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Doo Wop In-Depth

The ultimate guide to doo-wop music, its history, artists, and songs


The Silhouettes

The Silhouettes

source: themusicsover.wordpress.com
Doo-wop, now considered an integral part of the development of rock and roll, was born of postwar R&B vocal groups and was then still labeled as such; like rock, it was a far more rhythmic and wild version of a style that had come before, but the mainstream seemed at a loss as to how to describe it. Which is funny, considering the onomatopoeic nature of its final name -- the first song to actually contain the phrase was 1955's "When You Dance" by the Turbans, but the name of the genre never appeared in print until 1961, and it wasn't until the early '70s, during an oldies resurgence, that the term came into standard use.

The Vocal Groups

The Ink Spots were the primary early influence on what would come to be called doo-wop, although the Mills Brothers and the Ravens were important cultural touchstones as well. But when gospel and pop vocal groups began to form in the inner city, mimicking the instrumental backing of bands and arrangements they didn't have, doo-wop was truly born.
  • The Clovers The Clovers were the group that put the blues into postwar vocal group music, helping to introduce rock and roll and cranking out many oft-covered R&B hits like "Devil Or Angel," "Love Potion #9," and "Lovey Dovey."
  • The Moonglows The historical link between jazz vocalese, Alan Freed, Chess Records, R&B crossover, Motown, and Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing," this group is mainly known for their big hits "Sincerely" and "Ten Commandments Of Love," but were important enough to get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
  • Oldies Mixtape 102: The Roots Of Rock A mixtape that includes several early-Fifties vocal group hits which helped lay the foundations for the sound and style of doo-wop.

Doo-Wop Arrives

Doo-wop entered the mainstream about the same time as rock did, although it was usually, rightly or wrongly, seen as a subset of the larger phenomenon. Like rock, it became more pop as time went on, and cleaned up its act somewhat for white teen consumption -- though it remained the most romantic music around, when a ballad was called for during the "submarine races."
  • Oldies Music Glossary: "Doo Wop" A basic guide to doo-wop music, its best and most popular artists, groups, singers, and songs, and a history of how the style fits into other areas of pop and rock music.
  • The Top Ten Biggest Doo-Wop Hits Not necessarily the best -- although they're classics all -- but the biggest doo-wop smashes of all time, the ones that have stuck with us through decades of changing trends and styles.
  • Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers Best known for "Why Do Fools Fall In Love," the Teenagers have a significance in pop and rock history that can't be overstated: the first teen rock stars, they exerted an amazingly wide and lasting influence on entire record labels and musical genres, and Lymon's sweet falsetto inspired everyone from Ronnie Spector to Michael Jackson.
  • The Coasters Rock and roll's original jesters, the Coasters were the group that did more to make doo-wop marketable and "respectable" than any other, with their comic tales of teen life and excellent Lieber/Stoller tunes.
  • The Flamingos They're best known for their impossibly lush, haunting version of "I Only Have Eyes For You," but by the time they scored that hit, The Flamingos had already carved out an impressive career as one of doo-wop's most influential, unusual, and iconoclastic groups.
  • Dion and the Belmonts Doo-wop's most lasting teen idols, fully folding the genre into pop music and spinning off a charismatic solo act in the process.

Beyond Doo-Wop

As the decade changed over, doo-wop was still in vogue, but when the Beatles brought guitar bands back, vocal groups had to turn to more standard directions if they wanted airplay. The Four Seasons and the Beach Boys helped popularize vocal groups for a new era, but there were several other, just as interesting directions in which the music was moving.
  • The Drifters They were already legends by the Sixties, the group that gave us Clyde McPhatter and Ben E. King, but more than any other group, the Drifters of the early Sixties helped turn R&B into Soul.
  • Little Anthony and the Imperials These doo-wop mainstays hit it big with "Tears On My Pillow" and then moved on to more adult pop with "Goin' Out Of My Head" and "Hurt So Bad," essentially creating the lush mature R&B known as "Uptown Soul."
  • The Platters The most successful (and arguably the most elegant) of all Fifties vocal groups, The Platters redefined pop standards in the rock and roll era. The ultimate in make-out music, certainly, but also a clear influence on Motown's charm-school machine and, at any rate, a vehicle for some amazing vocalese, most notably Tony Williams' incredible tenor.

The Legacy Continues

Today, doo-wop remains a popular, if somewhat historically shackled, form of music, with a huge following, especially in the Latino community. Its ultra-romantic style and primitive beauty appeal to the lover in all of us -- as well as transporting us back to a more innocent time.
  • Oldies Music Playlist and Mixtape 110: The Glory of Love All your favorite doo-wop ballads (and some songs you may not be so familiar with) in one place, flowing together in my own unique mix... a mixtape and/or playlist you can use as some serious make-out music -- or mellow background music, if you like.
  • Review: Various Artists: It All Started With Doo Wop As seen on TV... you've probably caught Dion by now on the tube praising this nine-CD, one-DVD behemoth. But even with the impressive Time-Life imprint (and attendant purchasing power, as far as publishing goes), this box is more of a mess than a coherent selection of classics. The classics are all here, though.
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