& The Juniors ©2000JCMarion
Philadelphia's John Bertram High School was the incubator for the formation of the group originally known as The Juvenaires. The main mover and shaker of the quartet was Dave White. The other members were Danny Rapp, Joe Terranova, and Frank Maffei. A true street corner group, they soon came into contact with music producer John Madera. This led to a meeting with radio personality Larry Brown and record producer Artie Singer. Singer had started a small local Philly label called Singular Records, and it was there that The Juvenaires assembled to try out some of their original material. The two tunes chosen were the ballad "Sometimes When I'm All Alone" and "Do The Bop". By the time the recording was ready, the group had been renamed Danny & The Juniors (at the insistence of Singer), and the uptempo song had been renamed "At The Hop" (at the insistence of the one and only Dick Clark - according to legend). To further the story, the record was an apparent failure until fate intervened. Little Anthony & The Imperials were a no-show for American Bandstand one day in December 1957, and Clark was stuck for a replacement when he called Singer. And guess who filled in that fateful day in late '57?
True to Hollywood (or more appropriately, Philadelphia) legends, the unknowns came out a star. Their 'jumpin' little record' of "At The Hop" caused an explosion of major proportions in the Philly music world. Artie Singer's phone line jammed and the rush was on. Everybody wanted the record - Singular #711 "At The Hop" / "Sometimes". The rocking "Hop" became THE dance tune of the winter of 57-58 and ABC Paramount was the label of choice for taking over for the local Singular label. Before you could say, or even sing "you can rock it, you can roll it, do the slop, or even stroll it" the record was a certifiable monster (#9871). Number one here and abroad, a million seller (and then some), and national recognition for the Philly foursome came quickly. Package shows and many TV appearances spread their fame as the teenagers criss crossed the country performing for the multitudes. What could they possibly do for an encore ?
Junior, and main man Dave White had the answer. White had written 'Do The Bop/ At The Hop" (along with the afore mentioned Madera), and followed that up with the only thing that could measure up - a teenage and musical anthem that summed up what it was like in early 1958 - "Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay". This record too, hit like a bomb - ABC Paramount #9888 : "Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay"/ "School Boy Romance". Every parent who had any complaint about their teenager's dress, conduct, and especially their questionable musical tastes, were answered by the sound of "I don't care what people say, rock and roll is here to stay". The record was a staple of AM radio throughout the spring of 1958. Danny & The Juniors were riding high and that summer released a third up tempo boomer called "Dottie" on #9926 which was coupled with "In The Meantime". This time the magic had run out for the group as "Dottie" did very little on the charts (got into the top forty for one week) and was soon forgotten.
Two more tries for ABC Paramount came in 1958."A Thief" and "Crazy Cave" on #9953, and "I Feel So Lonely" and "Sassy Fran" on #9978. Neither did much to dent the hit charts, nor did the two releases for the label the next year - "Do You Love Me" / "Somehow I Can't Forget" on #10004, and "Of Love" and "Playing Hard To Get" on #10052. After the final failure for ABC Paramount, founder Dave White left to go into independent record production. He was replaced by Bill Carlucci and the remaining group went over to Philadelphia's Swan record label. Over the next three years the group had nine releases for Swan, with none getting any national recognition, but even the limited success kept the group working and in the public eye in the Northeast.
The first record release for Swan in 1960, #4060 - "Twistin USA" was the last top forty charted tune for Danny & The Juniors. The flip side was a cover of The Heartbeats "A Thousand Miles Away". In late 1960 #4064 featured "Candy Cane Sugar Plum" and the seasonal "Oh Holy Night". In 1961 the group had four releases for Swan- #4068 - "Pony Express" / "Daydreamer" which barely charted; "Cha Cha Go Go" / "Mr. Whisper" on #4072; "Back To The Hop" / "Charleston Fish"on #4082 which again made the slightest appearance on the national charts; and "Twisting All Night Long" ( with Freddy Cannon)/ "Some Kinds Nut" on #4092. There were two more forgettable releases on Swan through 1962 - "The Continental Walk" / "Mashed Potato" on #4100; "We Got Soul" and "Funny" for #4113; and an obscure single side for the Guyden label - "La La Limbo"/ "Now And Then"on #2076. Last and least there was a lame attempt to cash in on the twist craze (phase two) with "Twisting All Night Long" and "Twisting England" released on Top Rank #604. That seemed to play out the life of Danny & The Juniors.
There was one last go around for the group. One evening in 1970 at the New York Academy of Music on Manhattan's 14th Street, all four original guys got back together for an oldies show. The group opened and it seemed like they never left. The highlight of their four song set was a great version of "Sometimes (When I'm All Alone)", a rare live ballad performance. A great performance of "Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay" by Kenny Vance & The Planet-Tones in the film "American Hot Wax"in 1976 caused interest in the original and it sold extremely well in England that year. My own memories of that last performance are clouded by the sad fact that Danny Rapp, for whatever reasons he had, took his own life back in 1983. He may be long gone, but will forever be one of the four Philly guys in the red sweaters that created two of the more enduring anthems of the fifties. Because of those two incredible tunes, they will endure as long as music is in the air.
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