Gang Doo Wop

In the competitive and tough urban neighborhoods where classical doo wop flourished there were plenty of rival gangs and clubs. Groups often faced off against each other in sing-offs held at community centers or local parks. The atmospheres were like similar team events at high school where each team had their own fans. The nice part was each side could go home thinking their side won. These contests eventually found their way into record albums, the prototype of which was the Paragons Meet The Jesters.

Even if the average teenager did not fight often, he had to talk tough and act cocky. Some of this posturing and bragging found its way into song. Lead singers in gang-doo-wop were far from being smooth and seemed to swagger as they sang. They were street smart, and implied that high school was for squares. They told girls what they expected of them and placed them on much truncated pedestals compared to other classical doo-wop leads. Lyrics taken from "Oh Baby the Jesters and Hey, Little Schoolgirl by the Paragons are typical:

"Oh-oh-oh baby, don't try to get away from me, (repeat)
I'm yours pretty baby, and I guess I will always be
Oh-oh-oh baby, I got to make love to you, (repeat)
If you leave me baby, all I got's is eternity

Hey, pretty little girl walkin' down the street,
Looks so fine, dressed so neat,
Hey-ey, little girl will you be mine,
I'm gonna love you all the time

Harmonies in gang-doo-wop were intricate yet rough. The song was often softened by liberal use of falsetto, either as a lead or fairly constant background.

Prominent Examples

Group Song Tempo Year
Bop Chords
Channels
Charts
Collegians
Continentals
Jesters
Kuf-Linx
Love Notes
Matadors
Paragons
When I Woke Up This Morning
That's My Desire
Desiree
Zoom Zoom Zoom
Picture of Love
I'm Falling In Love
So Tough
United
Vengeance
Let's Start All Over Again
fast
slow
slow
fast
fast
fast
fast
slow
slow
slow
1957
1957
1957
1957
1956
1957
1958
1957
1958
1957