Remembering The Rocketones©2005JCMarion


Once upon a time there was a vocal group made up of five Brooklyn teenagers who called themselves The Avalons. They were Bill Witt, Allen Days, Harold Chapman, Ron Johnson, and Arthur Blackman. After many hours harmonizing in the school halls and on the streetcorners of their neighborhood. When the boys felt that they were ready for an attempt to put out a record they headed over to Manhattan and made the rounds of the independent record companies. The most encouragement the group received was from record man Morty Craft who at the time was the head of Melba Records. When the arrived for rehearsals for their time in the recording studio, they ran through two songs that Bill Witt had written for the group. The songs were "Mexico" and "Dee I". Although the group had recorded the sides, the actual record was not released for a number of months. Finally in 1957, the record was released on Melba # 113. The Avalons were surprised that they had become The Rocketones, due to other groups using their original name. Also their version of "Mexico" had been given some added 'atmosphere' with the obvious spliced in intro of the tyraditional Pasa Dobles - the authentic call to order at bull fights in Spain. It may have been a surprise to the group that made the record, but to listeners it was a rock classic. It had an irresistable "hook" that never seemed to leave your mind for any length of time, and it was a hummable tune that made you snap your fingers and smile. "Mexico" was a favorite on radio in the Northeast and gave a lot of promise of things to come from the group.

But unbelievably, that was the entire history of the group known as The Rocketones. In a year Bill Witt went on to join The Paragons and other groups in future years. The others drifted away, some to the military and the group never recorded again. So we have the archetype example of the "one hit wonders" so prevalent in the age of the rock 'n roll single records. But what a one hit it was. One of the greatest jump tunes by a vocal group in the fifities, "Mexico" is the perfect example of the glory of the times.

 

Memories of The Quin-Tones©2005 JCMarion


The story of the Quin-Tones begins in the small city of York, Pennsylvania, this time outside of the periphery of Philadelphia. There was a vocal group formed by a number of students at William Penn High School in that city called The Quinteros. The members were Roberta Haymon, Jeannie Crist, Phyllis Carr, Carolyn Holmes, and a male member Ken Sexton. The group made their way in the local area gaining name recognition at high school dances and other formal gatherings. Soon a radio disc jockey from Harrisburg named Paul landersman got involved with the group and lended his managerial skills to help them on their way. At this time in late 1957 the group also underwent a name change to The Quin-Tones.

In February the new group travelled to Philadelphia to enter the recording studio for the first time. The songs recorded were "Ding Dong" and "I Try So Hard". They were eventually released on Chess # 1685, but the record was almost invisible from the start. The next session in the studio for the group took pplace in the spring of 1958 and this time the group performed a songt that they had written themselves called "Down The Aisle Of Love". For the flip side of the record The Quin-Tones recorded "Please Dear". The record was originally released on a local Philadelphia label called Red Top Records on # 108, but the song "Down The Aisle" was an immediate seller and Red Top soon sold the master to Hunt Records and on # 321 the side had national distribution. During the summer the record sold well in all parts of the country and got into the pop music charts and broke into the top twenty records in the nation.

In late August of the year The Quin-Tones made an appearance at New York's Apollo Theater along with The Spaniels, Coasters, Olympics, and others. In September the group appears on Dick Clark's national network television program. That same month "There'll Be No Sorrows" and "What Am I To Do?" was released by Hunt on # 322 but did not sell. The group had one last record for Red Top in 1959. It consisted of "I Watch The Stars" and a cover version of Edna McGriff's earlier R & B hit ballad "Heavenly Father" on # 116. It also failed to sell for the group. By 1960 the Quin-Yones had broken up and are today but another memory of the golden age of vocal groups final years. Their one big chart hit still brings back many smiles of those who remember the music back in the day.

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