NY Times Report of Doo-wop’s Death Greatly Exaggerated

by David Solomonoff

With the closing of a specialty record shop in New Jersey, the New York Times announced the death of doo-wop, a form of R&B most popular in the 1950’s and early 60’s which featured  harmony vocals and romantic lyrics. Doo-wop was most often performed by African and/or Italian American working class youth and combined gospel and operatic elements.

As recently as the late eighties and early nineties, I remember doo-wop groups singing a cappella on street corners in the West Village for tourists.

Though the Times tends to dismiss almost anything working class and romantic as destined for the dustbin of history, they neglected to note some innovative musicians who performed or were heavily influenced by doo-wop including Brian Eno, here performing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” made famous by the Tokens in 1961:

 

 

… and Frank Zappa, who began his career singing doo-wop and continued to incorporate it into his music throughout his career:

 

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