Doo Wop In The News

Listen to A Teenager In Love  by Dion and the Belmonts

Tales from Backstage:

In The Oldies World!



By Kate Karp

Ever since the Doo Wop Society of Southern California met its demise, I’ve been whining about the lack of group harmony here on the Left Coast and how we’ve had to wait for a show to come to the Cerritos Center here to get satisfaction. A couple of months ago, I got a Meet-up alert from a group I joined online a few years ago and more or less forgot about – the Global Doo Wop Coalition Hall of Fame (GDWCHOF).

The GDWCHOF is a 501(C)(3) charitable organization that’s existed in a number of forms since 1987 and is now known as the Doo Wop Music Hall of Fame. It was founded by a record collector and went online as a MeetUp group in 2009. The group would meet near L.A. and discuss Doo Wop. I’d never gone because of my work schedule and the distance from my house. Then in November, I received a Meet-up announcement for an actual show to be held in a cool pub in Burbank (former home of the Mouseketeers) and featuring appearances from Wally Roker and a number of artists who waxed on those micro-labels with the colored plastic you could see through! You couldn’t keep my foot off the accelerator.

Joe’s Great American Bar & Grill was the perfect venue for a get-together. It was reminiscent of the Bowery Boys’ clubhouse, both in atmosphere and the folks who showed up to participate, albeit more wrinkled and grizzled. Ronnie I would have loved it.  

“When we were formed with an active board of directors, we decided that it was time to stop talking about Doo Wop and start doing something about it,” said one board member—I can’t remember who. “We wanted to enjoy the music and see if we could create new groups with fans and singers who love it. Our mission statement says it all: To promote, preserve, perpetuate and develop Doo Wop.”

The board includes (but isn’t limited to—the number continually grows) Wally Roker of The Heartbeats; Norman Fox of the Rob Roys—and they served “Pizza Pie” at Joe’s; H.B. Barnum, who recorded with The Robins and had a long career as arranger for Aretha Franklin; John Wilson, the Sly of Sly, Slick, and Wicked (not doo wop, but Wilson apparently likes it); Danny Medina, keyboardist of the 1960 SoCal Eastside band the Ambertones; and Ken Banks, who founded the latter-day Dukes of Doo Wop and also sang with the Five Sharks (not Sharps) on Amber, one of those aforementioned little labels that were heavy on a cappella.

Wally Roker was this event’s honoree, singing bass with the Dukes on “1,000 Miles Away.” The GDWCHOF honors a Doo Wop great at each MeetUp.

It was a clubby night. We sat around, saw old buddies and made new ones, and listened to the harmonies. Author Jim Dawson and bandleader/songwriter Billy Vera dropped by. I sang a couple of bars of “Love, or Let Me Be Lonely” offstage (thankfully) with Dianne Wright of the Friends of Distinction. New groups, impromptu and otherwise, sang onstage. Street Corner Renaissance sang “Tonight I Fell in Love” and “Rendezvous with You” with all the proper vocal meanderings. The Dukes of Doo Wop–Ken Bank, Jan Detanna, Bill Frischman, Charlie DiComo, and bass man Mike Ball (RIP—Guerin Barry has replaced him)—raised goose bumps with their version of “Don’t Ask Me (to Be Lonely),” transporting us to the gothic rooftops of the urban East Coast. It was really amazing how total strangers suddenly harmonized like they had been together forever.

Note: The GDWCHOF also has started a touring youth program for children of all ages in schools that don’t have music programs. The entrance donations help pay for this program.

Published January 2012. Revised August 2014.

About the Contributor: Beside being a lover of Doo Wop, Kate Karp spends a lot of her time involved with pet responsibility, care, animal rights and welfare, adoption, and animal-related events in the Long Beach area. She lives with three fine foundling felines, Woodbine, Miss Brooks and Mildred.




Anyone who has read the Old Rocker during the past two years knows my utter contempt for the nomination and election of performers for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Too many deserving acts from the first decade of rock ‘n’ roll (1955-65) have been bypassed while less-deserving performers have found a place in the Hall.

Two groups, one in the Philadelphia area and another in the Los Angeles area, have started movements to honor the acts from that period as well as preserve the music. Under the direction of hard-working Charlie DiComo, the Global Doo-Wop Coalition Hall of Fame, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to promoting, preserving, perpetuating and developing Doo-Wop music. Through their support of the DWMHOF mission, the genre’s fans honor the legacy of legendary Doo-Wop performers, educate and motivate young people to learn about the origins and the evolution of Doo-Wop music and help support Doo-Wop concerts where music and memories make time stand still.

Among the groups honored at its most-recent induction ceremony in March at the Cerritos Fine Arts Center in Cerritos, Calif., were the original Tokens, Jive Five, Mystics, Dubs and Demensions. All are from New York City. A Brooklyn quartet, the Tokens had five Top 40 hits including two in 1961 – “Tonight I Fell in Love” and “their No. 1 smash “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” a cover from The Weavers 1952 hit. 

Another Brooklyn group, The Jive Five, featuring Eugene Pitt, scored with “My True Story,” a No. 3 hit in 1961, and “I’m a Happy Man,” a Top 40 hit in 1965. #The Mystics, still another Brooklyn group, had their only Top 40 hit when “Hushabye” climbed to No. 20 in 1959. Another group that had one hit, the Dubs, from Harlem, scored with “Could This Be Magic,” which reached No. 23. #The Demensions, a Bronx quartet, were successful with “Over the Rainbow” which rose to No. 16 in 1959. The song was introduced by Judy Garland in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.” Not surprisingly, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has not seen fit to honor any of the five groups.

Among the earlier inductees into the GDWCHOF were the Dell-Vikings, Jesse Belvin, Clyde McPhatter, Dave Somerville of the Diamonds, the Orioles, Cleve Duncan of the Penguins, Wally Roker of the Heartbeats, Leon Hughes and Adolph Jacobs of the original Coasters and Norman Fox of the Rob-Roys. #DiComo, a 70-year-old Brooklyn native who currently lives in Cerritos, has been involved with the GDWCHOF since it was reorganized in 2012. The organization currently is working to get a 25,000-square-foot building on the site of the Hollywood Racing Track, which closed for thoroughbred racing in 2013. The facility is located near the Los Angeles International Airport.

The gregarious DiComo also revealed that the DWMHOF’s nominating committee already is meeting to make its nominations for the 2016 Hall of Fame ceremonies. Once the committee finalizes its selections, the nominees will be voted upon by the group’s executive committee. DiComo hopes the process will be finalized in the fall. DiComo also said that he and his organization are working diligently with the late Johnny Maestro’s family to help get him elected to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. Maestro, the lead singer of The Crests and Brooklyn Bridge, is one of many performers from beginning of the rock ‘n’ roll era to have been ignored by the Hall of Fame.

The DWMHOF is more than another events production group: the Doo Wop Music Hall of Fame celebrates a lifestyle from bygone days, reminding baby boomers, their parents, children and grandchildren of their shared musical past, while moving forward toward a musically-multicultural future. #Whether the DWMHOF leaders host a group harmony jam at a local venue or take their popular educational program into area schools, they take their stewardship of the Doo-Wop genre seriously.

This week in rock history – The Beatles’ “Get Back” jumped to No. 1 on May 24, 1969, where it stayed for five weeks. The song featured a keyboard solo by Billy Preston, who became the only non-group member credited on a Beatles’ single. … Aker Bilk became the first British artist to have a No. 1 hit in the U.S. when his clarinet instrumental “Stranger On The Shore” reached the top on May 26, 1962. … “That’ll Be the Day” by Buddy Holly & The Crickets was released on May 27, 1957. The song reached No. 3 on the charts. #Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass established a record when they had four albums in the Top 10 — “What Now My Love,” “South of the Border,” “Going Places” and “Whipped Cream and Other Delights.” — on May 26, 1966. … Chubby Checker won a Grammy Award for Best Rock and Roll Recording for “Let’s Twist Again” and Albany’s Ray Charles for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording for “Hit The Road Jack” on May 29, 1962. … Ray Stevens, of Albany, had the first of his two No. 1 hits with “Everything Is Beautiful” on May 30, 1970. Barry Levine is an entertainment writer for The Albany Herald., He can be reached at



APRIL 6, 2014

Another great evening of Doo Wop history hit Southern California this past Sunday, April 6th at CODY’s VIVA CANTINA (front gate, Los Angeles Equestrian Center): The DOO WOP MUSIC HALL OF FAME inducted the legendary Leon Hughes of the seminal Doo Wop group THE COASTERS, a perfect blend of musical talent and American history. THE COASTERS started in 1955, with a discography including such hits as "Down in Mexico", "Yakety Yak", "Poison Ivy", "Love Potion No. 9", "Along Came Jones" and many more, and were immortalized on Broadway in SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE. In 1987, THE COASTERS became the first group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Coasters also joined the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. As of 2014, Leon Hughes and Adolph Jacobs are the only surviving members of the seminal recording group. 

The DUKES OF DOO WOP’s sound originated on the streets of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Pittsburgh & New Jersey, and the evening’s headliners performed a rollocking sets of classic doo wop hits, including the crowd-pleasing MUSTANG SALLY. The esteemed studio musicians behind BLUES d’LUXX, led by the inestimable Mike Ley, backed up THE COASTERS on a number of their top tunes as the entire room cheered the induction. Congresswoman Maxine Waters and former USA Ambassador to the Bahamas Sidney Williams were on hand for the celebration, and made a presentation to Mr. Hughes.

Emcee for the evening was again the award-winning radio host Roger Steffens. Best known for his reggae archives, Roger's radio career began in New York in 1961: he co-hosted the award-winning Reggae Beat on KCRW in Los Angeles and was syndicated on 130 stations worldwide in the 1980s.

The popular "CHIME OFF" audience jam showcase brought some old time singers to the foreground, including Alvin Sanchez of THE STORYTELLERS, one of the top doo wop groups to come out of East Los Angeles’ Fremont High happening music scene. The Doo Wop Music Hall of Fame celebrates the genre by keeping event ticket prices deliberately low, and the $15 door cover remains tax-deductible. The Doo Wop Music Hall of Fame is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. All proceeds from the event series support the groups educational outreach to area middle and high schools. For more information, email