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, August 28, 2012

Double Overtime! The First of Two Bonus Editions of Dueling Doo-Wops!

 That's right!  We're heading into 

 double O.T. with Volume 6, the 

 first of TWO extra posts devoted 

 exclusively to doo-wop! 

Our Dueling Doo-Wops series is aimed at bringing you some
of the best seldom heard group harmony recordings of the 1950s and 60s. Dell Rat Ron Shearer joins us again with platters aplenty and I brought along my own boss batch!

 Ron, if you don't mind, 

 I'd like first serve. 

It's important to remember that some of the greatest
doo-wop was made by singers who were teenage or even younger. My first Pick to Click is an excellent example.


The Six Teens were not six teens, at least not in 1956 when they started making records. The Los Angeles based group consisted of five teenagers plus 12 year old Trudy Williams.

As the story goes, little Trudy merely tagged along to the studio to watch her older sister and the others make a record. She wound up being appointed lead singer of the group! (I can just hear Jay & the Americans singing "Only in America, land of opportunity.") Originally calling themselves The Sweet Teens, the group released a single that failed to chart. Later that year they released a second record using The Six Teens as their name and scored a hit. "A Casual Look" went top 50 on the Billboard pop chart, top 40 on the Cash Box survey, and cracked the top 10 on the R&B chart. Young Trudy's voice was pure and virtuous and even though "A Casual Look" culminates with a girl becoming a teenage bride it is, by modern standards, a sweet, innocent record -
a far cry from today's sly, slick and wicked gutter sludge.

 "A Casual Look" - The Six Teens (August 1956, highest 
 chart position #48 Hot 100, #38 Cash Box, #7 R&B) 


They're the R&B vocal group that recorded "Close Your Eyes," The Mother of All Dell Songs and the #1 record on my list of the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell. The Five Keys from Newport News, Virginia, were already seasoned veterans in 1955 when they waxed that hit for Capitol Records. In 1951, recording for Aladdin, the group achieved a #1 R&B hit with their version of "Glory of Love," a 1936 chart topper by Benny Goodman. For some reason all 18 of their other Aladdin singles sold poorly. As you'll realize when you listen to the beautiful ballad "Teardrops in Your Eyes," the Five Keys' spotty success had absolutely nothing to do with quality.

 "Teardrops in Your Eyes" - The Five Keys (1953, uncharted) 

The Five Keys' follow-up release makes my eyes roll back 

in my head. It's one of the finest R&B love songs of the 50s - passionate pleading, crying, sweating, feeling... it's all here 
in "My Saddest Hour."

 "My Saddest Hour" - The Five Keys (1953, uncharted) 

 Ron, the ball's in your court! 


 Shady, when I heard the 

 Safaris sing "Image of a 
 Girl" back in Volume 1 
 of Dueling Doo-Wops
 I flashed on a song by 
 the G-Clefs that was on 
 the charts a year later. 
 It had been more than 
 five years (1956) since 
 the Roxbury, Mass 
 doo-wop group achieved 
 a minor hit with a jumper 
 entitled "Ka-Ding Dong." 
 The group returned to the 
 charts in 1961 with the 
 bigger hit "I Understand 
 (Just How You Feel)," a song that had been recorded in 
 1954 and made into a hit by The Four Tunes and June Valli. 
 The G-Clefs went top ten with their cover and England's 
 Freddie & the Dreamers cracked the top 40 with their 
 rendition in 1965. "I Understand" is sung to the familiar 
 melody of  "Auld Lang Syne" and the G-Clefs record, 
 released in September 1961, remained popular all the way 
 through the Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year holidays. 

 "I Understand (Just How You Feel)" - The G-Clefs 

 (December 1961, highest chart position #9) 


 As you know, Shady, the original O'Jays were favorites in 

 the York-Lancaster-Harrisburg area, their records covered 
 by the Delchords and many other groups. They also played 
 on the same bills as the Magnificent Men and the Soul Clinic 
 as well as were backed up by those bands.  Here is one of 
 their most popular songs from those days. Unfortunately, 
 very few of these classic O'Jay songs are included in any 
 collections except imports, high-priced and not remastered. 

 "You're On Top" - O'Jays (July 1964, uncharted) 

 Ron, the juice 

 is on the loose! 

As long as we're sampling the O'Jays I'd like to spin another record by the veteran soul group.  It's a genuine lost relic, one that predates the O'Jays' first Imperial classic "Lonely Drifter." It's "Crack Up Laughing," the killer bee on the back of "That's the Way I Feel," a record originally released in 1961 on King Records when the group was known as the Mascots and reissued in 1963 on both the Little Star and Imperial labels. Enjoy the very early sound of the O'Jays!

 "Crack Up Laughing" - The O'Jays (July 1963, uncharted) 



Singer, songwriter, producer and composer Barry De Vorzon was another of those behind the scenes guys responsible for hit records released by other artists. Barry composed the 1960 hit "Dreamin'" for singer Johnny Burnette along with the delicate "Nadia's Theme," the Grammy Award winning theme from the daytime drama The Young and the Restless.

Barry De Vorzon also founded Valiant Records, the label that signed the Association. He wrote "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight" (an entirely different song from the Boyce and Hart composition) and offered it to a group called the Cascades. When they turned down the song, Barry adopted a d.i.y. mindset, formed his own West Coast trio called Barry and the Tamerlanes, and recorded it himself. The result was a cool, up tempo doo-wop record that entered the Billboard top 30 the day after the assassination of President Kennedy.

 "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight" - Barry and the 
 Tamerlanes (December 1963, highest chart position #21) 


"Popsicles and Icicles," a song written by David Gates who later formed and fronted the group Bread, began its chart run that same dark day, November 23rd, 1963, on its way to a top 5 finish in the winter of '64. The Murmaids were a trio of Los Angeles teenagers made up of the Fischer sisters, Carol and Terry, along with their neighborhood friend Sally Gordon. The Murmaids' dreamy girl group ballad, written and recorded before the tragic events unfolded in Dallas, serves as a grim reminder of the innocence America lost that day and never regained.

 "Popsicles and Icicles" - Murmaids (January 1964, highest 

 chart position #3) 

 Ron, I see you in the on deck circle 

 waiting to spin wax by one of 

 Dell Rat Jerre's favorite artists! 


 Shady, you and I both remember Pittsburgh native 
 Tommy Hunt, formerly of the Flamingos, singing his hit 
 song "Human" at the Dell night after night.  Jerre ranked 
 "Human" as his #1 Dell song.  Ironically, Scepter Records 
 released "Human" as the B side of that Tommy Hunt single.  
 I used to listen to "The Parade of Broken Hearts" never 
 knowing it was the A-side. (Not at my house, it wasn't.) 

 "The Parade of Broken Hearts" - Tommy Hunt 
 (October 1961, A side of "Human") 

 As much as I love Tommy Hunt's "Human", there is one 

 other song of his I love just as much. I recall that it was 
 the second record released after "Human." The song, 
 "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself," was 
 written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Soul diva 
 Dionne Warwick recorded it later (1966) and had a top 
 30 hit, but I thought it mediocre compared to this one.

 "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself"  - Tommy Hunt 
 (August 1964, highest chart position #119) 

Speaking of Tommy Hunt's group, the Flamingos, Ron, did you ever hear the story behind the making of "Lovers Never Say Goodbye," one of their best known hits? Have a CMP on the house while I play this next clip.


The Flamingos reinvented themselves in the mid 60s with the Dell smash "The Boogaloo Party" but they are best known for their doo-wop output during the 50s. Here's the story of how the group came up with the title of their first pop hit.

 "Lovers Never Say Goodbye" - Flamingos (March 1959, 

 highest chart position #52 Hot 100, #25 R&B) 

 Ron, just for a change, I thought you and 

 the gang might enjoy a little Cello music! 


Here's a genuine doo-wop doublesider for you! Best known for the up tempo side of their lone hit record, the Cellos' artistry with the ballad might be doo-wop's best kept secret. The New York R&B group made a decent dent in the Billboard pop chart (#62) with their jitterbug beat version of "I'm the Japanese Sandman," a frequently covered song written in 1920. Legal issues required Apollo Records to change the song title to "Rang Tang Ding Dong (I Am the Japanese Sandman)" thereby hampering record sales because fans searched in vain for the original "Japanese Sandman" title. Listen to an excellent example of a black doo-wop group 

with an updated sound that appealed to the rock and roll generation.

 "Rang Tang Ding Dong (I Am the Japanese Sandman)" 

 - The Cellos (June 1957, highest chart position #62) 

A perfect complement to "Sandman" is the dreamy flip side, "You Took My Love."

 "You Took My Love" - The Cellos (June 1957, uncharted 

 B side of "Rang Tang Ding Dong" 

 Now let's wrap up our platter party 

 with a Chi-town stomper! 


Central Pennsylvania had its Magnificent Men. Chicago had its Magnificents. In 1956 the vocal group lead by tenor Johnny Keyes scored a top 10 R&B hit with the jump side 

"Up on the Mountain." Their uncharted, seldom heard "Don't Leave Me" is superb up-tempo late 50s doo-wop. Listen at your own risk. It could lead to a Magnificents obsession!

 "Don't Leave Me" - The Magnificents (1958, uncharted) 

 Thank you Dell Rat Ron 

 for playing Dueling Doo-Wops 

 again today and for making 

 every spinner a winner!  

 See you soon in Volume 7! 

Have a Shady day!


  1. I have to say I love it when doo-wops duel. You guys outdid yourselves today with some absolutely terrific selections for us. My Saddest Hour is an amazing piece- all the angst, heartache, and sorrow really roll out in that song.

    That most of these artists were so young when they started is nothing short of amazing. Thanks to you both for a rich treat this morning!

    1. Thank you, Shelly! I'm glad you agree with me about that Five Keys recording. The impassioned vocals and glorious group harmony make me swoon every time I listen. Records like that remind us of the wealth of great music produced by black groups in the late 40s and early 50s before the birth of rock 'n' roll. Groups like The Six Teens and Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers remind us that 12 and 13 year olds can sing with feeling and maturity beyond their years. Thank you again, dear friend Shelly, for coming by early and for your delightful comments. Have a wonderful day deep in the heart of Texas!

  2. Shady 100% Odie "0". I enjoy the tunes good buddy with I admit that they were "all" new to me. Just goes to show that there are many groups out there that i never heard of. Thanks to you I am broadening my knowledge of who they are. Thanks for all you do.

    1. You're very welcome, Odie, and thank you for stopping by. Keep in mind that most of these recordings were brand new to me until I did my research a few months ago. I love to go way back in time and uncover nuggets for use here on the blog. Thank you again for your visit and comments, Odie, and have a great day up Carolina way!

  3. Well dear Tom, you'll no doubt be pleased to hear that I have been sitting in the sunshine whilst listening to your records today. Thanks to you and Ron for such great choices . I guess that I am definitely a doo-wop kind of gal, because I loved all the songs . My favourites were "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself", The Five Keys with My Saddest Hour, and I Understand, by the G-Clefs. I actually remember that one very well. Thanks again for taking us back in time dear friend . Smooches!

    1. Smooches right back at you, dear Thisisme! You're getting a whole year's worth of sunshine in a single week, aren't you? I'm so glad to know that. The sun has begun peeking out from behind the swiftly moving clouds as our weather slowly improves in the wake of Isaac. I suspected that you would enjoy these recordings which are products of a more innocent time. I have come to appreciate them now more than ever before. They reveal the higher standard to which we were held back then. Maybe someday, some way, we can regain that lost innocence. We'll never know unless we try. Thank you very much for your kind visit, dear friend Thisisme. Please give Alfred a pat for me and say hello to my good friend G-T. I'll be chatting with you again soon!

  4. Shady and Ron, Great selections. Funny about Parade of Broken Hearts being A and Human B. On my old 45 the labels were mixed up and put on the opposite sides of the record. You got Human when you thought you were going to play Broken Hearts. Somebody must of have known what was going on. I can't believe you guys came up with You Took My Love by the Cellos. A great Doo Wop song that most have never heard. Looking forward to the next selections.

    1. Hi, Jerre! I'm so glad you came over to look and listen. As you know Scepter and many other record labels of the 60s were rather sloppy with their pressing and labeling practices. In many cases the discs were wafer thin and the wax was too soft and contained impurities. Records like those were susceptible to wear and breakage and crackled and hissed fresh from the factory. Discs were often stamped with the holes off center, shipped to stores already warped and, as you pointed out, the labels were sometimes switched during manufacture. I'm glad you enjoyed the chamber music courtesy of the Cellos, a group that did an equally fine job with ballads and jump sides. Thanks a lot for being here, Jerre, and stay tuned for Volume 7 coming soon!

  5. Sadly the only one of these I'd heard before was The Flamingos because of their place on the soundtrack to My Girl (one of my favourite films!) I've always loved them because of that!

    Emma x

    1. Hi there, Emma! I saw the movie My Girl years ago and have since forgotten that "Lovers Never Say Goodbye" was included in the soundtrack. Thanks for reminding me. I enjoyed hearing the story behind the naming of the song. Most of these great selections were brand new to my ears until I did my research for this post and dug them up on YouTube. It's exciting to discover lost treasures like these. Thank you ever so much for coming to see me, dear friend Emma. I hope the sun is shining in your lovely part of the world today. Take care and I'll be seeing you soon - here, there and everywhere.

  6. Hi Tom,
    You never cease to surprise me with some tunes that are new to me but always great to hear! I don't know how you find them, but merci, dear friend!

    Just hoping you and yours are doing well and suffered naught from Isaac. These storms are becoming more than a nuisance. We are off the the beach next week so I'm hoping we don't have any tropical weather heading towards old North Cackalacky!

    Thanks again for a lovely interlude of fine musical magic!

    1. Well hello, dear Sush! It means a great deal to me that you came out of blog retirement to pay me a visit. I'm glad you agree that these obscure recordings are great to hear. These simple songs cleanse the soul, offering a perfect antidote to the angry, defiant rants frequently heard in popular music of recent years. As for Isaac, residents of the greater Tampa Bay area are breathing a sigh of relief now that the storm has passed by and hoping it doesn't inflict too much damage on the northern Gulf coast. Even as I'm writing this another band of heavy rain is sweeping through my neighborhood reminding us of the far reaching impact of these tropical systems. I will be very happy when our long hurricane season comes to an end. I hope you have fun at the beach. Please remember sunscreen and watch out for sharks and rip currents. Bless you, dear friend Sush, for remembering me today. You are very special to me!

  7. What a day to rock and roll while Isaac barrels on by! Glad it did you no harm. I have to confess that I'd never heard of ANY of these, except "Popsicles, Icicles." That's one that's always been a favorite of mine from way back. But the rest were brand new to me. Loved the sweet voice of the lead singer of Six Teens. So clear and pure! I always like the OJays,and the voice of Tommy Hunt of the Flamingos - oh my - like velvet. Thanks for a great collection of songs this week!

    1. Hi, karen! Thank you very much for coming! For a while it seemed like Isaac was determined to crash the RNC. In 2004 and 2005 Central Florida was the target of several hurricanes and I know how the people of New Orleans, Biloxi and Mobile must be feeling at this hour. "Why us?" That record by the Murmaids is a great girl group sound. As I stated in the text it began its chart run immediately following the JFK assassination. As you might recall, "Wonderful Summer" by Robin Ward was also high on the chart at that time. Songs like those harked back to the innocence of the Eisenhower years of the 50s while rock songs such as "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen, released around the same time, ushered in a new era of music with an edge and an attitude (Beatles, Stones, Animals, etc). (oh, and KISS!) :) Thank you again for your thoughtful visit and awesome comments, dear friend karen!

  8. So much music, so little time. I only got a little over half way through as I am about to head off to work (boo) but I will be back to sample the second half later on buddy! Is it just me or did doo wop bands always have the best band names? I mean murmaids?! Thats beyond brilliant. I wish I would have thought of it. I also wish I had the talent to actually be in a band but thats another story. Speaking of how awesome doo wop is, this genre hands down has the best love songs and My Saddest Hour is a perfect example of that. Its passionate and emotional and want to eat it up with a spoon. Gosh I wish I could just stay home and listen to music all day...and get paid for it of course :) Have a great Wednesday sir!

    1. I think you should ditch work again today, Amber Blue Bird! What's more important, bringing home the bacon or groovin' to my tunes? I am thrilled to know that you get the same chills and fever listening to "My Saddest Hour." A savvy director should use that buttery recording in the soundtrack of a movie. It deserves to be heard. The Murmaids record casts a spell of sadness over me, dearie, because it reminds me of President Kennedy's assassination, a very dark period in our nation's history. As the Pixies Three song goes, it was the start of a "cold, cold winter." You're my best buddy, Amber, and I thank you very much for making time for a fly by in the midst of your busy morning. I hope you have a great day, dear friend!

  9. Hi Shady and Ron...took the backroads to your post today. I guess I'm batting about 50% on your lineup, The Five Keys were very good...I especially remember 'Close Your Eyes', it is such a 'dreamy' song. I think we may have been cheated some, not getting to hear more than one song per group back home, but, there were so many of these groups. The O'Jays were more noted in our area-I never heard 'You're On Top', but listened to your cut, and it's soo good! I'm thinking I heard more from the G-Clefs, but distinctly remember loving 'I Understand'. You know, these Doo-Wop groups invented style and harmony (I believe). But, then, you had to be there, right?

    So, I moved on to Barry and the Tamerlanes. I don't even recognize their name, but, DO remember 'I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight'. A great song, made the guys think some, eh? 'Popsicles and Icicles' was very popular on our radio stations. Brought us girls to a new era of listening and singing! There were a lot of girl groups, that consisted of 2 or 3 sisters back then. 'I Only Have Eyes For You' by The Flamingos is a song I really loved.

    All of your selection rocks! 'You Took My Love' by the Cellos, I did not know, but enjoyed listening to the song you presented.

    You two guys are the greatest...bringing back songs that we just can't remember, UNTIL...we stop by the Del!!!! Love it, see you soon.♫

    1. Hi, Susan! If you remember that many of these songs then you are almost in the same league as Dell Rat Jerre and that's saying something. As Dell Rat Ron stated in his description, the G-Clefs also had a hit in 1956 with "K-Ding Dong." You might remember it if you listen on Y/T. I'll be honest. I hadn't heard that great one by Barry and the Tamerlanes for decades but it came right back to me when I discovered it while researching this series. We mustn't allow those long lost gems to be forgotten. You are so sweet and kind for visiting, reading, listening and commenting, Susan, and I really appreciate it. I only have one question. Are you the MyTexasGardens Susan or the KardKornerKrib Susan? :) Or the one with "Scootie"? :) Have a terrific day, dear friend!

    2. Hehe! All of the above. Actually, my name is Suzanne, but, I am called Susan a lot. AT&T, since 1972 has always billed me as Susan, and, still, when I acquired AT&T interenet...Susan! So, since the name is okay with me, it sticks (except for my mom) lol!

      I don't recall 'K-Ding Dong' (what a title!), but will go on and listen to it. Thanks Shady!

    3. I noticed you always caption the pictures on your blog with "by Suzanne." You are a woman of many identities and a friend with many fine qualities! Thanks for the follow-up, dear Susan!

  10. This was a great song list today, Shady. I enjoyed it so much. I did recognize a few: 'I Understand' 'Popcicles' and 'I wonder What She's Doing.' Love them all. I agree about Tommy Hunt's rendition of 'I Just Don't Know what to do with Myself.' It was wonderful and I love his voice. There were some fascinating facts behind the songs like for, 'Lovers Never Say Goodbye.' I always find the origins of songs interesting. Thanks for all the fun and smiles.

    1. Hi, Belle! Dell Rat Ron and Dell Rat Jerre will both be happy to know you like that Tommy Hunt record. I have to admit the only version I knew until recently was the one by Dionne Warwick. I found it interesting that Barry De Vorzon composed the theme from my favorite soap Y&R and also founded Valiant Records, the label that released the string of hits by the Association, the group our friend Odie loves so much. It's also interesting that "Popsicles and Icicles" was penned by David Gates of Bread, a group Dell Rat Jerre loves. It's so nice to see your smiling face here tonight, dear friend Belle! Have a safe and happy weekend and be sure to catch next Tuesday's post because I've got some trivia for you that I think you'll enjoy!

  11. I learn something every time I visit your wonderful blog. Thank you for sharing. a lovely idea, thank you for sharing. Sending hugs your way and wishes for a beautiful week ahead xo

    1. Hi, Katie! Hugs to you, dear friend. I'm glad you're learning a little something through your visits and I hope you leave here entertained as well as informed. I'm so happy to see you, dear friend, and I wish you a wonderful week ahead!


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