Skip to comments.The Top Ten Biggest Doo-Wop Hits Of All Time
Posted on 12/15/2012 12:21:10 PM PST by JoeProBono
This list represents the biggest and most popular doo-wop songs of all time, as determined by Billboard chart rankings. These are not necessarily the best doo-wop songs ever -- although they're classics all -- but they remain the most popular, the ones that have stuck with us through decades of changing trends and styles. 1. "At The Hop," Danny and the Juniors Singular 711 (11 November 1957) b/w "Sometimes" recorded October 1957, Philadelphia, PA
Originally conceived by the songwriter as "Do The Bop," no less an authority than Dick Clark convinced Danny and the Juniors to rename this song to take advantage of the record/sock hop craze (after all, Danny and the Juvenairs -- as they were known before their manager got to them -- were discovered at a hop). Modeled as a sort of doo-wop take on Jerry Lee Lewis' "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," this went on to define an era where you could calypso and chicken. 2. "Duke Of Earl," Gene Chandler Vee-Jay 416 (13 January 1962) b/w "Kissin' In The Kitchen" recorded November 1961, New York, NY
Already dated when it was cut, perhaps, but time smooths out those edges in our memory, anyway, and Chandler's whole rep is based on this late-period doo-wop classic. The Dukays, Gene's group, turned their vocal "doo doo doo"s into "Duke"s, and Dukay Earl Edwards provided the finishing touch to the name. The result is a pledge of fidelity only matched in its era by Ben E. King's "Stand By Me." 3. "Blue Moon," The Marcels Colpix 186 (February 1961) b/w "Goodbye To Love" recorded 15 February 1961, New York, NY
Laid down in the last ten minutes of a recording session and done in one unbelievable take, this came about because the Marcel's producer wanted the group to combine the intro of one song, the Collegians' "Zoom Zoom Zoom," with the Rodgers-Hart standard "Heart And Soul." One problem: the band didn't know that song. But they did know another standard by the same team. The rest, as they say, is history. Murray the K made this one a smash, playing the acetate over and over before it was even turned into a record! 4. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," The Tokens RCA Victor 47-7954 (September 1961) b/w "Tina" recorded 21 July 1961, New York, NY
One of the stranger anomalies in rock history, "Lion" began life as a spontaneous recorded outburst by a Zulu tribesman, morphed into a misinterpreted folk smash, found its way to a Noo Yawk doo-wop group, and eventually wound up in the hands of the Sam Cooke producing duo known as Hugo and Luigi, who added tympani, silly woodwinds, and an opera singer. You have to hear it to believe it. But you already have. 5. "Little Star," The Elegants Apt 25005 (June 1958) b/w "Getting Dizzy" recorded October 1957, New York, NY
Staten Island made its most enduring contribution to New York Italian-American doo-wop with these five teens, who adapted the words if not the actual melody of Mozart's "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" (itself an adaptation) to create one of the era's most breathlessly beautiful odes. Recast as a romantic idyll, it shot up the charts, but the Elegants, like many of their brethren, never found success again. 6. "Stay," Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs Herald 552 (October 1960) b/w "Do You Believe" recorded July 1960, New York, NY
Written way back in '53 by the composer of "Little Darlin'," this was one of the finer entries in doo-wop's latter-day Golden Era; if it sounds flat, that's because the producer wanted the vocals sung just that way so that Joe Average could hum it on the street. And that's just what happened. Matters may have been helped by the abbreviated length (1:36), as this remains the shortest ever Number One record. 7. "Little Darlin'," The Diamonds Mercury 71060 (February 1957) b/w "Faithful And True" recorded February 1957, Chicago, IL
When is a parody not a parody? This white quartet (Canadians, no less!) takes a lot of heat to this day for covering the (black) Gladiolas' original and then inserting a silly spoken-word bridge. But if it's just a joke, then why is it such an improvement, right down to those immortal opening castanets? Writer Maurice Williams went on to front the Zodiacs ("Stay") and the Diamonds went on to "The Stroll. 8. "16 Candles," The Crests Coed 506 (30 November 1958) b/w "Beside You" recorded 12 August 1958, New York, NY
A real crowd favorite, this sweet little number -- originally titled "21 Candles" but quickly changed once the teenage market started booming -- retained its popularity long enough to inspire a Eighties teen sex comedy. The Crests never had another big hit after this ode to the coming-of-age milestone, but leader Johnny Maestro went on to success with the Brooklyn Bridge ("Worst That Could Happen"), while writer Luther Dixon went on to pen hits for the Shirelles. 9. "There Goes My Baby," The Drifters Atlantic 2025 (May 1959) b/w "Oh My Love" recorded 6 March 1959, New York, NY
One of the strangest and yet most breathtaking productions in rock history, this number -- another important soul milestone, but more urbane and filled with Latin inflections and off-tune tympani -- caused Atlantic's Jerry Wexler to threaten to throw the master out the window. There's no denying the dizzying romantic swell of the orchestration, however, which would guide singer Ben E. King through his own solo career. 10. "Come Go With Me," The Del-Vikings Fee Bee 205 (December 1956), Dot 15538 (16 February 1957) b/w "How Can I Find True Love" recorded November 1956, Pittsburgh, PA
Another example of a hit that shouldn't have been; this integrated group of Air Force buddies recorded this classic, written by their bass vocalist, as the b-side. One of the rare doo-wop records from this era that incorporates the feel of a real rock and roll band, it led to two more hits -- rather, two more hits for members using the group name. (It's complicated.)
Curiously, it was not a product of the doo-wop era, but rather a tribute to it, and ended up being (IMHO) every bit as good as any number of songs that sprung from that time.
Then the question when judging music became: Does the group look good?
Okay. Danny & the Juniors are out. But perhaps they can be replaced with Leif Garrett.
Today, the question when judging music is: Can she dance well?
Which is why Britany Spears makes $50M a year.
Interesting (and a thankful diversion) Joe. Do you have a link to the original article?
When payola and mob influence ruled. Chart ranking means little.
I’m so glad those days are behind us!!
The earliest recorded version of the song that would become The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Where are The Coasters? You can not have a top 10 doo-wop hit list without at least 1 Coasters song.
Vito & The Salutations - Unchained Melody (Fast Version) - YouTube
I do take issue with a couple of the selections.
Now compare it to today's crap, thirty years from now who's gonna want to hear it?
However, the music industry's influence on our nation's laws is bigger than ever before. And their criminal enterprises (like price fixing the industry) largely go unprosecuted. Not at much violent enterprise or coercion as there once way.
Don't even get started with the monolithic ticket handling fee racket.
Re At the Hop, I always thought “Sometimes (when I am all alone)” was the flip side of At The Hop.
ooo, I hate to disagree with you but.......it wasn’t “Does it sound good”, it was “Yea, but can you dance to it?”
I like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI_LVtatBsU
This tune inspired a number of answer records:
I suspect the Conquerors were also known as the Minor Chords. Both groups recorded for Detroit-based Lupine Records, and both had only one release.
- Let Her Go, Man--The Minor Chords
The Five Satins - In the Still of the Night.
Reading that list had me thinking of one of my fav DJs of the era: Jocko Henderson. Along with Alan Freed, The Wolfman, and Murry the K.
I Found a Job--The Heartbeats (1958)
Flip it over!
The Jones Girl--The Five Satins (1956)
Thanks. I do remember that song.
I Wonder Why by Dion and the Belmonts
Second place goes to Denise by Randy and the Rainbows.
Well it’s one two rock
This is the Jock
I’m back on the scene
With my record machine
Correct time now,
ewwww boppa decka
here come Chubby Checkah.
Loved Jocko’s Rocket Ship.
Murray the K !!!
MURRY THE K—
He broadcast for awhile on “W 80 dee 0 radio” in NYC. I was twice on the show around 64.
He also had a TV show for a short time also called the Rocket Ship Show. Classy guy and knew the business very well. He was “The Ace from Outer Space”....oh papa do, I am coming to you....
Boss-tones: Mope-itty Mope
Nolan Strong: Mind Over Matter
The Penguins: Memories of El Monte (written by Frank Zappa)
They all pale to the Flamingos version of “I Only Have Eyes For You”. Do wop she bop....
I Wonder Why by Dion and the Belmonts
That one cooks, and so does the flip side:
I was hoping someone would post that one.
I had forgotten about “WADO on your radio”
Wasn’t there a show on after his called “Night Train” that used to play ALL doo-wops?
Happy to see The Diamonds’ “Little Darlin’” on the list.
It is my favorite R&R song of all time.
Here it is, performed twice; once in 1957, then in 2004:
I used to listen to Wolfman Jack on XERB 50,000 Watts of Soul Baby. Wolfman always played:
Karl Denver: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09SXTH699xE
And let’s not forget the working class hero’s Pete Seeger’s role in the theft of the royalties for this song: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lion_Sleeps_Tonight
I consider “I Wonder Why” to be the best doo wop song ever written. I was surprised to earn that it got nowhere near the number one spot in it’s day. (I think it hit #17 or #12)
Answered my own question here
Everybody knows good Doo Wop. How about bad? Links will be appreciated.
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