Thoughts . . . . . . . .
First and foremost - to all readers who wish additional information on the groups of the Vee-Jay label in particular, and Chicago in general, the place to go is Robert Pruter's book called "Doowop - The Chicago Scene" published by University of Illinois Press. This is the most in depth study of this form of music ever published. Because of the limited scope of the music (the area of Chicago) the detail of the written work has a history of the time that is priceless.
A most poignant scene to remember came about in the A & E network's biography of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips. An elderly but upbeat Johnny Bragg showing viewers his actual prison cell in the now deserted and abandoned Tennessee state prison and breaking out into an impromptu version of "Just Walking In The Rain" while the cameras morph back in time to a 1952 photo of Johnny & The Prisonaires taken in the same location he was standing at, and also interspersing the original Sun recording. His memories of the recording session and how not everybody among the prison population was enamored of his vocalizing were priceless. Amazingly he is still in good voice and can break off a still worthy falsetto.
Received an e-mail from David Williams regarding the Original Counts ("Darling Dear", "My Dear My Darling", etc.) that they are originally from Indianapolis (not Nashville) and that they are still singing and making personal appearances in the Midwest. This is amazing and a piece of good news and shows that the great sounds of the R & B vocal groups will never die.
There are rumors around that PBS is planning a second installment of Fifty Years of Doowop from a second concert and also unused footage and outtakes from the first show in Pittsburgh. If true, this is good news to all of us and we will be waiting for the program.
Two voices that in their way defined a decade in music were stilled recently. Douglas Henderson,known to the radio world as the often imitated never duplicated "Jocko" passed away recently. By the mid 1950s he had become a pied piper of rock 'n roll, unique at the time because of his ability to attract huge audiences of teenagers regardless of race, a talent experienced up to that time only by Alan "Moondog" Freed. His amazing popularity translated to television on then WATV in Newark, New Jersey, even though the 1957 show featured a mostly Black group of dancers. His jivey, rhymed patter set him apart as a truly one of a kind performer who will be truly missed. The second radio personality was also a Black pioneer deejay who was known by a one word moniker, and was a personality of the time. His name was Bill Mercer, but the radio world knew him as "Rosko". Although he became a main radio voice during the era of progressive rock and therefore is out of the scope of interest of this publication, I feel his passing should be noted as a reference point of the decade of the sixties.
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