Who Wrote . . . .The Monotones©2007JCMarion


The genesis of the group that came to be known as The Monotones began in Newark, New Jersey with the New Hope Baptist Church Choir. Six neighborhood friends who lived at the Baxter Terrace housing project in that city got together to try their hand at some pop tunes just for fun. The members of this fledgling vocal group were Charles Patrick lead singer, tenors George Malone and Warren Davis, baritone Warren Raynes, and not one, but two bass voices - Jim Patrick and John Raynes brothers of Charles and Waren.

The New Hope Baptist Choir also boasted some members who would later gain fame and respect as vocalists on their own such as Dionne Warwick, Cissy Houston, and Judy Clay. The group began to work on their style and presentation as so many groups did back then and soon showed up at many record hops and musical get togethers in the area. The group adopted the name The Monotones despite its negative conotation musically speaking, and soon were deemed talented enough to appear on Ted Mack's Amateur Hour television show,\. That program along with Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts gave many young performers in the early and mid fifties a chance at stardom in the entertainment field. The Monotones pulled off a victory on their first attempt, but fell to other competition during week two.

Their success on the TV show gave the group confidence to work to come out with original material and try their hand at recording. Charles Patrick came up with the outline of the jump tempo tune "Book Of Love" along with a ballad song called "You Never Loved Me". The started pitching a demo recording of the songs to a number of labels such as Fury, Winley, and Atlantic, who liked the song but not the group. They finally found a sympathetic ear in the person of Bea Caslon head of Hull Records home label of The Heartbeats and New Jersey's Avons. They recorded the tunes for the label and Hull released "Book Of Love" on their subsidiary label called Mascot on #124 at the end of 1957.

Soon it was obvious that "Book Of Love" had what it takes to be a huge national hit and that it was beyond the abilities of Hull-Mascot to do the record justice. And so the master was leased to Chess Records in Chicago, and in February of 1958 Chess released the record on its Argo label on # 5290. The hot sale numbers for the record immediately paid dividends for the group as they were signed to appear with "The Greatest Show Of Stars" presented by Irving Feld. The show would be an eighty day tour of one nighters in Canada and the U.S. Others on the bill were The Everly Brothers, Jimmie Rodgers, Sam Cooke, Clyde McPhatter, Roy Hamilton, Jackie Wilson, The Silhouettes, Royal Teens, and many others. By April "Book Of Love" was a true national hit record.

By June Argo Records readied the follow up by the group - "Tom Foolery" and "Zombi" released on # 5301. The Monotones appear with Alan Freed on his television show for Dumont in New York. In December of the year, another novelty tune "The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow" coupled with "Soft Shadows" was released on Argo # 5321. There was a great deal of hope for the new record, but sales and airplay just did not materialize for the group. By now The Monotones were on the down side of their careerand there were three more records relesed by the group, none of which had any appreciable success. "Fools Will Be Fools" / "Tell It To The Judge" on Argo # 5339, and two for the Hull label - "Dream" / "Reading The Book Of Love" on # 735, and "Daddy's Home But Mama's Gone" and "Tattletale" on # 743. The group called it quits in 1961 but did make a well received appearance at rock revival shows in New York in 1970.

There is a cd by The Monotones that contains all of the pertinent sides by the group called (what else?) "Who Wrote The Book Of Love?" released by Collectibles. It is a worthy remembrance of this one hit wonder group from Newark, New Jersey.

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