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Roburt

Mid 50's Doo-Wop Group

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Hopefully some knowledgeable person such as Robb K can help me out here.

I'm trying to track down info on a recording group who made an appearance at the Club Ambassador in Baltimore in October 1954.

Baltimore clubs in the early to mid 1950's were almost 'owned' by jazz ensembles, with very few vocal groups securing decent local gigs.

This fact amazes me as some of the top black harmony groups in that period were actually from Baltimore (the Orioles, Cardinals, Swallows, Bobby Hall & the Kings, the Plants, Four Buddies, Magictones, Honey Boys, etc).

Many of the local vocal groups enjoyed big US R&B hits and were soon off undertaking national tours but they didn't seem to secure many local club gigs before their national successes or after things cooled down for them & they returned to their hometown.

Anyway, back to my question. A group that did land a local club gig were the Scale-tones who were advertised as being Olympic Records recording artists.

Now, I can find a Scale-tones who cut for Jay Dee in 1956. This outfit had ties with the Dubs / 5 Wings / Marvels (all these groups being New York based). Anyone know of a group by this name that had a deal with Olympic Records in 1954 ?

And would that Olympic Records be the New York based outfit that went out of business in the early 60's ?

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I remember that The Scaletones had a record released by Jerry Blaine's Josie Records. They were located in New York, but several Baltimore, DC and North Carolina groups recorded for them and their sister label, Jubilee Records. The early 1960s New York label, Olympic Records, which featured The Avalons among other groups was NOT the same label as the 1954 Olympic Records (as far as I know). I would guess that the 1954 Olympic Records group is the SAME group as the Jay Dee/Josie group. Most of the North Carolina, DC, and Baltimore groups migrated to New York to appear in the clubs there and, most importantly, to get recording contracts. I remember the Scaletones/Scale-Tones. I always thought they were a NY group, because they appeared in clubs in the NY area, and recorded for NY labels. But, they could easily have been originally from Baltimore.

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Thanks for that Robb.

What acts had releases out on Olympic Records in the mid 50's ??

The stupid thing about the club scene in Baltimore in the early through to late 50's was that just about all the clubs / bars that featured live acts (& there were dozens of them) booked jazz outfits on an almost permanent basis.

I have found details of very few bookings in the city for the large number of local R&B groups (even the ones that were enjoying national record releases & were having big hits). Of course, once a group got a hit they were straight off to New York to perform at places like the Apollo and then they were booked onto the national chitlin-circuit. But just about the only venue that the hit groups got to play was on a package that was booked into the Royal Theatre.

However, before a local outfit landed a record deal, they seemed to struggle to land decent local gigs. Yet, NY based record labels were willing to offer them contracts -- seems a strange situation to me.

Lots of local acts went on to enjoy long & productive music careers, Sonny Til & his Orioles, George Jackson from the Plants and more.

Bobby Hall & the Kings (who 1st recorded in 1953) eventually morphed into Little Hooks & the Kings who were still going strong in 1963 (when they were signed to Chess). A further 45 by them escaped in 1965 .......

The group certainly had staying power as they still putting out records into the 1970's (having tracks picked up by UA for national distribution).

Edited by Roburt

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Little Hooks & the Kings in 1972 ..............

Back in the late 50's (just after Bobby Hall had quit the music biz), the group went from strength to strength with a RCA contract.

It seems the group's longevity was due to the fact that all the guys took steady day jobs & only treated performing / recording as a 'hobby'.

Edited by Roburt

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As I've moved on to Little Hooks & the Kings now on this thread .............

In 1963, the group's 45 "Count Your Blessings" originally issued on Adolphus' own Century label was picked up for release by Little Rick Records and then Chess Records.

Little Rick Records was owned / run by NY DJ 'Little Rick' (Richard Ziegler) and another 45 to escape on the label (eventually was (Jive 5's) Richard Fisher and his great cut "Turn The Page".

Can anyone confirm that Little Rick (who co-wrote the Jive 5's UA 45 track "A Bench In The Park" around Sept 65) also ran the Ricki label that released the Twilighters "Help Me" at the very start of 1961.

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Thanks for that Robb.

What acts had releases out on Olympic Records in the mid 50's ??

I can't remember what other artists were on the 1950s Olympic Records. I do remember seeing a few 78s on Olympic. But I don't remember ever seeing a 45 of that label. I couldn't find ANYTHING on Google about that label.

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It struck me just how many 'obscure' 1950's doo-wop groups gave a start to guys who became big hitters in the music / recording biz in the 60's / 70's.

As an example there was a NY based outfit who went by the name of the Fi-Tones (they had started life as the Cavaliers).

Although the group never really enjoyed a big national hit, the likes of Gene Redd Jr and Cecil Holmes made their music biz start in the group.

Van McCoy sang with the Embracers, the Starlighters & then the Marylanders before forming a duo with his love interest Kendra Spotswood (Sandi Sheldon). 

Also in the Embracers were George Kerr & Sidney Barnes. Both guys were also in the Serenaders and Timothy Wilson was also a member of that group.

Teddy Randazzo was in the Three Chuckles (what a useless name for a serious group).

Lots of other guys who would go on to enjoy long music biz careers were inspired in the 50's by the likes of Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers to form / join groups.

Many seemed to be New York based though.

Were similar outfits being formed in (say) Chicago, LA and the like, with guys involved back then going on to enjoy similar musical success ?? 

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It struck me just how many 'obscure' 1950's doo-wop groups gave a start to guys who became big hitters in the music / recording biz in the 60's / 70's.

As an example there was a NY based outfit who went by the name of the Fi-Tones (they had started life as the Cavaliers).

Although the group never really enjoyed a big national hit, the likes of Gene Redd Jr and Cecil Holmes made their music biz start in the group.

Van McCoy sang with the Embracers, the Starlighters & then the Marylanders before forming a duo with his love interest Kendra Spotswood (Sandi Sheldon). 

Also in the Embracers were George Kerr & Sidney Barnes. Both guys were also in the Serenaders and Timothy Wilson was also a member of that group.

Teddy Randazzo was in the Three Chuckles (what a useless name for a serious group).

Lots of other guys who would go on to enjoy long music biz careers were inspired in the 50's by the likes of Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers to form / join groups.

Many seemed to be New York based though.

Were similar outfits being formed in (say) Chicago, LA and the like, with guys involved back then going on to enjoy similar musical success ?? 

Yes, Chicago, Detroit, L.A, SF, Cleveland, Cincinatti, etc.  all had R&B bloomings with people who had later success in Soul music.

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Yes, Chicago, Detroit, L.A, SF, Cleveland, Cincinatti, etc.  all had R&B bloomings with people who had later success in Soul music.

Can you name a few of the people involved Robb ?

(BTW that's not coz I doubt you, I'm just wanting to know who they were).

I know guys like Wally Roker (ex Heartbeats), Dee Ervin (Pastels) and the like started out in NY and ended up running labels in LA, but which guys stayed in their home city and moved up the label management chain there.

Lots of guys involved in doo-wop groups were ripped off by the record execs when they started out and some of them returned the favour when they were 'in charge'. It always was a ruthless biz.  

Edited by Roburt

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