Once Again, Too
Soon : The Du Droppers ©1999JCMarion
The Du Droppers, like so many of the pioneer R & B vocal groups that came to prominence in the late 40s and early 50s had their genesis in the field of gospel music. The original members of the Du Droppers were Junior Ginyard on lead, Willie and Harvey Ray on tenor and baritone, and Eddie Hashow on bass (soon replaced by Bob Kornegay). In prior years different members of the group had been part of such gospel groups as the Royal Harmony Singers, The Dixie-Aires, The Jubilaires, and the Southwest Jubilee Group. The newly named Du Droppers worked on some R & B material and soon auditioned for record producer Bobby Robinson and radio d.j. Joel Turnero owners of the Harlem based Red Robin label. The first record released by the group in December of 1952 was that special niche of the early years of Rhythm & Blues, the "answer" record. In this case the tune was "Can't Do Sixty No More" answering the Dominos massive hit of "Sixty Minute Man". The flip side of this first outing by the group was "Chain Me Baby" on Red Robin #108. Playing off the long popularity of the Dominos hit the Du Droppers got instant "name" recognition and publicity that go along with airplay and demand by the public for the record.
The relationship between the group and Red Robin did not last long as the Du Droppers now had the rare opportunity to record for one of the major labels looking to break out in the fast growing field of R & B records. RCA Victor, one of the pioneer labels of the recording industry, was aware of the new economic realities of Rhythm & Blues music which had come out behind the "race records" category in the late 40s and was now making inroads in the White population as well as the increasing buying power of Black America. The label showed interest in the Du Droppers and soon in mid-March of 1953 the group's recording of "I Wanna Know" / "Laughing Blues" on RCA 20-5229 hit the streets. In fact it hit the streets like an incendiary device. The record was a huge hit, the biggest R & B hit for RCA, and the first one in a long while. The success of this record was in a large part responsible for giving RCA the confidence to go ahead with the label "X" program and the ensuing establishment of the Groove and Vik subsidiary labels. Back in Harlem Red Robin immediately released a Du Droppers record that had been on the shelf - "Come On And Love Me" / "Go Back" on Red Robin #116, but it received very little in the way of airplay or sales. In June the Du Droppers released a follow up to "I Wanna Know" called "I Found Out". The flip was "Little Girl Little Girl" on RCA 20-5321. Once again the group found success, and they were now one of the high profile R & B acts in the country. During the late summer they embarked on a well received tour of one nighters through the South with the Joe Morris Blues Cavalcade. In September the next RCA record is released - "Whatever You're Doing" / "Somebody Work On My Baby's Mind" on #20-5425. This does not prove nearly as popular as their former records for RCA, or does their next outing "Don't Pass Me By" / "Get Lost" #20-5504. In November the label tries something different - pairing the R & B Du Droppers with pop music hopeful Sunny Gale on RCA 20-5543 for "Mama's Gone Goodbye" and "The Note In The Bottle" (more than 45 years after the record's release, this remains one of the more sought after 45s by record collectors).
The Du Droppers begin the year 1954 by doing a number of personal appearances in the Northeast with Betty McLaurin. In February RCA goes full speed ahead in the R & B sweepstakes by launching their new Groove Records label which will be strictly for R & B music. The first release on the label, Groove #0001 is by the Du Droppers - "Speed King" / "Dead Broke". The group gets some just rewards for their successes by signing for a two month personal appearance stint in Honolulu, Hawaii. In May Groove #0013 is released by the group - "Just Whisper" / "How Much Longer". The next record is Groove #0036 released in September - "Let Nature Take It's Course" and "Boot 'Em Up". By now the records are not selling in large numbers but the group has built in credibility as performers so there is steady work. In early 1955 confusion reigns as there is a dispute over the services of new Du Droppers lead singer Joe Van Loan. It seems that Van Loan has a personal service contract with Herald Records which does not allow him to record for RCA with the Du Droppers. Van Loan had been with The Ravens, and now Charlie Hughes was lead singer on recordings only. This ball of confusion will be the driving force behind the dissolution of the group. In the midst of all this turmoil Groove releases "Talk That Talk" / "Give Me Some Consideration" on #0104. In June RCA releases a 45 EP (extended play) by The Du Droppers on the Groove label. It is Groove EGA-2 and entitled "The Du Droppers : Talk That Talk". Besides the title tune, it contains "I Wanna Know", "Honey Bunch" and "I Only Had A Little". "Talk" was the first song that most White listeners had heard by the group due to the heavy airplay on Alan Freed's radio show, but the end of the group was near. There was one more release by Groove in August - "I Wanna Love You" and "You're Mine Already" on #0120. Junior Ginyard went back to gospel music and the others drifted in and around music for a while but there was never again a Du Droppers session.
The Du Droppers are never mentioned in connection with any list or grouping of the top vocal groups or performers of the R & B era. Much of that is because their time came before the big explosion in music during the summer and fall of 1954. Most teenagers were not aware of their two huge records for RCA, and by the time some knew of their existence, they were on their last days as performers. They are one more act in the R & B field that missed their real day in the spotlight, but they certainly left their mark on the history of this music, and that will always remain as long as the story can be told.
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