This section contains lost Doo-Wop groups from the 1960 sand older. Doo-Wop is a specific genre that includes many sub-genres, ranging from A-Capella, 50s rock, and R&B.
Song: Blue Velvet
Artist: The Clovers
In my opinion, The Clovers were a very underrated DooWop group. In many ways, their sound reminds me a lot of The Coasters. I think the only differences were that The Coasters were more on the R&B side. I discovered something interesting. As a young boy, when I first heard “Blue Velvet” on the radio, I only remembered hearing Bobby Vinton’s version (which by the way hit #1 on the Top 100 Charts in 1963). But, much to my surprise, I discovered that this song was originally performed by a famous jazz vocalist named Tony Bennett. His version of “Blue Velvet (1951),” reached up to #20.
In My Opinion, The Clovers Were A Very Underrated Group!
According to some sources I’ve read, The Clovers’s version of “Blue Velvet (1955)” reached #14 on the Billboard’s R&B charts. However, when I tried verifying that, I could not find it on Billboard’s website. Now, perhaps there were so many changes within the group, there are no stable search criteria that could be used? I’m thinking. The song did not appear to register anywhere on the Top 100/200 Charts (as far as I can tell). This is one of the many perfect examples of how artists and their music become obscure & erased from our memories.
I loved how The Clovers performed this song. Perhaps they sang the song too mellow to attract the tastes of most music goers in the Black community. I say this because by the time the 60s came along, Black music appeared to have made a 360° turn around. Our music became more soulful and grooveable. Well, you may not remember The Clovers for their cover of “Blue Velvet,” perhaps you’ll remember them for their one and only popular hit called “Love Potion No. 9 (1959).” The song only reached #23 on the charts, but it was extremely popular, and covered by many other artists.
The Crests were probably the most respected and revered doo-wop group by the end of the 1950s. In fact, they were hailed, as not only the first integrated musical group, but the first successful interracial music group. The group’s faces changed frequently shortly after the 60s. However, when the group originally started, there were a two African American males, one Puerto Rican, one Italian, and one African American female. Wow, I had absolutely no idea a woman was in the group 😨.
For many of my younger readers, the group’s name will not “ring a bell.” Perhaps maybe my older readers too, as they have fell in to the realm of obscurity. However, I think you’ll remember their single big hit that cemented their careers once you hear it. The song that put them on the American Billboard map was called “16 Candles!” Then Italian lead singer, Johnny Maestro, took this song to #2 on Top 100 Charts in 1959. You may also remember the song from the movie “16 Candles (1984).” However, it was not sung by The Crests, it was actually covered by a rock group called “The Stray Cats.”
The group’s song “16 Candles” was played and used everywhere. In fact, I’m pretty certain I heard it on one or two episodes of “Happy Days (1974),” which was an extremely popular TV show, that dealt with a lot of normal teenage issues. The Crests had other hits as well. “Step By Step (1960),” “Trouble In Paradise (1960),” and “Six Nights A Week (1959).” However, “16 Candles” remained their biggest and most memorable hit.
You know, I’m thoroughly shocked! Absolutely dumbfounded! That the hugely popular musical group called “The Platters” only had one number one hit, and only two top 10s, according to Billboards’ Top 100 Charts (since formed in 1952)! Holy cow! Well, let me tell you, growing up, The Platters as a group were certainly #1 in our family. I remember my grandpa playing this group just as much as all his other favorites. Even as a young child, this was the kind of music I personally gravitated to.
The Original Lead Singer, Johnny Barnes, Had The Most Beautiful Voice!
The original lead singer, Johnny Barnes, had the most beautiful male voices I ever heard at the time. Even today, no other group comes to mind (when it comes to doo-wop), where their lead singer carries a tune so beautifully the way he did. Actually, you know I should add a small disclaimer to my prior statement. There were so many members that changed, members that were swapped, etc., Johnny may not actually be the original lead singer. However, his voice is the predominant voice I remembered growing up. There were sooooo many songs they produced, that became my all-time favorites. One of them on the top of that list, which also happens to be their only #1 song, is called “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” released in 1959. Man…. For me to be so young, and know nothing about love/adult relationship and somehow be able to connect with this song, was a huge testament to the power of his voice.
I was thrilled when I actually found a YouTube video of Johnny Barnes singing some of their old tunes! That was so cool! Now, that was a moment I hope the guests cherished. I would have loved to be present for that. If my research is correct, Gaynel Hodge is the only living member left from the legendary Platters. You know, considering all the scandals I’ve read; including drugs, as well as 4 male members being accused of sex trafficking (although never charged), I don’t even understand how that group continued to exist in that era, especially when news like that entered the public domain. Honestly, I really think that Johnny’s voice saved The Platters from total destruction. If they were not so talented, and had great songs, they would have been toast by the end of the 60s.
Before I close this article, I’d like to leave you with some more of my Platters favorites. “Only You (And You Alone),” “The Great Pretender,” “You’ve Got The Magic Touch,” “My Prayer,” “My Way,” “Unchained Melody,” “Please Have Mercy,” “I’m Sorry,” “As Time Goes By,” and finally, “I Only Have Eyes For You.” Thanks for reading… I hope you’ve enjoyed this article.