December 30, 2017 – Lord Luther McDaniels, lead singer of vocal group the 4 Deuces, was born in Panola County, Texas in 1938. He never knew his father, who was killed in an accident soon after Luther was born. Mostly raised by his grandmother, he joined the Mitchell Brothers gospel group when he was about 11 or 12. While Luther had no musical training, he still traveled with the group all over East Texas, appearing in many gospel group “battles.” Around the end of World War 2, his mother remarried and moved to Salinas, California, about a hundred miles south of San Francisco (his new stepfather was stationed at Fort Ord in Monterey, only a few miles away). Luther went to California, decided he didn’t like it, went back to Texas, decided California wasn’t that bad, and returned to California to stay, settling in the fertile Salinas Valley south of the Bay Area, a region often referred to as America’s Salad Bowl. Continue reading Lord Luther McDaniels 12/2017
November 24, 2017 – Mitch Margo (The Tokens) was born on May 25, 1947 in New York City. He began singing a cappella at age 9 alongside his brother Phil.
Young Margo learned to play piano in those early days, but over the years established himself as a multi-instrumentalist, also playing guitar, bass, drums and percussion.
Margo was a student at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn when he and his brother joined the Linc-Tones, also featuring Neal Sedaka, Hank Mendress and original member Tokens founder Jay Siegel, who soon renamed themselves the Tokens and recorded “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” while Mitch was just 14 years old. Continue reading Mitch Margo 11/2017
January 20, 2017 – Ronald ‘Bingo’ Mungo was born April 20, 1940 in Alleghany County, Pennsylvania. Just out of high school he joined the doo wop group The Marcels, named after a popular 1950s hairstyle ‘the Marcel wave’.
The group formed in 1959 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and signed to Colpix Records with lead Cornelius Harp, bass Fred Johnson, Gene Bricker, Ron Mundy, and Richard Knauss.
In 1961, the Marcels recorded a new version of the ballad “Blue Moon” that began with the bass singer saying, “bomp-baba-bomp” and “dip-da-dip”. A demo tape sent to Colpix Records landed them at New York’s RCA Studios in February 1961 to record, among other things, a rockin’ doo-wop version of the Rodgers and Hart classic “Blue Moon” with an intro they had been using on their take of The Cadillacs’ “Zoom.” As legend has it, the day he heard it, New York DJ Murray the K played “Blue Moon” 26 times in a four-hour show. In March 1961, the song knocked Elvis Presley off the top of the Billboard chart, becoming the first No. 1 rock ’n’ roll hit out of Pittsburgh. Continue reading Ronald ‘Bingo’ Mundy 1/2017
December 24, 2000 – Nick Massi was born Nicholas Macioci in Newark, New Jersey on September 19, 1927. Bass singer and bass guitarist for the Four Seasons, he had been playing with several bands before joining The Four Lovers in 1958.
After the group evolved into the Four Seasons in 1961, he handled bass vocals and vocal arrangements throughout the band’s glory days, which resulted in international hits such as “Sherry,” “Dawn (Go Away),” and “Rag Doll”. During his tenure, the group made the Billboard Top 40 chart 17 times and toured throughout the United States and overseas, melding doo- wop vocals with a contemporary beat. He remained with the group until 1965, when he grew tired of touring and the first antics that landed some of the band members briefly in jail. He continued his career in music however as he worked as an arranger, vocal coach, and engineer in numerous New Jersey studios, with bands such as the Baby Toys, the Carmels, and the Victorians.
It was Massi’s pop savvy that allowed the Four Seasons to be one of the few American bands, along with the Beach Boys, to weather the British invasion, as they continued to release successful singles after the arrival of The Beatles such as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man” and “Rag Doll,” which friends said was his favorite.
July 27, 1990 – Bobby Day was born Robert James Byrd on July 1st 1928 in Fort Worth, Texas.
An African American rock and roll and R&B singer and keyboardist in Texas in the 1940s, Day moved to Los Angeles, California, at the age of 15. As a member of the R&B group the Hollywood Flames he used the stage name Bobby Day to perform and record. He went several years with minor musical success limited to the West Coast, including being the original “Bob” in the duo Bob & Earl.
In 1957 Day formed his own band called the Satellites, following which he recorded three songs that are seen today as rock and roll classics. Despite the similarity in personal and group names, this is not the Bobby Byrd that sang with, and was the founder of, the Famous Flames, the vocal group with which James Brown first began his career.
Day’s best known songwriting efforts were “Over and Over” made popular by the Dave Clark Five in 1965, and “Little Bitty Pretty One” popularized by Thurston Harris in 1957, Clyde McPhatter in 1962, and the Jackson Five in 1972. However, Day is most remembered for his 1958 solo recording of the Billboard Hot 100 No. 2 hit, “Rockin’ Robin”, written by Leon Rene under the pseudonym Jimmie Thomas. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold record. “Rockin’ Robin” was a song covered by Bob Luman at Town Hall Party on October 28, 1958, The Hollies in 1964, Gene Vincent in 1969, Michael Jackson in 1972, and by McFly in 2006.
In 2012-2013, his uncharted recording, “Beep-Beep-Beep”, was the musical soundtrack for a Kia Sorento television commercial shown nationwide in the U.S.
Day died of intestinal cancer on July 27, 1990 at the age of 62.