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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Like Buttah on Silk Wrapped in Velvet - Christmas With Dodie Stevens, Part 2!





At age 13 Dodie Stevens was

a singing star with a hit record.

(When I was 13 I was still
learning to wave bye-bye.)

"Pink Shoe Laces" was just one of the
many wonderful recordings made
by the gifted young singer.

Keep in mind that all the great songs
in this series were recorded by
Dodie Stevens while she was
in her early to mid teens!

Here's 14 year old Dodie performing
"So Let's Dance," a great rock 'n' roll
number written by Paul Anka.

"So Let's Dance" (September 1960,
B side of "Am I Too Young")

In 1957 the Tune Weavers had a top 5
hit with "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby," a song
I recently presented in Dueling Doo-Wops 10.

In late 1960 Dodie Stevens took the same
instrumental track and changed the words of
the song to "Merry, Merry Christmas, Baby."
Year after year, Dodie's record continues to
be played during the holidays.  Incidentally,
in 1988, the Tune Weavers recorded their
own version of the seasonal song.

"Merry Christmas Baby" 
(Nov./Dec. 1960, uncharted)

In the early weeks of 1961 Elvis Presley had
a #1 hit with the partly sung and partly spoken
"Are You Lonesome To-Night."

Dodie Stevens wasted no time releasing an
answer song, the moderately successful
"Yes, I'm Lonesome Tonight."

"Yes, I'm Lonesome Tonight" 
(Jan. 1961, highest chart position #60)

In 1949 Little Miss Toni Harper,
the singing prodigy I mentioned in Part 1,
recorded a spoken word teenage lament
entitled "Miss In-Between Blues."

In October of 1961, James MacArthur, the actor
who appeared in Disney movies and later co-starred
in Hawaii 5-0, reached the top 30 on the Canadian
chart with a spoken word recording that had a similar
theme and title, "(The Story of) The In-Between Years."
That same month, Dodie Stevens released a version
of the song in America but it remained uncharted.

"(The Story of) The In-Between Years" 
(October 1961, uncharted)

In 1962 Dodie Stevens released "I Cried,"
a variation of "She Cried," the top 5
hit by Jay and the Americans.

I prefer the B side, a zesty rendition
of the Rogers and Hart standard
"Dancing On the Ceiling" from
the 1930 musical Ever Green.

"Dancing On the Ceiling (He Dances On My Ceiling)" 
(February 1962, uncharted B side of "I Cried")

"Sailor Boy," not to be confused with a song the
Chiffons recorded and released in August 1964,
was a girl group sound most notably released two
months earlier in June of '64 by The Sherry Sisters.
The record by the Brooklyn sister act failed to
make the American chart but was a huge hit
in Japan and became a million seller.

Dodie Stevens was apparently the first to record
"Sailor Boy." Dodie's Dolton single was released
at the end of 1963, thereby predating the version
by The Sherry Sisters and two similar themed
records made by Diane Renay, "Navy Blue"
and "Kiss Me, Sailor."  "Sailor Boy" is yet
another great Dodie Stevens record
that somehow failed to chart.

"Sailor Boy" (Dec. 1963, uncharted)

Prolific as she was terrific, Dodie Stevens
proved herself capable of performing
in a variety of vocal styles.

Lady sang the blues, jazz standards, show tunes,
teen pop and rock 'n' roll. It's both a mystery and
a shame that she only had one hit in her career.

It took me more than 50 years to discover
the full extent of Dodie Stevens' talent.
Better late than never.

Have a Shady day


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Little Girl - Big Talent. This Year, Let's Spend Christmas with Dodie Stevens!

I guess you could say

that Geraldine Pasquale 

was precocious.

Geraldine, aka Dodie Stevens,

had a top 5 hit record at age 13.

She recorded it at age 12!

"Pink Shoe Laces" 
(April 1959, highest chart position #3)

For more than 50 years I overlooked and
underestimated perky songstress Dodie Stevens.
I thought of her as a one hit wonder. Maybe that's true.
"Pink Shoe Laces" was the only single of Dodie's
that ever climbed as high as the Billboard top 50.

When I did a little digging, however, I discovered
many fine recordings by this talented songbird.
Incredibly, all were made before her 18th birthday!
As a Christmas present for you (and for me),
I picked a dozen favorites for this 2-part series.

From the songwriting/composing team of
Aaron Schroeder and Wally Gold who gave us
"It's Now or Never" and 16 other songs waxed
by Elvis Presley, came the tender ballad "Miss
Lonely Hearts."  Barely in her teens, Dodie
turned in a wonderful vocal performance that
revealed maturity far beyond her tender years.

"Miss Lonely Hearts" 
(August 1959, highest chart position #111)

Unsolved mystery: In the late 50s when romantic
ballads were quite popular, how could a record
as sweet as Dodie's "Miss Lonely Hearts" have
been confined to the Bubbling Under chart?

On the flip side of "Miss Lonely Hearts" is a pop
standard inspired by the opera Madame Butterfly.
"Poor Butterfly" was introduced on Broadway in
1916's The Big Show and in 1959 Dodie Stevens
recorded the song and made it her own!

"Poor Butterfly"  
(August 1959, B side of "Miss Lonely Hearts")

"Where or When," the oft recorded show tune
from the 1937 Rogers and Hart musical
Babes in Arms, was a top 5 hit for
Dion and the Belmonts in the
early weeks of 1960.

Dodie Stevens released a fine version
of the song around that time on her
second album, Over the Rainbow.

"Where or When" 
(from 1960 album Over the Rainbow)

Dodie's album Over the Rainbow also
included a splendid rendition of a
frequently recorded jazz standard.

George and Ira Gershwin's "Someone to
Watch Over Me" was introduced in the
1926 musical Oh, Kay!

"Someone To Watch Over Me" 
(from 1960 album Over the Rainbow)

"Candy Store Blues" originally became a hit
in 1946 for child singing star Toni Harper.

In 1960 Dodie Stevens waxed
a fine version of her own.

"Candy Store Blues" 
(March 1960, uncharted B side of "Amigo's Guitar")

Stick around!

More fabulous recordings by teen

singing sensation Dodie Stevens

are coming up in my next post as

 we spend Christmas with Dodie!

Have a Shady day!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus... and a Volume 10 of Dueling Doo-Wops!










Dueling Doo-Wops, the mammoth 10-part series
that began in 2011, ends here and now with one
last stack of knocked-out nifties of the past.
When all is said and spun, Dell Rat Ron and
I will have racked up more than 120 RBI's 
--- the "R" for "Records Batted In!"

The italicized phrases
above represent some
of the glib top 40 radio
patter that I borrowed
from Philadelphia radio
legend Joe Niagara of
WIBG or Wibbage as the
iconic station was called.

The Rockin' Bird, as Joe was nicknamed,
loved doo-wop and played many of the
old gold platters featured in this series.

It makes me sad to bring our doo-wop party to an end
but there's no time for tears because Ron and I have
another batch of lost treasures for you to enjoy
before the curtain comes down.

 Ron, time for your first play of the day! 


 Shady, just call me the 
 dream weaver because 
 I'd like to begin with a 
 dreamy slow side by 
 The Tune Weavers. 
 This is one of my favorite 
 doo-wop ballads, with a 
 sweet female lead and 
 the sweetest, sexiest 
 saxophone that's ever 
 been recorded.  Pick 
 your favorite lady, wrap 
 your arms around her, 
 let her put her head on 
 your shoulder and sway 
 your way to heaven! 

 "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby" - The Tune Weavers 
 (December 1957, highest chart position #5) 


 In Volume 1 of our Doo-Wop series we presented the 
 three chart hits by the Dubs.  Here's a recording released 
 by the New York group in 1958.  Like many other great 
 records that we have featured, this one also missed both 
 the white and the black charts. "Be Sure (My Love)" is 
 another killer bee, the flip side of  "Song in My Heart."  
 I guarantee that Jerre knows it! 

 "Be Sure (My Love)" - The Dubs 
 (1958, uncharted) 

 Ron, it's always a pleasure to hear 

 something by the Dubs, that great 

 R&B group from Harlem, New York. 

Whatcha say we
linger a little longer
in the Big Apple, yo...
and do some cruisin'
in yo pimpin' ride, yo...
like in the hood of the
Brooklyn Bridge, yo...
then motor on down
the road to Philly, yo?


We simply couldn't afford to lose a talent like New York
doo-wop giant Johnny Maestro, but we did in 2010. Maestro
was that good - a solid pro. His vocals as lead singer of the
Crests were smooth as silk. Records by the Crests resonated
with teens and produced a string of hits for the group on
Coed, a NYC label that specialized in East Coast doo-wop.

Formed in 1957, the Crests were one of the recording
industry's first interracial groups. The original lineup
included the Italian American Maestro, a Puerto Rican
and three black members including Patricia Van Dross,
older sister of R&B star Luther Vandross. Patricia left
the group in 1958 before they moved from the Joyce
label and became steady hit makers on Coed.

You can tell a lot about the quality of a vocal group
by the material found on the B sides of their records.
Whenever you flipped a Crests platter you knew,
"it's in there."

 "Beside You" - The Crests 
 (Feb. 1959, uncharted B side of "16 Candles") 

Now let's listen to three different versions
of another beautiful doo-wop ballad.

Released on the flip side of the Crests' "Step By Step,"
"Gee (But I'd Give the World)" is one of the greatest
uncharted B sides you're ever likely to hear. Had it
been released as an A side, it could easily have
gone top 10 for Maestro and his men!

 "Gee (But I'd Give the World)" - The Crests 
 (May 1960, B side of "Step By Step") 




Joining Johnny Maestro in doo-wop heaven is Philadelphia's
Anthony "Tony" Maresco who left us too soon at age 54.
Tony was only 13 years old in 1957 when he and his group
Tony and the Teens went into the studio and recorded a
demo of "Gee (But I'd Give the World)."

By 1959 Tony was releasing records and making a name
for himself around the greater Philadelphia area as
lead singer of The Dynamics. The group's name soon
changed to Tony and the Twilighters. They recorded
for Red Top, the Philadelphia label that released
the Quin-Tones' hit single "Down the Aisle of Love."
Listen to Tony Maresco's exciting rendition of "Gee."

 "Gee (But I'd Give the World)" 
 Tony and the Twilighters 
 (1959, uncharted) 




In 1965 Tony Maresco released another version of
"Gee (But I'd Give the World)." By this time his group was
billed as Anthony and the Sophomores. I'm a certified
Philly phanatic ( if I'm lyin' I'm dyin' ) and Tony and
his troubadours float my boat all around the moat!

 "Gee (But I'd Give the World)" 
 Anthony & the Sophomores 
 (November 1965, uncharted) 

 Ron, it looks like you 

 and I are playing the 

 Ditties of Two Cities! 


 Right you are, Shady. Let's hang 
 a U-turn and head straight back 
 to Gotham City. When it comes 
 to the pop song "Barbara-Ann," 
 the Beach Boys are fun but the 
 original is the best. A New York 
 doo-wop group called The Regents 
 wrote the song and recorded it first. 
 The single stopped just short of the 
 top 10.  The B-side was "I'm So 
 Lonely" and I liked it a lot, too. 

 "Barbara-Ann" - The Regents 
 (July 1961, highest chart position #13) 

 The Regents' follow-up and only other hit was 
 another up tempo killer called "Runaround." 
 I always kicked myself for not buying it.  
 On a trip to York some years ago, 
 I heard this one playing on a Harrisburg 
 oldies station. "Happy, happy, joy, joy!" 

 "Runaround" - The Regents 
 (August 1961, highest chart position #28) 

 Ron, I have an answer to that one! 


It's the same song recorded by the Roomates. This is not
the same group that backed Cathy Jean. This Roomates act
was formed in the UK in the mid 80s by a crew of mates
who are just as passionate about American doo-wop as
many of their countrymen are about Northern Soul.

Heavily influenced by Dion and the Belmonts and other
groups that recorded for Laurie Records, the Roomates
extensively studied white Brooklyn style doo-wop and
practiced until they learned all the nuances of the genre.
The Roomates' quest for authenticity extends to deliberately
singing certain notes off key, a technique originally made
popular by Dion. Fans consider the Roomates to be the
leading preservationists of doo-wop in the world today.
Listen to this previously unreleased version of "Runaround"
and I think you'll agree the Roomates bring it back alive.

 "Runaround" - The Roomates 
 (previously unreleased, now on CD) 

 Ron, our colossal Dueling Doo-Wops 

 series is almost at an end.  

 It's time for a final tribute to the 

 R&B group that we started featuring 

 way back in Volume 1, the 

 White Rose City's own Quin-Tones! 

 "History will have to record 
 that the greatest tragedy of 
 this period of social transition 
 was not the strident clamor of 
 the bad people, but the appalling 
 silence of the good people." 

 - Martin Luther King, Jr. 


 Dell Rat Jerre wrote: 

 I lived within a city block of some of 

 the Quintones. I played B-Ball in the 
 Crispus Attucks center on Maple St. 
 With that background, how could I 
 not like soul music? Of the Quintones, 
 I lived near the Holmes girl (Carolyn 
 "Sissie" Holmes) but did not really 
 know her, just who she was. There 
 were a lot of Holmes girls and guys 
 in the neighborhood. I played some 
 pickup basketball with Teddy and 
 Bobby Holmes. They might have  
 been a relation. (They were good. I wasn't.) I also played some  
 B-ball and pool with Ernie Banks (sang at one time with the Del- 
 Chords) and he lived in the same area. As for the Quintones 
 records, I have "Down the Aisle"/"Please Dear."  Those plus 
 "Ding Dong" got playing time at dance called Teen Can Teen 
 that was held at the YWCA on Market St.  This was before 
 my Dell years. My favorite Quin-Tones song is "Please Dear." 

 Thanks for the anecdote, Jerre! 

 Ron, over to you. 

 To sum it up, Shady, The Quin-Tones, 

 York, Pennsylvania's angelic sounding 
 R&B vocal group, formed in 1957, 
 made records and toured through '59  
 and officially disbanded in 1960 when 
 lead singer Roberta Haymon married. 
 Fast forward to the present: Dave 
 Bupp and Buddy King, lead singers of 
 the Del-Chords and the Magnificent 
 Men, became members of York High's 
 Hall of Fame a few years ago. The 
 Quin-Tones had never enjoyed that 
 recognition. Dave began a crusade to get the Quin-Tones 
 inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Dave organized groups to 
 perform and raise awareness of the Quin-Tones and other 
 past accomplishments of York's black community. Finally, 
 on April 28, 2011, Dave received word that The Quin- 
 Tones, York's first R&B notables, were to be recognized 
 in William Penn's Hall of Fame. Thank you, Dave, and to 
 those who assisted you in seeing that these local pioneers 
 received their long overdue recognition. 

 Thank you for that wonderful 

 Quin-Tones tribute, Ron! 

Sadly, at least three of the original members of the 
Quin-Tones never lived to see the day when Dave Bupp,
the man they so profoundly influenced, secured the
group's place in their high school Hall of Fame.

Sissie Holmes died in 1995. Primary lead singer
Roberta Haymon died the following year and Phyliss
Carr, who had managed a reunited version of the
group in the 1980s and 90s, passed away in 2006.
The pure, sweet voices of these young women have now
been silenced but live on through their musical legacy.

The New Quin-Tones group continued to perform in
the new millennium with Vince Carr, brother of original 
member Phyliss Carr, handling most of the lead vocals.
The lineup also included Edward "Buck" Generett, one
of the original Del-Chords who in recent years has
sung backup with The Class of 60-Something and
has taken part in Del-Chords reunion concerts.

 Thank you Dave Bupp, 

 thank you Dell Rat Jerre 

 Slaybaugh and thank you 

 Dell Rat Ron Shearer for 

 helping me with this and 

 the other great volumes 

  of Dueling Doo-Wops! 

And so ends our 10 volume series, a salute to more than 120 of the greatest doo-wop recordings of the 1950s and 60s. Wasn't it refreshing to travel back and hear songs fashioned from simple rhymes that extolled the virtues of love, marriage, fidelity, faith, courtesy, respect, goodness and decency? Thank you all, Dell rats young and old, for taking this journey with me!



Let's finish with a sensational snuggler 
that tells it like it was.

 "Those Oldies But Goodies" 
 Little Caesar and the Romans 
 (July 1961, highest chart position #9) 

Have a Shady day!