Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter. Issue #10.  Bringing the world of Doo Wop, R&B, Soul and Gospel Harmony to your Inbox.. 

Classic Urban Harmony
Newsletter #10

Welcome to Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter #10.  Summer is here in New Jersey and the group harmony scene is heating up.  We were in Asbury Park NJ for the dedication of the Gervis Tillman (Vibro label) Asbury Angels plaque and it was good to see the boardwalk officially open again for the first time since Hurricane Sandy!  We'll be in Asbury Park again September 28 for the big gospel group harmony benefit.  Plenty of other group harmony events this summer.  Check the Events Calendar of for details.  Lots of exciting things this issue, including word of a Globe Poster exhibit, some concert reviews and a couple of exciting new book reviews.  It also seems that we can't get through a couple weeks without reporting the passing of more singers.  We've just lost Marvin Junior of the Dells, James Steward of the Ravens and Clarence Burke Jr. of the Five Stairsteps and some others who were key to our music.  While it's sad to tell you of these losses, we feel it's important to honor their contributions to our lives.   Again, thanks so much for your support.

Classic Urban Harmony LLC promotes the legacy of Rhythm & Blues, Doo Wop, Soul and Gospel Vocal Group Harmony through multimedia presentations, historical research, interviews, magazine articles, museum displays, radio guest appearances, our website,, and this free newsletter.  Here you'll find news of important events relevant to our music as well as updates to our website and summaries of our Classic Urban Harmony activities and projects.  To read more about and see more photos from the articles in this newsletter, check the What's New Page of  We hope you'll enjoy this issue of the newsletter and again find it entertaining and informative.  Please continue passing the word on to others who might want to receive it.  They can sign up by sending their names and email addresses to - Charlie & Pam Horner - June 13, 2013

Elvis joins Maurice Williams & Zodiacs to sing "Little Darling" at the Nader Doo Wop Celebration XXIV 

Yes, we thought Elvis was dead too, and we were as surprised as anyone to see him join Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs on stage at the IZOD Center in Secaucus NJ on June 1, during the Richard Nader Doo Wop Celebration XXIV.  Maurice Williams wrote and recorded "Little Darling" while with the Gladiolas in 1957.  Elvis Presley also recorded "Little Darling" and as Maurice lamented on stage, he never got to meet Elvis.  Just then, to the delight of the audience, Elvis bounded onto the stage and sang the song with Maurice Williams as a duet!  All in all, it was a great concert that also starred John Kuse' Excellents, Jay Siegel's Tokens, Lenny Coco's Chimes, Tommy Mara's Crests, the Duprees, Gene Chandler and Jay Black.  For a full review and many more photos, follow the Link on the What's New Page of

Marshall Sewell, Bass Singer for the Edsels dies. 

Marshall Sewell, original bass singer for the Edsels of "Rama Lama Ding Dong" fame, died on June 5, 2013, at the age of 75.   He'd been battling esophageal cancer for the past year.  Marshall Sewell was born in Montgomery, AL, but moved to Campbell OH (near Youngstown) when he was 5.  The Edsels, named after the automobile,  began singing in 1957 in Campbell, OH.  In 1958 they recorded "Rama Lama Ding Dong" for the Dub label out of Little Rock, AK.  The original label mistakenly read "Lama Rama Ding Dong".  The record did not sell very well and the group moved on to record for the Roulette and Tammy labels.  With the resurgence of doo wop music in 1961, the record was reissued on the Twin label with the correct title and it went on to become one of the most recognized songs of the doo wop era.  The original pressing as "Lama Rama Ding Dong" is seen above.  For more on the Edsels, see the What's New Page of

Rare Photo from Paul Ressler's Archives - The Edsels with Dick Clark

This time around, our Rare Photo from our friend Paul Ressler's Archives is of the Edsels appearing with Dick Clark on American Bandstand.  It is appropriate that we chose this photo in light of the group's bass singer Marshall Sewell's recent passing (see the above article).  The Edsels made a couple of appearances on American Bandstand, once on December 7, 1960 when they sang "Do You Love Me" and once on July 19, 1961 when they sang "Rama Lama Ding Dong".  This photo is apparently from the 1961 appearance.  We'll be displaying more of Paul Ressler's photos in future newsletters.  Thanks, Paul.


Gervis Tillman, Owner of Vibro label, honored with an Asbury Angels Plaque.

On Saturday May 18, 2013, Gervis "Gus" Tillman received an Asbury Angels plaque on the Asbury Park (NJ) Boardwalk of Fame.  Presented by the Asbury Angels Foundation to honor those major figures in the Asbury Park music scene, Gus Tillman was very deserving of the recognition.  As a song writer and record label owner, he recorded such Asbury Park singers as the Ray Dots, the V-Eights, Bobby Thomas, Tony Maples, Delmar Goggins and Mike Robinson.  Tillman's Vibro label was the first Asbury Park record label of the Rock & Roll era.  Twenty-three members of Gus Tillman's family were on hand for the ceremony, as were singer songwriter Ray Dahrouge and his wife Michelle.  Dahrouge, lead of the vocal group Ray & the Darchaes, credits Tillman as his mentor.  After the dedication ceremony, we all went to a reception at the Asbury Park Musical Heritage Gallery, 708 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park.  There, we saw a photo exhibit of Asbury Angels inductees on display.  We (Charlie & Pam) are advisers to the Asbury Angels Foundation.  For more photos of the Asbury Angels plaque dedication visit the Link on the What's New page of  For information on the Asbury Angels Foundation, visit

Artifacts from our Vaults

Our Classic Urban Harmony Archives contain many music related treasures, some buried so deeply in our vaults that they've been long since forgotten.  We've begun bringing out these items, one per newsletter.  This issue's artifact is a record cleaning brush with an Ink Spots badge on the top.  The cleaning brush was made in the late 1930's or 1940's by the Philadelphia Badge Company, once located at 134 N. 8th Street, Philadelphia, PA.   The Philadelphia Badge Company began in 1880 making badges and pins for political campaigns.  They existed up into the 1960's.  Their record cleaning brushes contain a space on the bottom of the badge to advertise a record store.  Many examples of this badge are known with ads for different record store, though ours does not.  Decca Records had these made to promote a number of their recording artists besides the ink Spots.  We've seen brushes advertising Bing Crosby and guy Lombardo.  They are about 3+1/2 inches in diameter and have a fuzzy cloth surface on the back for wiping lint and dust from your 78 RPM discs.

Classic Urban Harmony's screening of the documentary "Jubilee Singers" at the Franklin Township Public Library an inspirational time!

Our free film screening of "The Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice & Glory" at the Franklin Township (NJ) Public Library on May 22 gave the audience an emotional yet inspiring look at the career of the Fisk Jubilee Singers.  The Q&A session after the film led to a fascinating discussion of the film.  Afterwards, the audience viewed our library display of spirituals and gospel harmony memorabilia, which will be taken down on June 17.  The film screening was part of the Franklin Township's Cultural Arts Council's year long celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Save the Dates: Future Classic Urban Harmony Multimedia Presentations Announced

While many of our multimedia presentations on doo wop music are given to private communities, we do a number of presentations each year at libraries and these are usually opened to and free to the public.  If you haven't yet been to our "Under The Street Lamp: Tales From the Doo Wop Era - Part 1" on Sunday October 27, 2013 at the Montville, NJ, Public Library.  We'll also be giving Part 2 at the Hillsborough NJ Public Library on Thursday, August 8, 2013.  Registration is not yet opened but we'll let you know when you can sign up.  Visit the Events Calendar of for the latest details. 

Book Review: "Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans" by Sandmel

On our recent trip to New Orleans, we went by the now closed up Mother-In-Law Lounge and were inspired to pick up the book “Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans” by Ben Sandmel.  Everyone knows Ernie K-Doe’s song “Mother-In-Law”.  Ernie himself often boasted that there are only two songs that will stand the test of time – “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Mother-In-Law”.  Ernie K-Doe’s life story is one of the most fascinating we’ve ever read.  As an entertainer, K-Doe was a talented singer, musician, radio personality and club owner.  As a person, K-Doe was as eccentric and egotistical as he was good hearted.  Ernie K-Doe’s life could only have happened in New Orleans, where the unusual is accepted and sometimes even expected.  After almost a decade of struggling, K-Doe hit big in 1961 with the #1 song, “Mother-In-Law”.  He would never reach that milestone again and eventually sunk into desperate times as an alcoholic, sleeping on the street.  Amazingly, K-Doe turned himself around with the help of his second wife Antoinette, declaring himself the “Emperor of the Universe”.  K-Doe held court from his throne inside the now legendary Mother-In-Law Lounge (actually a museum to himself).  Ernie K-Doe’s life was cut short in 2001.  But the K-Doe story didn’t die with him, as his wife had a mannequin made in his image and the mannequin continued to greet visitors to the Mother-In-Law Lounge and make the rounds to important New Orleans musical and social events.  In fact, K-Doe, the mannequin, even ran (unsuccessfully) for mayor of New Orleans, five years after K-Doe’s death.  The Ernie K-Doe story is informative and well researched, often hysterically funny and sometimes sad, but never dull.  Music history buffs will find all the facts about his career and records that they are seeking, presented in a readable way.  More casual music fans will enjoy the story line and more than 130 photos, many in color, full page.  There’s a complete discography at the end.  If you’re interested in R&B music, the New Orleans music scene, or just want an entertaining read, pick this one up.  Read our complete review and Link to where you can purchase a copy, if you wish, from the Bookshelf Page of

Marshall Lyttle of Bill Haley's Comets, Jodimars, dies at 79. 

In yet another loss to the music community, we're sorry to report the passing of Marshall Lyttle, stand-up bass player for Bill Haley's Saddlemen, original member of Bill Haley & the Comets and the Jodimars.  Lyttle died on May 25, 2013 of cancer at the age of 79.  Marshall Lyttle was born September 1, 1933, in Pennsylvania.  He joined Bill Haley's Saddlemen, forerunners of the Comets, in 1951.  Lyttle was co-writer of "Crazy Man Crazy" but was not credited on the record.  His biggest recording, of course, was "Rock Around the Clock".  In 1955, Lyttle and two other Comets split with Bill Haley in an argument over money to form the Jodimars.  The Comets were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.  (Photo above is Bill Haley & Comets.  Marshall Lyttle is second from the right.  Photo courtesy of Paul Ressler).

Classic Urban Harmony and the Asbury Park Historical Society September 28 Gospel Group Harmony Concert to feature acappella group Quiet Storm singing Gospel

Things are shaping up for the September 28, 2013, Gospel Group Harmony Concert at the VFW in Asbury Park NJ.  In addition to King David's Harp from Portsmouth VA and the Spiritual 5 from South Jersey, the great Philadelphia acappella group Quiet Storm will be doing an all gospel set.  Quiet Storm has been preparing for this for a while and this will be the first time they've done a gospel program.  The concert will benefit the Asbury Park Historical Society.  We may add more groups in the future.  Tickets will go on sale soon.  We'll have more details in future newsletters and on

Globe Poster Exhibit in Baltimore closes this Saturday

Ever wonder about those colorful posters you used to see on telegraph poles and store windows advertising the latest R&B, R&R and Gospel concerts.  Back before the Internet, those posters were an important advertising tool and are certainly an important part of our vocal harmony group history.  It turns out that many of the posters were made by the Globe Poster Company in Baltimore, MD.  From Globe's founding in 1929 until its closing in 2010, the company created unique posters that have left a lasting impact on design and pop culture.  The posters are a vibrant record of the birth of R&B, rock and roll and other musical genres rooted in African-American culture and history.  The use of day-glow ink in the 1950's gave the Globe posters their distinctive look.  We have a number of Globe posters in our own Classic Urban Harmony Archives.   An exhibit, Globe Poster: Not to be Missed! celebrates a slice of African-American music history by telling the story of Baltimore's Globe Poster Printing Corporation. This is a collaborative exhibition between the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), which purchased the Globe collection in 2011, and Creative Alliance.  It is located at Creative Alliance at The Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore, MD 21224.  The exhibit is only opened through Saturday, June 15, but if you're in Baltimore this week you might want to stop by.  For hours or more info call (410) 276-1651 of visit the Creative Alliance Website.  To listed to a fascinating WYPR radio show on the history of Globe Posters, visit
Globe Poster Now & Then.


Marvin Junior, lead baritone for the legendary R&B group, the Dells, dies

Marvin Junior, lead of the legendary R&B vocal group, the Dells, died on May 29, 2013, at his home in Harvey, IL, of kidney failure.  He was 77.  Born in Arkansas on January 31, 1936, and raised in Harvey, IL (outside of Chicago), Marvin was there in the beginning in 1952 at Thornton Township High School when the group began singing as the El Rays.  After one record on the Checker label ("Darling I Know"), the group reorganized in 1955, recording for Vee Jay Records in Chicago.  There, they recorded classic tunes like "Oh What A Night" (Johnny Funches doing lead), "Pain In My Heart," "Dreams Of Contentment," "Why Do You Have To Go" and many more.  The Dells were one of the few groups to successfully make the transition into soul harmony in 1968 when they again scored big with "Stay In My Corner," this time with Marvin Junior singing lead.  The Dells continued singing with chart records into the 1990's.  The movie, "The Five Heartbeats" was loosely based on the Dells' career.  The Dells were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.  The basic group continued singing until 2009.  We last saw the Dells perform about six or seven years ago and they were still fabulous.  To read more about Marvin Junior and see more dells photos, visit the link on the What's New Page of  In the above photo, Marvin Junior is on the far right.  Thanks to Colton Thomas for this item.

Whiptones win 2013 Acappella Contest at the Izod Center.  Open for the Richard Nader Doo Wop Celebration XXIV

Each summer prior to the Richard Nader Doo Wop Celebration at the Izod Center in Secaucus, NJ, Don K. Reed holds an outdoor acappella group competition.  The winning group gets to open the concert later that evening.  Past years' winners include Re-MemberThen (2012) and Quiet Storm (2011).  This year's winners were the Whiptones, a talented quartet of 14 to 16 year olds from Whippany NJ, whom we first met last year at Lead East.  The Whiptones got to open the Nader Concert in front of thousands of people, singing the Wrens' "Come Back My Love".  To watch the YouTube of the Whiptones singing at the Izod Center, visit and follow the Link to the Richard Nader Doo Wop Celebration XXIV.
Registration opens next week for the free July 10 doo wop acappella concert by Nostalgia 5, in Somerset, NJ
The fine Philadelphia doo wop acappella group, Nostalgia 5, will give a free concert on Wednesday evening July 10 at the Franklin Township Public Library, 485 DeMott Lane, Somerset, NJ beginning at 7 PM.  The event will be emceed by Charlie & Pam Horner of Classic Urban Harmony.. Admission is FREE, but you must register, as space is limited.  You can register beginning next Monday either on-line through Nostalgia 5 at the FTL, or by calling the Library Reference Desk at 732-873-8700.

James Steward, last of the pioneer R&B vocal group, the Ravens, dies

James “Jimmy” Steward, last surviving member of the legendary pioneer R&B group, the Ravens, died May 18, 2013, in Jacksonville, FL.  He was 86.  Steward was born on May 27, 1926.  He first joined the Ravens in late 1951, replacing Leonard Puzey who had entered the service.  At the time, Joe Van Loan was singing lead tenor for the group and Steward handled second tenor.  Jimmy Ricks sang bass and Louis Frazier sang baritone.  The group had just signed with Mercury Records and Steward sang on “Out In The Cold Again” (backing Dinah Washington), “There’s No Use Pretending,” “Begin the Beguine” and “I’ve Got You Under my Skin”.  In April 1953, Puzey returned from the service and Steward left the Ravens for a short time.  By early 1954, Jimmy Steward rejoined the Ravens and stayed until their break up in 1956.  He sang on the Ravens' Jubilee sides, including “Green Eyes” (where he shared the lead with Ricks) and “Bells Of San Raquel” which Steward led.  Photo courtesy of Paul Ressler, shows Steward on bottom left..

Clarence Burke Jr. of the soul vocal group, the Five Stairsteps dies.

On May 26, 2013, Clarence Burke Jr., lead vocalist for the great soul harmony group the Five Stairsteps died.  The Five Stairsteps were a young family group out of Chicago in the mid-1960's.  The five teenage sons and daughter of Clarence Burke Sr. won a talent contest at the Regal Theatre and were signed to Curtis Mayfield's Windy City label.  In 1966 they scored with Clarence Burke Jr. leading "You Waited Too Long" and followed that with the even bigger, "World of Fantasy".  Their biggest hit was "Ooh Child" in 1970 where each member of the group shared the lead.

Moses "King Moe" Uzzell of the Corsairs dies.  Group was known for their song, "Smoky Places". 

Moses "King Moe" L. Uzzell, one of three Uzzell brothers who teamed with cousin George Wooton to form the Corsairs in La Grange, NC, in 1958, died May 11, 2013, in Newark, NJ at the age of 80.  Initially, the group was called the Kool Toppers and they recorded one record, "Is That Exactly What You Want To Do" for the Beverly label out of Kinston NC.  The record did not sell very well and is now highly valued by record collectors.  The group relocated to Newark, NJ, in the early 1960's where they changed their name to the Corsairs.  They signed with Tuff Records and scored with the hit "Smoky Places" in 1962.  "King Moe" Uzzell led the flip side, "Thinkin'".

Encounters give fabulous performance in Somerset NJ

In 1963, a group of youngsters started singing doo wop in the Bushwick Section of Brooklyn.  They recorded one record, "Don't Stop" for Philadelphia's Swan label.  Released in 1964, "Don't Stop" was pushed aside when Swan Records decided to instead promote a group from England called the Beatles.  Not one to give up, the group’s leader, Peter Milazzo, still has his group, The Encounters, singing today.  To help celebrate the group's 50th anniversary, Classic Urban Harmony brought the Encounters to our own Somerset Run Community for an acappella concert.   The quintet thrilled the audience with two full sets of some of the most treasured doo wop songs of all time, including “Don’t Ask Me To Be Lonely” (Dubs), “Come Go With Me” (Del Vikings), “Zoom” (Cadillacs), “Who’s That Knocking” (El Dorados), “Tonight Tonight” (Mello Kings), “Two Kinds Of People In The World” (Little Anthony & Imperials), “Blue Moon” (Marcels), “Daddy’s Home” (Shep & Limelites) and many more.  For some of our collector friends in the audience, the Encounters mixed in a few deeper songs like "Right By Her Side" (Profiles on the Gait label), "Solitaire" (Embers) and "Now That You're Gone" (Jesters).  The group gave a fabulous performance and afterward joined us and a few friends for an after party at Classic Urban Harmony Headquarters.  At the after party, the Encounters sang "Hello" (Nutmegs), "If I Oh I" (Diablos) and "Never Never" (Jive Five).  Members of the acappella group Re-MemberThen were also in attendance and they sang "Give Me Your Heart" (Termites on the Bee label) and others.  There was plenty of singing, good food and good company.  We've documented the evening in photos.  To take a look, follow the Link on the What's New Page of

Book Review: "The Encyclopedia of Early American Vocal Groups" by Friedman & Gribin 

Just out is “The Encyclopedia of Early American Vocal Groups: 100 Years of Harmony 1850 –1950” by Douglas E. Friedman & Anthony J. Gribin.  We've reviewed the book on our website's Bookshelf page.  The field of vocal group harmony in American popular music encompasses so many different fields, including groups singing African American spirituals, white minstrel songs, early pop, barbershop, gospel, blues, jazz, big band and rhythm & blues harmony, etc., that those of us who research this field tend to specialize.  Until now, there has not been a comprehensive work that reviews the field of group harmony in general and puts all of the sub categories in perspective.  Friedman and Gribbin have done a masterful and comprehensive job of reviewing the enormous volume of existing literature of vocal harmony between 1850 and 1950 and summarizing it for us.  This was done in an easy to read, free flowing style.  While the above review of the development of group harmony would have alone been worth purchasing this encyclopedia, it is but one part of the book.  There's a Groupography that lists 168 pages of early vocals groups, about 1500 in all; a discography of the above mentioned groups with more than 15,000 recordings; and sections about groups on sheet music, groups on post cards and various lists.  The entire book is fully illustrated with black & white photos of vocal groups, sheet music, etc.  This is a well done reference book that belongs in the library of anyone wanting a comprehensive knowledge early (1850 – 1950) vocal group harmony.  Read our entire review and purchased the book if you desire, from a link on the Bookshelf Page of

"Sammy Strain Story - Part 3 (Sammy & the Imperials, 1961 - 1963)" now posted on our website.

Our recent article about Sammy Strain (Part 3) and the Imperials (without Little Anthony), originally published in Echoes of the Past magazine has been updated and is now viewable on our website.  The label scans are now in color.  This is the continuing story of the an incredible music career by an incredibly talented and likeable man.  If for some reason you missed getting that issue of Echoes, or even if you'd like to read this again, follow the Link on the What's New Page of   [Above photo of Sammy Strain (second from the right) & the Imperials is courtesy of Sammy Strain]. 

Latest issue (# 104) of Echoes of the Past magazine now out.  Features or article on Sammy Strain: Part 4 (Sammy with Little Anthony & the Imperials) plus much more.

The latest issue of Echoes of the Past magazine (#104) is now out.  As usual, it has lots of great articles about 1950's and early 60's vocal groups including our most recent article about Sammy Strain (Part 4) with Little Anthony & the Imperials (after Anthony returned).  Also great articles about the Unique Echoes, the Angels (Gee label), the El Reys (Ideal label), Robin Luke and more.  To subscribe to Echoes (the only print magazine out there that concentrates on fifties & sixties vocal groups) email Bob Belniak at

Jubilee in the Park:  The Gospel Shepherds sing at the Franklin Township Cultural Arts Council's Colonial Park Celebration

If you follow our website, you know that we (Pam & Charlie) volunteer time as members of the Franklin Township Cultural Arts Council's Performing Arts Committee.  Over the past two years, the FTCAC has had many exciting events.  On June 1, we held an outdoor celebration in Somerset (NJ)'s Colonial Park called "Jubilee in the Park".  It was part of the CAC's year long celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and was held in June to coincide with the African American traditional Juneteenth celebration, marking the anniversary of when the last slaves were freed.  The Jubilee in the Park festivities included a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, a talk on the history of slavery in New Jersey and plenty of musical entertainment by Joyce Richardson, the Cohesion Band, the Gospel Shepherds and others.  The photo above is of the Gospel Shepherds).

Cornelius Harp, lead singer of the Marcels dies.

In what continues to be a sad year, we must now report that Cornelius Harp, lead singer of the Marcels, died on June 5, 2013.  Best known for their hit, "Blue Moon," the Marcels began in a Pittsburgh PA high school in 1959.  The Marcels became known for their update doo wop treatment of old standards like "Blue Moon," "Heartaches," "You Are My Sunshine" and "My Melancholy Baby".  They also appeared in the 1962 motion picture "Twist Around The Clock".  In the above photo from our archives, Cornelius Harp is in the top, center.

Sal Cuomo, first tenor of the Regents dies.

It's just been reported that Sal Cuomo, original first tenor of the Regents, died on June 10, 2013.  The Regents began sing in the Bronx and recorded the original version of "Barbara Ann" in 1959.  The group had disbanded by the time the record was released by the Cousins label in 1961, but quickly got back together when the record became a hit.  They followed it with another hit, "Runaround".  "Barbara Ann" was covered by the Beach Boys in 1965 and became a hit all over again.

Past Issues of the CUH Newsletter Now viewable on line

Want to catch up on any past issues of this newsletter that you may have missed? Now you can. Just go to the top of this newsletter and click on "View it in your browser". Then you be able to click on "Past Issues" on the upper left of your screen.

More Details and Photos from the Above Articles on our Website

There's just so much we can fit into one newsletter issue, but many of the articles here are repeated on our website with additional details and photos. To read more visit the "What's New Page" of And while there, don't forget to visit our other pages, like Our Events Calendar Page, Our Bookshelf, or our section on Articles We've Written.
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