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Doo Wop Milestones
The Online Roots of Rock

The Online Roots of Rock
JUKEBOX CLIP
Wanda Jackson - Let's Have a Party
The Paragons



Vocal Harmony Groups

The Ravens The Orioles The Penguins The Marcels
The Ravens
late 1940s
The Orioles
late 1940s
The Penguins
mid-1950s
The Marcels
early 1960s

LEFT: The Ravens were a transitional group that bridged the gap between the sophisticated pop sounds of the Ink Spots/ Mills Brothers and the unsophisticated street corner sounds of harmonizing teenagers. Like the Ink Spots and Mills Brothers, the Ravens wanted crossover hits that registered on the white Pop charts. Their 1950 hit, Count Every Star, displayed an effective use of bass and falsetto voices — features of a developing Doo Wop sound. LEFT CENTER: The Orioles are generally credited as being the first black vocal harmony group to target the black market with their 1948 hit, It's Too Soon To Know. The chart successes of the Orioles in the late 1940s spawned a number of bird groups in the early 1950s. RIGHT CENTER: The Penguins, one of the bird groups, scored a huge hit in 1954 with Earth Angel. This song was also a huge hit on the white Pop charts which inspired the formation of racially-integrated and white Doo Wop groups.The late 1950s was the golden era of Doo Wop. RIGHT: The Marcels, originally an integrated group, scored a huge international hit in 1961 with their version of Blue Moon. I was a #1 hit on both the Pop and R&B charts.

Click here to listen to song clips of Doo Wop milestones!


Doo Wop

Doo Wop, like Rhythm and Blues, began in the years immediately following World War II. Both came out of big-city ghettos (now bursting with ex-war industry workers) and were aimed at the urban, black market.
But where Rhythm & Blues took its drive and beat from Jazz and Jump Blues of the 1940s, Doo Wop took its four-part a capella1 harmonies from Gospel of the 1920s. R&B was performed by seasoned professionals in clubs while Doo Wop was performed by young amateurs, usually teenagers, on street corners. R&B was about sex. Doo Wop was about love.


"Doo wop music in its purest form
is simple, innocent, joyous, romantic and almost spiritual;
it doesn't make a political statement, it doesm't hammer you into a comatose state with its rhythm and beat,
and you don't need to smoke anything illegal
to grasp the meaning of its lyrics."
— Bob Hyde
The Doo Wop Box


R&B had its machismo drive. Doo Wop was characterized by its tender, four-part harmonies — as epitomizeded by the Orioles in their 1948 debut recording, It's Too Soon to Know. The tender sentiments expressed in It's Too Soon To Know took the black audience by storm and became a #1 hit on Billboard magazine's Race Records chart.2
INK SPOTS / MILLS BROTHERS ,
This sound of It's Too Soon To Know was reminiscent of the seasoned Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers from the early 1940s, but these two vocal harmony groups were aiming their tender sentiments at a white audience to achieve success on the Pop charts.3 Their very names were probably chosen to placate a white audience.
THE RAVENS ,
The Ravens were a young vocal group from New York City. They formed in 1945 and had aspirations like the Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers of achieving success on the white Pop charts. Their eclectic repertoire included ballads, jump blues, novelty songs and pop standards. Although they leaned towards Pop, their music included some elements that would find their way into Doo Wop. For this reason the Ravens are considered a forerunner to the Doo Wop sound.
THE ORIOLES ,
Contemporary to the Ravens were the Orioles, a Baltimore group formed in 1947. Unlike the Ravens, who aspired for success on the white Pop charts, the Orioles are credited as being the first black vocal harmony group to target the black, urban market. The Orioles, whose members were all teenagers, sang to a young African-American audience. Their first recording, It's Too Soon To Know, written by a teenager, expressed teenage angst and became an instant hit in 1948. The Orioles are recognized by many as being R&B's first vocal group and, in retrospect, the progenitor of Doo Wop.
The appeal of the sentiments and four-part harmonies of the Orioles spawned the next generation of Doo Wop groups in the early 1950s, including many bird groups such as the Cardinals, the Crows, the Larks, the Robins, the Wrens and the Penguins.
"EARTH ANGEL" ,
The Penguins, one of the bird groups, scored a mega-hit in 1954 with their recording, Earth Angel. Recorded in a garage by teenagers, Earth Angel crossed over onto the white Pop charts and inspired the formation of all-white groups, usually Italian-American, (Dion and the Belmonts, the Elegants, the Mystics, the Capris . . .) and racially-integrated groups (the Dell Vikings, the Crests, the Impalas . . . )
This cross-fertilization of influences would result in the golden age of Doo Wop in the late 1950s.
DEFINING DOO WOP ,
Doo Wop is ill defined. And there are two camps of thought.
One camp of music historians refers to all vocal group music starting with the Orioles 1948 hit It's Too Soon To Know and extending through the 1950s to the early 1960s as Doo Wop music.
The second camp sees this definition as being too broad, and discerns a difference between vocal harmony groups and Doo Wop groups during this period. These historians argue that the Orioles have little to do with Doo Wop and that such wonderful vocal harmony groups like the Platters and the Skyliners are not Doo Wop groups.
And the name "Doo Wop" only confuses the issue as it implies the use of nonsense syllables. Many of the early vocal-group songs did not use nonsense syllables. This name was purportedly coined in the 1970s, lumping all the vocal groups together in retrospect. In their time they were just R&B groups or Rock n Roll groups.
So, without splitting hairs, lets agree on the basics.
Doo Wop evolved in the late 1940s from the a capella singing of black teenage boys using gospel harmonies to impress black teenage girls. Their music was decidedly secular — usually simple love songs that idealized girls to the state of goddesses or angels. (The archetypal song would be Earth Angel.) They sang in subways, on street corners, in front of publishing houses, or wherever they might be discovered. Not only did they sing to impress girls, but a recording contract might be their ticket out of the ghetto.
Tender, innocent, harmonized love ballads were something new to the black market.3 The sound took root.
UNDERSTANDING DOO WOP ,
In the mid '50s there were probably thousands of black vocal groups singing on street corners, vying for a record contract. Most were never recorded, so we'll never know what we've missed. Many of the lucky ones proved to be "one hit wonders" — but produced some of Doo Wop's most-cherished classics. This broad gene pool probably accounts, in part, for the vitality of Doo Wop. By comparison, Pop music at the time, with its regimented stable of artists and writers, was very derivative.
Another reason for Doo Wop's huge popularity in the mid '50s was that the music sprang from the ground up. It was street music, as opposed to Pop music at the time that was imposed from the top down by professional songwriters and their organizations. Further, Doo Wop was aimed at the burgeoning teenage market that Tin Pan Alley either didn't recognize or did recognize but was unable to address.
To keep connected to their audience, many Pop singers started covering roots music hits: Country & Western in the early '50s and Doo Wop in the mid '50s.
By the late '50s the Pop charts were open to anyone, thanks to the democracy of Rock 'n' Roll.
Doo Wop changed considerably over the years with its growing, broader acceptance.
Iit wasn't until the early 1970s that Doo Wop was recognized as a distinct genre and given a name. Up until this time it was simply considered either Rock 'n' Roll or Rhythm & Blues.

1
A capella derives from alla capella (1847) from Italian, "in the manner of the chapel." Early church music (pre-1600) was written for unaccompanied voices. America's founding religions considered instruments as tools of the devil — a belief that severely curtailed the development of white roots music for a hundred and fifty years. Unaccompanied vocal singing was popularized in America by the barbershop quartets of the 1870s. A capella has come to refer to any unaccompanied vocal music.
2
In 1942 Billboard magagazine added the Harlem Hit Parade to its weekly record listings. In 1945 this was changed to Race Records and, in 1949, changed again to Rhythm & Blues.
3
Rhythm & Blues tended to have a machismo drive.

.
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Click on any link below for group profile

Dion & the Belmonts**
The Bobbettes
***
The Boss Tones
The Cadillacs
The Capris
**
The Cardinals
The Channels
The Chantels***
The Chords
The Cleftones
The Clovers
The Coasters
The Crests*
The Crows
The Danleers
The Dell Vikings*
The Dells
The Dominos
The Dubs
The Earls
**
The Edsels
The El Dorados
The Elegants**
The Eternals
**
The Excellents
The Fascinators*
The Fiestas
The Five Discs
The Five Keys
The Five Satins
The Flamingos
The Genies
The Gladiolas
The Halos
The Harp Tones
The Heartbeats
The Hearts
The Hollywood Flames
The Harp Tones
The Impalas
*
Little Anthony &
. the Imperials
The Impressions
The Jesters
The Jewels
The Jive Five
The Larks
Shep & the Limelites
The Marcels
The Marvelows
The Mello-Kings
Hank Ballard &
. the Midnighters
The Monotones
The Moonglows
The Mystics
**
The Nutmegs
The Orioles
The Paragons
The Passions
**
The Pastels
The Penguins
The Platters
Shirley Gunter &
. the Queens
***
The Quotations
**
Randy &
. the Rainbows
**
The Ravens
The Regents
Norman Fox and
. the Rob-Roys
*
The Robins
Vito &
. the Salutations
**
The Schoolboys
The Shells
The Shields
The Silhouettes
The Skyliners
**
The Solitaires
The Students
Frankie Lymon &
.
The Teenagers
The Teenchords
The Tokens
**
The Valentines
The Velvets
The Videos
The Willows
The Wrens
Maurice Williams &
. the Zodiacs

* racially-integrated group
** all-white group
*** all-girl group


.Featured Sites .

Doo Wop - Wikipedia
The Doo Wop Society of Southern California
Jim Taylor's Doo Wop Heaven
Wikipedia website
defunct society but informative website
Jim Taylor's website

Other Recommended Sites
Richard Nader Doo Wop Concerts
info on cities and dates
Doo Wop Preservation League
non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Doo Wop architecture

Relevant E-zine Sites
Doo Wop Nation
R&B vocal groups from the '40s and '50s
Jamm Upp
Vocalists and instrumentalists that set the stage for Rock & Roll


 

Click on any link below for more information, or to order online


They All Sang
On The Corner
Doo Wop
Group
Harmony
American Singing Groups
Doo Wop - The All Sang On The Corner - Philip Groia
Do Wop - The Music The Times The Era - Bruce Morrow and Rich Maloof
Doo Wop - Group Harmony - The Black Urban Roots of Rhythm & Blues - Stuart L Goosman
Doo Wop - American Singing Groups - A History, From 1940 to Today - Jay Warner
A Second Look at New York City's Rhythm and Blues Vocal Groups
by Philip Groia
The Music, The Times, The Era
by Bruce Morrow and Rich Maloof
The Black Urban Roots of Rhythm & Blues
by Stuart L Goosman
A History, From 1940 to Today
by Jay Warner


The Ultimate
Vocal Group Harmony Reference Guide
The Ultimate
Vocal Group Harmony Reference Guide
Doo Wop
The Chicago Scene
The
Sophomores
and Me
Doo Wop - The Ultimate Vocal Harmony Reference Guide - Dennis Holran
Doo Wop - The Ultimate Vocal Harmony Reference Guide - Dennis Holran
What It Was was Rockabilly - Richard E Jandrow
What It Was was Rockabilly - Richard E Jandrow
Volume 1
by Dennis Holran
Volume 2
by Dennis Holran
by Robert Pruter
A Love Story
by Daniel W Hood


Relevant E-zines
Doo Wop Nation
R&B vocal groups from the '40s and '50s
Jamm Upp
Vocalists and instrumentalists that began Rock & Roll


Click on any link below for more information, or to order online


DOO WOP
Box Set 1
DOO WOP
Box Set 2
DOO WOP
Box Set 3
ROCK, RHYTHM
& DOO WOP
The Doo Wop Box
The Doo Wop Box 2
The Doo Wop Box 3
Rock Rhythm & Doo Wop
various artists
Rhino / Wea
4 CDs /101 tracks
various artists
Rhino / Wea
4 CDs /101 tracks
various artists
Rhino / Wea
4 CDs / 102 tracks
various artists
Rhino / Rea
3 CDs / 66 tracks


DOO WOP
Love Songs
DOO WOP
25 All-Time Hits
DOO WOP
25 More All-Time Hits
Doo Wop Love Songs
Doo Wop - 25 All-time Hits
Doo Wop - The Only Collection You'll Ever Need
various artists
Shout Factory
4 CDs / 85 tracks
various artists
Varese Sarabande
1 CDs / 25 tracks
various artists
Varese Sarabande
1 CD / 25 tracks

The Best of
DOO WOP

Ballads
Ultimate
DOO WOP
DOO WOP
The Only Collection
You'll Ever Need
The Best of Doo Wop Ballads
Ultimate Doo Wop
Doo Wop - The Only Collection You'll Ever Need
various artists
Rhino / Wea
1 CD /18 tracks
various artists
Medacy
3 CDs / 30 tracks
various artists
Shout Factory
2 CDs / 37 tracks

Ultimate
DOO WOP
Collection
Street Corner
SERENADE
It All Started With
DOO WOP
Ultimate Doo Wop Collection
Street Corner Serenade
Street Corner Serenade
various artists
Collectables
2 CDs / 50 tracks
various artists
Rhino / Wea
1 CD / 22 tracks
various artists
Time Life
10 CDs / 145+ tracks
1 DVD / 25 performances


.MP3 Downloads .
Visit specific artists for song or CD downloads


Click on VHS or DVD links below for more information, or to order online

Doo Wop 50
Doo Wop 51
Rock, Rhythm &
Doo Wop
Doo Wop
Vocal Group
Greats Live
Doo Wop 50 - dvd
Doo Wop 51 - dvd
Rock, Rhythm & Doo Wop - dvd
Doo Wop - Vocal Group Greats Live - dvd
Rhino / Wea
2000
Taped at 1999
tribute concert
Rhino / Wea
2001
VHS | DVD
Rhino / Wea
2002
VHS | DVD
Shout Factory
2006
Taped at 2005
tribute event
VHS | DVD


.YouTube Videos .
Click here to enjoy some Doo Wop videos
posted on YouTube



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The Online Roots of Rock
100 Years of Popular Music in America
from a Rock 'n' Roll perspective

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