The Doo Wop Sound

The dawn of the rock and roll era was signaled by the vocal group sound. To many Doo Wop, a vocal group style, "was" rock and roll. The vocal group sound placed melody over rhythm, the song over the singer and  a blending of voices over individual personality or style

Vocal group singing was the most popular style of rhythm and blues in the early 1950's, the first music to be called "rock & roll" and the favorite of the the teenagers and disc jockeys.

corner.jpg (111929 bytes)     The Doo-Wop Groups  doowop2.jpg (74682 bytes)

rddia.gif (938 bytes) Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers            rddia.gif (938 bytes) The Platters
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The dawn of the rock and roll era was signaled by the vocal group sound. To many Doo Wop, a vocal group style, "was" rock and roll. The vocal group sound placed melody over rhythm, the song over the singer and  a blending of voices over individual personality or style

Vocal group singing was the most popular style of rhythm and blues in the early 1950's, the first music to be called "rock & roll" and the favorite of the the teenagers and disc jockeys.

The Penguins
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L to R: Curtis Williams, Cleve Duncan, Dexter Tisby, Bruce Tate
The Penguins "Earth Angel" a teenage anthem.

Members:
   Cleveland Duncan - lead
   Dexter Tisby - second tenor
   Curtis Williams - replaced by Randy Jones
    Bruce Tate - replaced by Teddy Harper

The Penguins "Earth Angel" was the first "pure" doo-wop record. "Earth Angel" blended pop's melodicism and lyrical innocence with the emotional directness of gospel and R&B. A classic "ballad with a beat," the song is sung over a swaying piano triplets with sparse instrumental backing. The yearning lead vocal and ragged background voices created an amateurish" sound in the best sense.

The simple lyrics ("Earth Angel, will you be mine...") have an innocence that the untrained voices and the "garage" sound only served to heighten. "Earth Angel" was literally recorded in the garage of Dootsie Williams, owner of Dootsie Records. The Penguins sound like what they were: a group of high school students singing a song for one of their girlfriends. The message of "Earth Angel" was "That it could be me," by aspiring young singers who couldn't imagine singing like The Ink Spots or leading a jump band like Louis Jordan, but could imagine writing or singing a song like "Earth Angel." 1

Its been said that there were 15,000 Doo Wop groups that recorded at least one record. While that might been an exaggeration certainly a few thousand that did. Hundreds of those had hits, but were found a second one to be elusive. Many would spend a few years trying.   The same qualities that made them initially successful would doom them. Youth and inexperience caused them to make bad business decisions. As they married and started families came responsibility and they no longer could chase their dreams.

Below is a list of the some of the Doo Wop groups, many one hit wonders.

blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Belmonts blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Bop Chords blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Cadets blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Cleftones blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Cadillacs
blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Capris blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Cellos blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Channels blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Charms blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Chords
blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Corsairs blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Crests blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Crows blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Danleers blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Danny and the Juniors
blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Dells blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Del Satins blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Diamonds blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Dubs blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Duprees
blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Earls blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Ebb Tides blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Edsels blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Eldorados blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Elegants
blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Eternals blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Excellents blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Fiestas blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Five Satins blueredball.gif (1701 bytes)  Flamingos
blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) G-Clefs blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Genies blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Harptones blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) The Hearts blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Heartbeats
blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Hi-Lites blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Hollywood Flames blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Impalas blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Imperials blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Jayhawks
blueredball.gif (900 bytes) Jesters blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Jive Five blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Kodaks blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Knockouts blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) The Marcels
blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Mello-Kings blueredball.gif (900 bytes) Mono-Tones blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Moonglows blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Mystics blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Nutmegs
blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Olympics blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Paradons blueredball.gif (900 bytes) Paragons blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Passions blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Pastels
blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Rainbows blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Rays blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Regents blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Rivingtons blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Rob Roys
blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Romans blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Safaris blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Salutations blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Schoolboys blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Shells
blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Shields blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Skyliners blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Shep and the Limelites blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Silhouettes blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Spaniels
blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Teenchords blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Tokens blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Turbans blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Valentines blueredball.gif (1701 bytes)Willows
blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Zodiacs blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Cleftones blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Dell-Vikings blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) blueredball.gif (1701 bytes) Fleetwoods

1 Gass History of Rock Music: The Rock and Roll Era (McGraw-Hill, 1994) p 152


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