now That You're Gone" by the Jesters. Thank you digging up those buried treasures. The Rivieras were new to me, a little reminiscent of the Platters. Loved seeing Marilyn again---she is missed!

    Have a great week, buddy!


  13. Hi, Ron! Wasn't that a nice performance clip of the Royalettes? I had never seen them before and yes that song could easily have been a hit for the Imperials. Good story about them winning the talent competition on The Buddy Deane Show. I loved both Hairspray movies but the 1988 John Waters original was the one that really nailed early 60s Baltimore and presented the most authentic dancing just like The In Crowd, a teen musical released the same year, nailed mid 60s Philadelphia and Jerry Blavat's Discophonic Scene. As you know Blavat was a huge fan of doo-wop and released a couple of albums by the Paragons and Jesters:

    Thanks so much for swinging on in, Ron, and I'll see you in our next Dueling Doo-Wops soon!

  14. Hi Shady- Gone all day with Mom, but I finally got here. My favorites in this line-up are 'It's Gonna Take a Miracle', 'Moonlight Cocktails' and 'The Wind Lake'. The 12 year-old Ronnie of the Hi-Lites had an incredible voice. I loved the tune and singing in 'I Wish That We Were Married' but not the words so much. They were a great group.

    The only song I knew was 'Blue Velvet'. I've always loved that song. It's beautiful. Thanks for the fun time listening! Have a lovely Wednesday tomorrow, sweet friend.

  15. Hello, dear Belle! You touched on some of my favorites as well as Ron's. I've had "Gonna Take a Miracle" in my CD collection for some 20 years now and never get tired of hearing it. "Moonlight Cocktails" is a record I got to know in the late 60s when I got caught up in the oldies revival. "Blue Velvet" has been recorded by many people and always reminds me of David Lynch's disturbing movie but the Paragons' interpretation of the song is the best I've ever heard. Thank you very much for your visit and comments, dear friend Belle, and I'll be checking out your latest comic in just a few.

  16. Hi Shady - Is there a list of Fillmore bands you wanted me to see? (I feel like I'm being dense here - not sure what you wanted me to check) If you wanted me to list some of my faves, I'll do my best to think who they were/are in between working (yes, sadly, I do still have to work... Boooo) And sometimes it's hard to remember when it isn't right in front of you. Send me a list and we'll compare! Right now it's the obvious: Cold Blood and Jefferson Airplane. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin. And I know many others. Let me think...

  17. No, sweet friend. Not here. Click back to comments on my previous post and you'll see my latest reply. I'm sorry I confused you. Thanks, kiddo! (small "k")

  18. Hi Shady and Ron, I was late getting to this addition but wanted to say it was another great list of DooWops. Ron was correct and I did know the Chesters song. However, I didn't know they were the Imperials. Ron did find one I did not know and that was "A Slow Dance". "Twilight" and "Blue Velvet" are 2 of my favorites and as always you guys provided great background and trivia on the old groups. Love these sessions and look forward to the future issues.


  19. Hi, Jerre! I'm glad you got to see this post and hear these lost doo-wop treasures. Ron will be pleased to know that you recognized the one by the Chesters as he predicted you would. I'm also glad we agree on two of the killers that I posted by the Paragons. Best of all you now know that there are three more exciting installments of the Dueling Doo-Wops series yet to come! Thanks so much for visiting, reading and listening, good buddy, and please take care!

  20. Thank you for stopping by...It is always wonderful to hear from you x

  21. Hi, Gingeyginge! I appreciated the words of wisdom offered in your latest blog post, dear friend. I also appreciate your visits here to my site where you are always welcome. Enjoy the rest of your weekend in England, dear Gingey!

  22. Mr Knight...Happy Sunday! It only took me 5 tries to get here today. Sad to say, I didn't recognize most of your Doo Wop groups today, but thoroughly enjoyed it. I do remember Ronnie and the Hi-Lites, 'Valerie' was one of those smooth, slow-dance tunes that you don't want to good! And, even tho I didn't know the Paragons-WOW! They were good. Sounds like so many great groups fell thru the cracks in the late 50's. Blue Velvet was Bobby Vinton's hit, but, The Paragons brought out the true meaning of the song, didn't they?
    I've listened to some Doo Wop, but don't always recognize some of the songs. Thanks for bringing this selection out of the closet.

    Your videos were fantastic! I really enjoyed the 'So Strange' and 'El Dorado' videos.
    See you soon!♫

  23. Hello, dear Susan! I just realized you probably came back here to have a look at this post. I'm glad I checked. I absolutely agree that the Paragons are terrific. Their recordings have an otherworldly quality. I can't understand why they and many other excellent R&B groups failed to register on the R&B chart when vanilla artists like Bobby Vinton and Frankie Avalon did! It's so unfair! Thank you very much for being such a great friend, dear Susan, and have a wonderful week down Texas way!

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