Local doo wop radio station takes listeners back in time.
Produced by Megan Raymond
Classical music has endured for many centuries. Jazz for many decades. But it appears that doo-wop may not. Why? Detractors might say it’s not as artistic or complex as these other two genres.
Still, it is important to American musical history when tracing the origins of rock and roll. Over the air, oldies stations no longer play it. (After all, it caters to us folks who are over 50 and advertisers and radio programmers believe we are toxic, ha-ha.) I personally try to keep it going on my internet radio show. I sing with a gentleman who is in a doo-wop group and they seem to get a lot of gigs.
It is a wonderful merging of two cultures, the African-American and the Italian-American, both groups adopting doo-wop in their own unique styles.
EARLIER: Todd’s Baby Boomer Trivia: Volume 3
EARLIER: Todd’s Baby Boomer Trivia: Volume 2
EARLIER: Todd’s Baby Boomer Trivia: Volume 1
One of my fond school-days memories is always sneaking into the boys room with four or five other guys and impromptu harmonizing to some classic doo-wop songs instead of going in there to smoke or paint graffiti as many of our peers did.
When the principal caught us, instead of punishing us, he enjoyed the music so much, he had us put on shows for the entire school. The very first 45 record I asked my parents to buy me was a doo-wop version of “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” by Vito and the Elegants. (Vito Piccone, the lead singer, is still with us and still performs.) Unable to find other guys who want to sing this style of music, I have been a barbershop singer for the last 10 years, another genre struggling to survive.
I found myself born too late and attending the wrong high school to make it as a pop star. The school I went to in the ’60s was known for turning out athletes (Lafayette produce: Sandy Koufax, John Franco), while our biggest rival, Lincoln, turned out all these folks who went there in the late ’50s: Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, Carole King.
So first it was doo-wop, and then right before the British Invasion, it was the singer-songwriter. People thought it was a new thing that the Beatles wrote their own songs, but the folks I just mentioned started doing it here in the U.S. many years prior.
If you like quizzes, there is still time to register for my in-person music trivia game Saturday night at the Ocean Bay diner in Sayreville. Get an email to me at [email protected], where you can also send me the answers to these queries (please include your town):
- What was the name of Carole King’s songwriting partner and later husband and then ex?
- Who was her baby-sitter for whom Carole wrote a dance song, and got her to record, becoming a smash hit? (Name the artist and the title of the song.)
- Neil Sedaka had two versions of arguably his biggest hit reach the charts. In 1960 and 1974. What was the song and what was different about the two versions?
Last week’s answers:
- Lois Lane was played originally by Phyllis Coates, then by Noell Neill.
- The Riddler (Frank Gorshin) was the first Batman villain.
- Dean Cain (Superman on “The Adventures of Lois and Clark”) occasionally shows up as Supergirl’s Earth dad.
Ed Czaplicki of Old Bridge aced the quiz!
Frank Todd is the host of “Todd’s Top 20”, a syndicated oldies radio show heard on over 20 stations around the world, 7 days a week. Visit www.franktoddradio.com for info and the schedule. He is also a substitute host on “Music You Can’t Hear on the Radio” over WPRB, Princeton.
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