Goldmine’s 20 greatest doo-wop groups

By Phill Marder

If you grew up in Philadelphia in the ’50s, you danced to The Orioles, The Moonglows, The Penguins, The Five Satins and a lot more as the City of Brotherly Love — along with its big brother, New York City —  became the home base for street-corner vocalization.

It became known as doo-wop. Back then, we just called it rock and roll. Today, I’m still a little fuzzy as to what exactly makes a song doo-wop. You just know it when you hear it.

(Love doo-wop? Check out “The Doo-Wop Songbook”!)

The nation heard it on Philly’s “Bandstand,” hosted by Dick Clark. But in Philadelphia, we heard more on the radio, mainly thanks to three of the greatest deejays in rock history: the late Georgie Woods and Hy Lit, and the still-going-strong Jerry Blavat.

Woods, “the man with the goods,” broke “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke, named Jerry Butler “The Ice Man” because he was so cool and coined the phrase “blue-eyed soul” for The Righteous Brothers. Referring to New York City, he called it “New York, New York, the city so nice, they had to name it twice.”

The Cadillacs

The Cadillacs. Courtesy Music Nostalgia.

Lit was the main man on WIBG Radio 99, the 50,000-watt Philly giant that issued a Top 99 list each week and played every one of those records, plus new releases. No Top 40 there. Lit chanted, “Calling all my beats, beards, Buddhist cats, big-time spenders, money lenders, teetotalers, elbow benders, hog callers, home-run hitters, finger-poppin’ daddies and cool baby sitters. For all my carrot tops, lollipops and extremely delicate gum drops. It’s HyskiORoonieMcVoutiOZoot calling, uptown, downtown, crosstown. Here there, everywhere. Your man with the plan, on the scene with the record machine.”

Blavat rapped constantly, talking right over the records he was playing. But “The Geator With The Heater,” which remains his tag today, played almost exclusively what has come to be known as doo-wop, so we heard many great records that weren’t national hits.

Today, “the Boss with the Hot Sauce” continues spinning those oldies in the Philly area, particularly the Jersey Shore. And I’m talking about the real Jersey Shore: The Wildwoods, Ocean City, Margate, Stone Harbor, Avalon.

The Chantels

The Chantels. Courtesy Music Nostalgia.

Wildwood stakes a claim as the birthplace of rock and roll because Bill Haley And The Comets first performed “Rock Around The Clock” there in 1954. Described as “irreplaceable icons of popular culture,” Wildwood’s doo-wop-style hotels and motels, placed on a national list of endangered places a few years back, emphasize the town’s dedication to keeping the doo-wop culture alive and well. Last year, in an outdoor concert, I had the pleasure of seeing doo-wop legends The Duprees and Vito and The Salutations perform live.

What made doo-wop so popular? Shower rooms after football practice when you could put five or six teenagers — usually all male — in a ready-made echo chamber. All that was needed was one bass voice to go “mope-itty mope mope de mope mope mope” and the rest of the gang chimed in. Each knew his part, and it sounded great. At least we thought it did. (By the way, if Pat Prince finds a photo of the Boss-Tones, he automatically wins “editor of the year.”)

Four guys could walk down Main Street in the rain singing “Every time it rains it rains,” and, of course, the bass voice would take over with “Pennies From Heaven.” The key? No instruments. Doo-wop could be sung anywhere, by anyone, at any time. All you needed were some voices, but a street corner was an added bonus.

When I received this assignment — the 20 greatest doo-wop groups — I thought it would be fun. Then, I realized how hard it would be to limit the list to 20 when every doo-wop group was so good. So, I conveniently lost count. Many of your favorites — and mine — will be left out due to space limitations. These may not be the greatest in your ears, but, for one reason or another, each sticks out in mine.

The Cadillacs
If the Cadillacs had done nothing more than the classic “Speedo,” they’d be remembered. But their catalog is one of doo-wop’s finest, led by the definitive version of doo-wop’s definitive ballad, “Gloria.” Throw in “Peek-A-Boo,” on which the group out-Coastered the Coasters (“Look in the dark, you see my face —aaaaaaaaaaaaa! Don’t try to hide, I’m every place!) Who could ask for more?

The Clovers

The Clovers. Courtesy Rhino Records.

The Chantels
The Chantels notched three national hits before The Shirelles got their first. The biggest, of course, was the group’s signature song, “Maybe,” which became one of doo-wop’s signature songs, as well. The song  has been covered since, but even Janis Joplin couldn’t match the vocal of soprano high-schooler Arlene Smith.


The Clovers

Well before the onslaught of rock and roll, The Clovers were topping the charts with 19 Top 10 hits between 1951 and 1956, most of which were covered later. Among others, “Lovey Dovey” was done by Clyde McPhatter; “One Mint Julep” became an instrumental hit for Ray Charles; “Devil Or Angel” was a smash for Bobby Vee, and, of course, there was “Love Potion No. 9,” which reached No. 3 for The Searchers, though they left out the crucial last verse: “I had so much fun that I’m going back again. I wonder what happens with Love Potion No. 10?”

 The Coasters

I’m not sure much of their material was doo-wop, but all they needed was “Searchin’” and “Young Blood” to make this list, and they put them both on the same 45!


The Coasters

The Crests

This group had all the bases covered with three black members (one female), one Puerto Rican and one Italian-American. The key was the Italian-American, lead singer Johnny Maestro, who became one of rock’s most-beloved vocalists, fronting not only  The Crests but later The Brooklyn Bridge. “16 Candles” was followed by many other big hits, but my personal favorite was a B-side, “Gee (But I’d Give The World).” What an ending.

The Del Vikings

Sometimes known as the Del-Vikings, sometimes the Dell-Vikings, the history of this group is more convoluted than any except, perhaps, The Hollywood Flames. Suffice it to say that the body of work left by variations of the group over several different labels is, for the most part, of high quality topped by two of the greatest recordings in Rock history: “Come Go With Me” and “Whispering Bells.”

The Diamonds
The Diamonds, from Toronto, were a terrific group. The group’s covers — “Little Darlin,’” for example — often buried its originals. But in addition to the nine major hits The Diamonds had with covers from 1956 to 1961, the group also gave us “The Stroll,” “High Sign” and “She Say (Oom Dooby Doom),” all major hits and all originals. Great listening and fun to watch.


Dion And The Belmonts

Dion & The Belmonts
Between 1958 and 1960, this group from the Bronx gave us a string of unforgettable performances, starting with the doo-wop anthem “I Wonder Why.” The revival of the 1937 smash “Where Or When” was the group’s biggest, reaching No. 3, but to doo-wop afficionados, the flip, “That’s My Desire,” was just as good.

The Drifters

The greatest of them all? Certainly could be. At least there’s one non-debatable fact — The Drifters had more great lead singers than any group in history. First was Clyde McPhatter, then Ben E. King, Charlie Thomas, Rudy Lewis and Johnny Moore. They had more hits than most groups, too.

The Duprees

Jersey City guys, the Duprees specialized in remakes of early classics, coming up with four gems in “You Belong To Me,” a 1952 hit for Jo Stafford, “My Own True Love,” from “Gone With The Wind,” and “Why Don’t You Believe Me?” and “Have You Heard?” — both hits for Joni James in the early ’50s.

The Flamingos

The Flamingos had just one major hit record, but the group was so good, some of its misses are classics today. The hit was the impeccable “I Only Have Eyes For You,” with the haunting background of “dobop, dobop” or whatever it is. One of the misses was the incredible “Lovers Never Say Goodbye.”

Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers

Frankie Lymon was just 13 when he wrote and recorded one of the all-time classic rock and roll hits, “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?” The Teenagers had other hits, but their legacy of doo-wop classics also includes the non-charting but heavily played “Paper Castles” and “Out In The Cold Again.”

The Heartbeats/Shep & The Limelights

Members of many groups come and go, but these two are tied tightly together by lead singer-songwriter James Sheppard. With The Heartbeats, Sheppard failed to produce anational hit, but “A Thousand Miles Away” became a doo-wop great, and almost everything that followed became a radio staple. When The Heartbeats split up, Sheppard founded Shep & The Limelites and penned a sequel to “A Thousand Miles Away.” The resulting “Daddy’s Home” rocketed to No. 2 in 1961. He couldn’t follow it up, but “Three Steps From The Altar” and “Our Anniversary” were valiant attempts.

Jay & The Americans

The group’s first single and album, “She Cried” with lead singer Jay Traynor, fit solidly into the doo-wop camp, as did follow-up single “This Is It.” But when Jay Black took over as lead, the group’s doo-wop ties lessened. In the late ’60s, the group returned to its roots with two albums firmly rooted in the doo-wop camp — “Sands Of Time” and “Wax Museum” — featuring covers of doo-wop classics, some of which became hits all over again.

Lee Andrews & The Hearts

These Philadelphians make up one of the most underrated vocal groups in Rock history. In 1957, they gave us two doowop greats, “Long Lonely Nights” and “Tear Drops.” The next year they followed with “Try The Impossible.” In Philly, “Maybe You’ll Be There,” “Just Suppose,” “Cold Gray Dawn” and “I’m Sorry Pillow” were other great ballads in heavy rotation, while the uptempo “Glad To Be Here” and “The Clock,” the flip of “Long Lonely Nights,” also were Philly favorites.

Little Anthony & The Imperials

The greatest opening line in rock and roll? “You don’t remember me … But I remember you.” What makes it so great? I haven’t a clue. It just grabbed me when I was a kid and hasn’t let go. “Tears On My Pillow” went to No. 4, but in doo-wop circles, the flip, “Two People In The World,” is almost as important. Other doo-wop giants followed: “So Much,” “When You Wish Upon A Star” and “Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop.” After a four-year lull, the group returned with another doo-wop gem, “I’m On The Outside (Looking In),” setting the stage for a monstrous comeback featuring “Goin’ Out Of My Head,” “Hurt So Bad” and “Take Me Back.”

The Miracles

Most Motown groups sounded like, well, Motown. But The Miracles, particularly their early releases, fit into doo-wop right down to the primitive, garage-like sound of the recordings. Even the group’s initial effort, “Got A Job,” was a direct response to The Silhouettes’ doo-wop standard “Get A Job.” “Bad Girl,” “Shop Around,” “I’ve Been Good To You,” “I’ll Try Something New,” “Way Over There” and “Depend On Me” all permeated doo-wop radio playlists before the group evolved into a giant hit machine.

The Orioles

Baltimore’s Orioles (no pun intended) generally are considered the first of the doo-wop vocal groups, and, as such, obviously stand as one of the genre’s greats. Led by the velvety-voiced Sonny Til, their group’s first effort, “It’s Too Soon To Know” topped the R&B charts and hit No. 13 on the national charts in 1948 — long before the start of rock and roll but when the foundation of doo-wop was taking shape. The Orioles became major stars and Til was a genuine heartthrob, but, despite prolific recording, there were no more hits until 1953, when “Crying In The Chapel” topped the R&B charts and hit No. 11 on the national charts.

The Platters

I’m 9 years old in a giant arcade on the Wildwood Boardwalk. I’m surrounded by pinball machines and skeeball ramps, and this Wurlitzer is blasting “Only You,” “The Great Pretender” and “My Prayer.” If you’ve never been there, done that … that spells “doo-wop!” With seven top 10 records, with four that hit No. 1, and one of the great lead voices in rock history in Tony Williams. What else need be said?

The Rays

What this group might have done if tragedy hadn’t struck? “Silhouettes” was maybe the greatest record ever, and I loved it so much I ran to the record store and bought it on the pale blue XYZ label before Cameo even grabbed it. And the flip, “Daddy Cool,” wasn’t chopped liver, either.

The Shirelles

The greatest female vocal group in the history of rock and roll, bar none. From 1958 until 1963, almost every side the group released became a doo-wop treasure. My favorite? “Blue Holiday,” the flip of “Mama Said.”

The Skyliners

When I was in high school, the “gang” I was in was named The Skyliners. It wasn’t a gang like you think of today, just a group of guys who played ball, drank beer and sang doo-wop together. Why the Skyliners? Because they were so damn great.

The Spaniels

I had this album by The Spaniels when I was a kid. Collectors will know it. It’s the one with the five dogs at the bottom of the cover and “The Spaniels” across the top. I bought it because the lead cut, “I Know,” bowled me over. But it also contained “Stormy Weather,” and almost every cut was an out-and-out gem. I wore it out.

Phill’s Honorable Mention

Now I’m going to cheat a little. With so many groups and so many memories, here are some of my favorites:
• “Sh-Boom” by The Chords (incredible vocal);

• “Little Girl Of Mine” (diddalidda lidda liddalit) and “Heart & Soul” by The Cleftones (yeah);

• “Stay” (make that 45 stay a little bit longer) by Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs

• “Buzz Buzz Buzz” by The Hollywood Flames (great great great);

• “Rama Lama Ding Dong” by The Edsels (more cowbell!);

• “Blue Moon” by The Marcels;

• “I Do” by The Marvelows (doo-wop smack dab in the middle of the British Invasion, and great drums);

• “Stranded In The Jungle” by The Cadets (Great googly moogly, lemme outta here);

• “Over And Over” by Bobby Day (including the last verse, which the Dave Clark Five missed);
• “Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home)” by The Impalas (Uh oh, whack that snare);

• “At My Front Door” by The El Dorados (wop wop doodly wop — wop wop);

“There’s A Moon Out Tonight” by The Capris (moon out tonight, moon out tonight, moon out tonight) and “Morse Code Of Love” (ditdotditit);

• “Hushabye” by The Mystics (thanks Doc);

• “Tonight I Fell In Love” by The Tokens (long before the lion, there was dumdoobiedum whoa oh).

• “Zoom Zoom Zoom” by The Collegians (kids stompin’ so hard, you’d swear the floor was gonna give);

• “Trickle Trickle” by The Videos (years before there were videos);

• “Who’s That Knocking” by The Genies (boom boom boom bang bang bang);

• “Tonite, Tonite” by The Mello-Kings (the perfect grind song);

• “My True Story” and “What Time Is It” by The Jive Five (better hurry up and put my tie on);

• “Book Of Love” by The Monotones (yeah);

• “Peanuts” by Little Joe and The Thrillers (left me shell shocked  … sorry);

• “Imagination” by The Quotations (gimmeimamamagination);

• “Just To Be With You” by The Passions;

• “Could This Be Magic?” and
“Don’t Ask Me (To Be Lonely)” by The Dubs;

• “Remember Then” by The Earls.

43 thoughts on “Goldmine’s 20 greatest doo-wop groups

  1. Loved reading Goldmines’ Top 20 Doo Wop Groups! One question though: where is The Five Satins’ “In The Still of The Night”? Thanks

  2. Good question Ray – It’s right next to “To The Aisle” in the Holy Crap I forgot the 5 Satins section !!

  3. I agree how can you leave out the Five Satins “IN the still of the night, also you need “You Cheated You lied” by the Shields, “just Because” by Lloyd Price, “A causal look” I think by the Teens, “One summer night” by the Danleers, “Oh what a night” by the Dells. I love reading the Godmines articels on Doo Wop, I grew up in the 50’s so all those great songs are part of me.
    Keep up the good work

  4. How about adding the Moonglows (10 Commandments of Love) and dropping the Miracles. They were more Motown.

  5. Great to see Goldmine finally return to its roots. It was originally a doo-wop magazine, but now rarely features it. When you add the Five Satins, you should also add the Penguins. Although Earth Angel was their only big hit, and The Five Satins had many, Earth Angel and In The Still Of The Night always vied for the top favorite spot. The Moonglows should be near the top of the list. The Five Keys, The Dells, The Classics, The Harptones, The Hilltoppers, The Paragons, The Rivieras and so may others.

    Great job, but too bad it wasn’t the top 30 or 40 or 50 or ……

    Thanks and Regards,

  6. Personal faves not yet listed:
    “Oh My Angel”-Bertha Tillman (Hank Blackman & the Killers)
    “Happy Happy Birthday Baby”-Tune Weavers
    “My Saddest Hour”-Five Keys
    “In My Diary”-Moonglows (descending arpeggios!?)
    “Lover”-Jimmy Jones & Pretenders
    To answer the rhetorical Little Anthony question: He was the finest stylist to come out of a field packed with Lymons, Lesters, and Fred Parris’; no mean feat! His phrasing is in the Billie Holiday league, and he still can do it.

  7. Although they may have recorded some “doo-wop” songs, Jay and the Americans and the Miracles were not doo-wop groups! Jay and the Americans and the Four Seasons (who actually DID start out as a doo-wop group) were just white groups who sang in the Beatles’ era. While they did harmonize, they sounded nothing like Willie Winfield and the Harptones or even Dion and the Belmonts. Same goes for the Miracles…they were a soul group who started out singing doo-wop songs. None of these three groups qualify as having hits during the doo-wop era. The Coasters were more of an r&b comedy group (with the exception of “Zing Went The Strings of My Heart”. The Diamonds were a white cover group, preventing the real singers of the doo-wop songs to get their due, their credit for the songs (and money!) There are so many real doo-wop groups you could have substiuted for these groups. I go back to the days when the late Rick Whitsell was the editor of your paper, more than thirty years ago.

  8. Dear Suzanne –
    I’ll try to answer your concerns, if I may. First, Jay & the Americans and the Four Seasons were riding high on the charts beginning in early 1962, over two years before anyone heard of the Beatles. I thought I explained pretty well my reasons for including Jay & the Americans, so please read their section again. And also listen to the three albums noted. It’s hard for me to defend my inclusion of the Four Seasons since they weren’t included in the article, though they are one of my favorite groups.

    You noted they didn’t sound like the Harptones or Dion & the Belmonts. Why would they want to? The Harptones didn’t sound like Dion & the Belmonts and vice versa, yet they’re both considered doowop.

    The Miracles you classify as “a soul group that started out singing doowop” and claim that they, like Jay & the Americans and the Four Seasons, did not “qualify as having hits during the doowop era.” Again, we seem to disagree on our time lines. The Miracles started having hits in 1958. I would classify them as a doowop group that evolved into a soul group, not the reverse. And if you eliminate them, then we probably should eliminate the Dells, Little Anthony & the Imperials and a few others who started out as doowop and evolved into soul.

    I believe I explained my inclusion of the Coasters and Diamonds adequately.

    You concluded, “There are so many real doo-wop groups you could have substiuted for these groups.” I bring you back to this paragraph, not the article’s headline (which I did not write):

    “When I received this assignment — the 20 greatest doo-wop groups — I thought it would be fun. Then, I realized how hard it would be to limit the list to 20 when every doo-wop group was so good. So, I conveniently lost count. Many of your favorites — and mine — will be left out due to space limitations. These may not be the greatest in your ears, but, for one reason or another, each sticks out in mine.”

    It’s all in fun, Suzanne. I suggest you submit your own list. I’d love to see it and I’m sure our readers would, too

  9. For Bob McCune –

    Here’s a few of mine that didn’t make the cut besides “Happy Happy Birthday Baby” How ’bout “Guided Missiles” by the Cuff Links and “Over The Mountain; Across The Sea” by Johnnie & Joe. “Everyday Of The Week” and “I’m So Young” by the Students, “Rama Lama Ding Dong” by the Edsels (MORE COWBELL!!) “You Cheated” by the Shields and “Desiree” by the Charts.

    Maybe we need a Part Two of this article?

  10. The Five Satins “(I Remember) In the still of the night is widely considered to be the most popular Doo Wop song of all time, yet its missing here……. It sat at CBS’s FM oldies chart at the top for years.

  11. Some of those songs, I’ve never heard them so I am going to look them up on You Tube.

  12. Thanks for your reply, Phill. Since the omission of the Five Satins was an oversight, I can still enjoy your article because somewhere on that list, lies The Five Satins. From my perspective, it doesn’t matter whether The Five Satins are at the top of the list, or the bottom of the list, or wherever. I did not get the impression that your list was listed in numerical order. Kind of trying to list one’s children in of most favorite to least favorite, Can’t do it. I think that to get a real comprehensive list of the best/greatest Doo Wop groups, we would need probably need to start with at least a Top 100 list, to get the most coverage for our buck. The Top 20 list in your article is an excellent starting point to get to that Top 100 (or so) list.

  13. Ray –

    Thanks Ray. Actually, it was alphabetical until I got to the honorable mentions. Then it was every man – or group – for himself. Top 100? That would be fun, but I’m sure I’d leave someone’s favorite out no matter how many we did.

  14. Thanks, Phil Marder. Your article was terrific and brought back so many fond memories to me as a kid growing up in Philly and vacationing, and just plain driving over to Wildwood every summer whenever we got the chance. The musical backdrop to these years was just as you wrote: listening to those great songs on WIBG or WDAS and whatever station Jerry Blavat happened to be on at the time. After reading your comments in the article, I vividly remember cursing at the car radio at the Geator for yakking at the beginning and end of each song he played. He had the best doo wop lineup of songs ever, and he continues to keep the music alive at the shore to this day.
    Phil, your article is appreciated by many of us who grew up in that area and era. Peace.
    Jack Donadio

  15. I’ve always loved group harmony! Too me the greatest songs are the ones I hear at anytime that give me that good feeling. I love a great beginning, a sax solo, and a powerful finish! And acapella is where it all started for me. I have Brooklyn memories that will never leave me! Great forum to share, thanks.

  16. Technically, the article concerned doowop “groups” and Jack Scott was a solo artist. But Ted, Jack was the first entry in my “Great Blogs Of Fire” series on artists who should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame…It’s still available to read, so check it out. Just click on blogs & go to Great Blogs of Fire.

  17. Anybody who says that THE MIRACLES don’t belong on the Top 20 List obviously doesn’t remember their original Doo-Wop hits…like GOT A JOB ,(YOU CAN) DEPEND ON ME, BAD GIRL,ALL I WANT IS YOU,I NEED A CHANGE,I NEED SOME MONEY, MAMA DONE TOLD ME, and WAY OVER THERE. The MIRACLES, The IMPERIALS, and The DELLS, were the LIVING LINKS between the DOO-WOP music of the Fifties…and the SOUL MUSIC that came later. Just because these groups (along with THE IMPRESSIONS) were able to change and adapt to the changing times, and have hits during the Soul Music era, when many of their Doo-Wop contemporaries faded from the charts…doesn’t mean they weren’t authentic Doo-Wop groups. One listen to The Miracles’ “OOO BABY BABY”, THE IMPERIALS’ “I’M ON THE OUTSIDE (LOOKING IN)”,THE IMPRESSIONS’ “GYPSY WOMAN”, and THE DELLS’ “STAY IN MY CORNER” will confirm that. If anything, these groups KEPT DOO-WOP ALIVE !!!

  18. RE: SUZANNE ~~Dave Seville and The Diamonds never made any bones about ‘Little Darlin’ being composed by Maurice Williams, and made sure he not only had composing credits but received his proper royalties–the two groups remain on good terms today, as their appearance on TJ Lubinski’s Do Wop show indicted. The real damage was done by other people like Pat Boone ripping off Little Richard, etc. Record execs denying royalties to composers and performers was another appalling scandal which took lawsuits galore by Willie Dixon and many others to finally bring under control, but they still try it even now…

  19. Good points Robbo…one small correction…I assume you mean Dave Somerville, the Diamonds lead singer. David Seville did the Chipmunks.

  20. great great great–would love to see goldmine go back to its roots-doo-wop,rockabilly,50’s rock n roll. i have 1500 45’s and around 1000 lp’s. most all 50’s n early 60’s. way back in the days when music was fun, not todays rap-crap.

  21. remember simon and garfunkle when they were tom n jerry in the 50’s and tico n triumphs in the early 60’s. motorcycle-hey schoold girl etc etc.. i have them vinyl

  22. I never thought of Jack Scott as a single singer. At the very end especially of My True Love we hear some great voices singing with him that really add to the song. I always thought of his songs as a group effort.
    I would like to see a list of greatest Doo Wop songs. This is my first look at Goldmine in years so that has surely been done. I was amazed at how great To the Aisle by the Five Satins is even though In the still of the night is of course the biggie. I am glad to see you mention that terrific song. To the Aisle has a different lead singer I read once but it is right up there with Johnnie and Joe’s Over the Mountain in quality and sentimental power. Since I don’t have you is a killer top 5 of all and Janet Vogel hits the spot at the end. I have no quarrel with your selections except that the Orioles were a little before my time and never made it to Texas possibly although I recognize all their songs. 20 is a little short when there are so many great ones. You don’t need to reply as I just like talking about these awesome songs and performances by people who had a great talent and to me God points a finger in a special blessing when a performance comes together like the top 10 doo wops and He says I bless this song with near perfection. The engineering, the lyrics, the performance all comes together like a miracle to me.
    When the Dells in Oh what a night have that piano come in at the beginning with the plink plink plink it is a perfect genius addition, a hook that is an example of the miracle. I have to add one thought though I am rambling I know. The greatest “Doo Wop Song” is A Summer Place by Percy Faith. Wink Wink nudge nudge. Doo Wop Era song I should say. Who knew? That and Jackie Wilsons St Therese of the Roses are amazingly a part of the “Rock and Roll” era and actually played on the same jukebox as Little Richard and Huey Piano Smith and the Clowns.
    Lets make it top 50 so we can include the Dells, the Cleftones and much more. As my 93 year old mother says when SHE talks on the phone for an hour “thinks for listening to me”.

  23. Great comment Mike. Glad to listen…any time. And whether you consider Jack Scott a solo singer or part of a group with the Chantones, he belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame !!

  24. I agree with many on the list. However, the Shirelles and Diamonds were more pop than doo wop. The Miracles were mainly Mowtown. The Heartbeats and Shep and the Limelites should be counted as one entry as James Sheppard was the lead for both groups. I would add to the list the Five Satins, the Moonglows and the Marcels. Most of the songs of these three groups were great. The biggest omission is not to mention Golden Teardops in the Flamingos section as it is considered one of the top doo wop songs of all times.

  25. what a great list & after reading all the comments it,s like being at a really good loud party where everyone is shouting & saying “oh, yeah, listen to this one.” i say the more the merrier, inclusion is much better than exclusion (i would quietly mutter that the aforementioned rap-crap has its charms). perhaps these vocal harmony groups groups are not strictly doo-wop, but i have always loved the Sheppards & the 5 Royales. i put their names forward not to suggest that they should have been on the original list, but simply in the spirit of adding to the cacophony.

  26. Oh Chris, beat me with a stale cheesesteak…I forgot one of my all-time favorites – The Sheppards’ “Island Of Love.” I wanna gogogo back & do this list all over, but it’s more fun when readers remind me of such gems.

  27. Err BIG one missing! What about Earl Lewis and the Channels? “The Closer You Are” and “That’s My Desire” among many others surely rates a mention?

  28. Great article, Phil! You really captured the feeling of what it was like to have “been there” when this music happened (for those of us who were born too late)….

    Tough to make a list, there will always be some great songs left out. But an admirable job. 🙂

    Thanks much Brian

  29. Great article. I’m Phil Levitt of the Diamonds, and blown away and honoured that we were included. Also it’s been a real trip down memory lane just reading the names of all the groups, singers and songs that I loved and were part of my life some 55 years ago, quite a lump in the throat. I haven’t heard a lot of the songs in quite a while, so now I have to go on line to catch up. Thanks so much.

  30. Phill, you faced an impossible task and nonetheless did an awesome job. All of us who grew up in the golden age of music have our favorites, still do. But to attempt to pigeon-hole them..Smokey was this…Arlene was that. It is just incredible fun, and tribute to the quality of the music, that we remain passionate about the genre.

    As for us teen-agers on the streets, church dances, city playground basketball court, we were digging the radio poet of our time in Baltimore, Paul “Fat Daddy” Johnson…the baddest jams –“We Belong Together” by Robert and Johnny..”Been So Long” by the Pastels, Big Dee Ervin’s powerful voice on lead..”Deserie” by the Charts, I still am stirred by the background cat who sprinkles “Ahh Yaaa” throughout the song…and this song made us stop in the middle of a fast break, start dancing on the court…Patti Labelle and the Blue Bells “I Sold My Heart to the Junk Man.” Phill, you are correct, Baltimore has great doo wop history..and sadly, still another one of the fantastic girl groups who never took off because of the Beatles –the Royalettes, from Bmore, with original of “It’s Going to Take a Miracle.” Just lovely. Their group name came from our city’s historic music palace, the Royal Theater. Peace all.
    Thanks so much Joe. An impossible task? I just put on “Try the Impossible” by Lee Andrews & the Hearts for inspiration.

  31. It’s Deserie by the Charts, not Desiree by the Charts. Agree about Earl Lewis and the Channels. Also, The Paragons. The Spaniels were supreme – how they were ripped off it a tragedy of the music business.You are correct. But if you want to nitpick, which, evidently, you do, in 1966 the group re-recorded the song with the “Desiree” spelling, also used by Laura Nyro on her version.

  32. The reason the spelling if fresh in my mind is I just read The Geator,’s book. Deserie is the name of his youngest daughter in honor of that record which he loves and back in the day, at least, played all the time.
    The Geator has a book? How is it?

  33. It’s called “You Only Rock Once” by Jerry Blavat as told to Steve Oskie and it’s a must for Philly Doowop fans. It his fascinating and bombastic, just like him. It’s not so much a history of DooWop or insight into the groups as it is a personally selected account of his own life and career. It’s peopled by many pop stars like Sinatra and Sammy Davis as well as famous and infamous figures such as Angelo Bruno, Nicky Scarfo, Walter Annenberg and Frank Rizzo. I found it in the book shop at 30th Street train station in Philly – published by Runnung Press, forward by Dick Clark.
    When I was 10 (now 66) I used to watch him on Bandstand and have been a fan of his ever since, along with Hy LIt, Georgie Woods, Lord Fauntliroy Bandy Jocko Henderson, Kay Williams. I have lived in the D.C. area since 1969 where my husband is from, but I still have family in Philly. In fact, what brought my husband and I together was a love for Pookie Hudson and the Spaniels. He was incredulous that a “white girl” had ever heard of them. Clearly, he never heard old-time AM radio in Philly.
    Thank you so much for your wonderful article which I found totally by accident – how fortunate. I’ve had a computer for less than a year – I figured it was now or never, so excuse all the errors.
    Definitely get a hold of the book – “The Geator” is alive and well.
    Thanx Paula. And keep an eye out for Goldmine’s upcoming doowop print issue

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  35. The five greatest doo-wop groups,not necessarily in order but without a doubt,if you polled alal of the doo-wop lovers and experts, these 5 would have to be there:1)Flamingos 2)Five Keys 3)Moonglows 4)Nutmegs(greatest Acapella group!) 5)Heartbeats.Jay&Americans were not a doo-wop group, more Teen sound/Pop,The miracles started as doo-wop but quickly morphed into Motown soul/R&B.Even Little Anthony&Imperials , they started as doo-wop/Teen sound but were more of a POP/R&B.

  36. My top 30 all time doo-wop groups, ranked for quality(not necessarily ranked as just my favorite groups, but technically the best) would read as follows:1)Flamingos, 2)Five keys, 3)Moonglows, 4)Nutmegs,5)Heartbeats 6)Platters 7)Skyliners 8)Harptones 9)Lee Andrews&Hearts 10)Drifters 11) Penguins12) Five Satins13)Johnny Maestro&Crests 14)Cleftones 15)Earl Lewis &Channels16)Dion &Belmonts17)Spaniels18)Shirelles 19)Duprees 20)Del-Vikings 21)Chiffons 22)Chantels 23)Passions 24)Jive Five 25)Mystics 26)Larry Chance &Earls 27)Marcels 28)Cadillacs 29)VitoPicone&Elegants 30)Coasters

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