Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter. Issue #39  Bringing the world of Doo Wop, R&B, Soul and Gospel Harmony to your Inbox.. 

Classic Urban Harmony
Newsletter #39

Welcome to Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter #39.  Our FREE email newsletter doesn't follow any regular schedule but we do try to publish every 4 to 6 weeks or so.  As always, there's a lot here, not in any particular order.  So please keep reading until the end.

Quote of the month: "“Music is the moonlight in the gloomy night of life.” ― Jean Paul Friedrich Richter

Classic Urban H
armony LLC promotes the legacy of Rhythm & Blues, Doo Wop, Soul and Gospel Vocal Group Harmony through multimedia presentations, historical research, interviews, magazine articles, museum exhibits & displays, radio guest appearances, lectures, college courses, concert production and emceeing, consultation for documentaries, vocal group bookings, 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 & Pamela Horner - July 26, 2019.

Classic Urban Harmony to celebrate 4th Anniversary at Roxy & Dukes with appearance by the Vic Donna Group! 

We've made it through our 4th year of acappella at Roxy & Dukes in Dunellen NJ and it's time to celebrate!  Can you believe it?  This will be our 40th acappella doo wop show there.  We have the Vic Donna Group returning Sunday August 4, 2019.  If you were there for last year's 3rd anniversary you know Vic's group rocked the place in front of a packed audience.  To watch a video from that 2018 Vic Donna performance at Roxy & Dukes click "Ride Along".  And the Vic Donna Group will again be singing two sets ALL ACAPPELLA, the way our harmony should be heard!  Come out and help us celebrate.  Doors will open at 7 PM, show at 8.  Admission is $20 with 80 percent of the door going to the group.  As usual, free parking, food and drink available for purchase and some great door prizes.  Roxy & Dukes is at 745 Bound Brook Rd, Dunellen NJ.  We are now taking reservations until there is no more room.  Email us at to hold a spot.

Classic Urban Harmony to Reunite 5 Legendary Clifton Records Vocal Groups in Huge Acappella Reunion!

Classic Urban Harmony is bringing together, for one evening only, five groups who were a vital part of Ronnie I’s United in Group Harmony Association back in the day. Like many of you, Pam and I have fond memories of UGHA, a time when acappella groups ruled the day. On Friday evening October 4, 2019, we will relive those days when we bring to the stage of the Morris Museum’s Bickford Theatre, the Cliftonaires, the Sheps, Choice, Patty & the Street-Tones/Mixed Company and the Grand Central Echoes. All five groups were known for bringing great vocal harmony to the stage of UGHA and all five recorded for Ronnie I’s Clifton record label. On October 4, all will be singing acappella.  As a special bonus, John Kuse, lead of the Excellents and original member of Grand Central Echoes will be rejoining GCE one last time to sing "Coney Island Baby" acappella.  As this event is a few months out, the line-up and group personnel is always subject to change but this is where we stand right now. More details will be announced soon for this once-in-a-lifetime reunion concert, but seating will be limited. Tickets will be on sale at Classic Urban Harmony’s Roxy & Dukes 4th Anniversary on August 4 and thereafter by mail. You may email us at beginning Aug 5 for ticket requests.  The first five rows center will be assigned seating at $50. All other tickets will be general admission at $40.  Visit our website Event Page for more details.  Accept no substitutes. This is the real thing and it will be historic.

Todd Baptista's book on the Flamingos due out soon!

We've very excited to hear that our friend and fellow music historian, Todd Baptista's book on R&B pioneers, the Flamingoes, is due out this coming winter.  We'll be reviewing it here once it comes out, but knowing Todd's attention to details and dedication to the music, we know it's going to be good.  The book can be pre-ordered now from McFarland Books.  It lists for $ 39.95.  

Musical Review: "Ain't To Proud To Beg: The Life And Times of the Temptations 

I remember seeing the Temptations and Four Tops in a reunion show in Hartford, CT. about 1983.  The Temptations launched a multi-city tour.  I was so impressed with this concert that I still remember it as one of the best shows ever.  The families of all five of the original Temptations were part of the great migration of African Americans from the South to the Motor City for greater opportunity and became part of the Motown hit factory.  The Temptations individually had lives marked by tragedy but brought happiness to the world through their music.  The Temptations have now sung for six decades.  They had 42 top ten hits with 14 reaching #1.  Now comes the Broadway musical “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg: The Life And Times of the Temptations”.  The New York Times has said this musical was “pretty close to perfection,” while the Washington Post called it “Dazzling and Electrifying”.  Entertainment Weekly said “Electric, Engaging, and Intriguing captivating performance, powerful song and dance numbers, reinventing what made the Temptations so good in the first place.“  It won a Tony Award for best choreography.  The Broadway show is ultra- amazing and quick moving as are the dance steps.  The story is told by founder and last surviving member Otis Williams of the original Temptations.  Otis was interviewed extensively for Mark Ribowsky’s book called “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”.  This is a jukebox musical with 31 Motown songs.  The energy of the songs is celebrated and the choreography shines.  I loved this musical and recommend it to anyone who loves the music of the Temptations.  The sheer overwhelming talent of the cast will secure this musical and the music being celebrated here. To watch a preview of clips from the musical, click Temptations Musical.  The musical is running at the Imperial Theatre, 249 W. 45th St, NYC.  You'll need to purchase tickets way in advance.  Oh, and did I mention, the group sings "In The Still Of The Night" and "Gloria" in this musical? - Pamela Horner

Book Review: "Chicken Soup For The Soul: The Story Behind The Songs," Mark Victor Hansen & Jo-Ann Geffen, (2009).

Here's a book we just picked up and enjoyed.  The book takes 100 songs and interviews their songwriters about what went into the making of each song.  The book is fun to read.  The stories are concise and well written.  While most of the songs are more contemporary (there's no doo wop here), there are plenty of interesting songwriters interviewed including Aaron Neville, Carly Simon, Daryl Hall, Hal David, Jeff Barry, Lamont Dozier, Neil Sedaka, Smokey Robinson, etc.  You can read one story and then skip over to the next one you like.  Available on for $14.95.   

Jerry Lawson, voice of the Persuasions dies at 75.

Jerry Lawson, who’s baritone voice led the Persuasions for four decades of the acappella, died July 10 at a hospice center in Phoenix. He was 75.  The Persuasions recorded 25 albums of R&B, Doo Wop, Gospel and Pop songs, all with no sound other than their own voices.  The Persuasions began in Brooklyn in 1962.  Original members included  Jerry Lawson, Joseph Russell, Herbert Rhoad and Jayotis Washington,   The group’s first recordings were done for Stan Krause of Catamount Records.  After that, musician Frank Zappa gave their career a boost when he signed them to his independent label.  Decades later the Persuasions were still going strong.  Jerome Lawson was born in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Jan. 23, 1944, and grew up in Apopka.  Jerry left the group in 2002. A few years later, he joined a much younger group of San Francisco acappella singers called Talk Of The Town.  Leading that group, Jerry Lawson appeared on NBC’s music competition show, “The Sing-Off.” In 2015, he released his only solo album, “Just a Mortal Man.”  I (Charlie) first met Jerry when the Persuasions appeared at University of Pennsylvania in the late 1970’s.  Our condolences to Jerry’s wife Julie.  A great voice for our music has been silenced.

Billy Terrell visits Classic Urban Harmony Headquarters

Noted songwriter, record producer, singer, author, comedian, Billy Terrell dropped by Classic Urban Harmony Headquarters for a visit. Loved hearing his many stories of writing and/or producing many great soul records with Ray Dahrouge. Records by artists like Darryl Stewart, the Moments, the Manhattans, Debbie Taylor, the Persians, Timothy Wilson, Vivian Copeland, Benny Troy and many more. A great afternoon!  If you haven't read Billy's book, "The Other Side of Rock and War," it's available on  

Obscure Clovers record now featured on Panera commercial!

In past newsletters we pointed out the trend of major TV sponsors reaching back into the vaults to use our music as background.  We've recently heard Heinz Ketchup use "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" and the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid use Ricky Nelson's "Traveling Man".  But what really shocked us was when we heard the recent Panera Bread commercial using the beginning of "Wrapped Up In A Dream".  Now this is an old song, recorded by everyone from the Four Tunes (Pat Best wrote it) to the Do Re Me (trio), Four Knights, Hill Toppers, Five Keys, Sammy Turner, Ted Taylor and Azie Mortimer.  But we quickly recognized that the version in the commercial was none other than the 1961 version by the Clovers.  Running to the Classic Urban Harmony Archives, we found not only the record on the Winley label but a metal acetate test pressing of the record (shown here).  Click "Panera Bread" to watch the commercial, then click "Clovers" to hear the entire song.  And watch out for more of our songs making it to TV.   

Ph.D. Candidate at Columbia University conducts research at Classic Urban Harmony Archives

A few weeks ago we were contacted by Matthew Joseph, a Ph.D. student at Columbia University.  Matthew is working on his dissertation on cross-cultural interaction in post-WW-II New York music.  His latest dissertation chapter examines mixed-race, uptown New York City doo wop groups as an alternative to segregated gang culture.  As most public libraries have only sparse information on doo wop music, we invited Matthew to gain whatever information he could from our archives.  While we normally restrict access to our Classic Urban Harmony Archives due to our own hectic schedule, we do like to help serious researchers when we can.  

Packed house at South Plainfield Library's Classic Urban Harmony Multi-Media Presentation

It was a packed house at the South Plainfield Public Library, July 13, as we gave our first mutli-media presentation on doo wop music in quite a while.  I guess people missed us, as they quickly filled all available seats and then scrambled for more chairs until the room was completely filled.  Our most popular presentation, “Under the Streetlamp: Tales of the Doo Wop Era – Part 1” was updated and so well received we were invited to give "Part 2" next year!  Thanks to all who came out to support us.  We had a great time.

More lost luminaries.

Write obituaries is as depressing for us as reading them is for you.  Sadly we've lost even more singers than the ones written about so far.  To keep this newsletter to a reasonable length, we'll just list the others who have passed since our last issue.  This is not meant as a slight to any of the following as they are all important to us and to our music.
  • Charlie Apple - died June 17 - Pittsburgh dj.
  • Mike Regan - died May 23 at age of 70 - Camelots
  • Dan Elliott - died June 23 at age of 69.- Montereys, Belmonts
  • Paul "Beans" Albano - Died June 24 at the age of 78 - 5 Discs, 5 Boroughs
  • Billy Surmolian - Died June 24 at age 76 - Larry Lee & Serenaders, Legacy (Hartford CT groups)
  • Ed Grillo - Died July 6 at age of 68 - Frankie & Fashions
  • Dick Richards - Died July 12 at age of 95 - Bill Haley & Comets
  • Ken "Lord Hiram" Holiday - Died July 15 - Cavalcades. Valentines (Lee label)

Visit our website.

If you haven't visited our website in awhile, you're in for a treat.  The Articles By Us page lists our many articles from Echoes of the Past, which you can click on and read.  We've just added the last two articles - "Joel Katz, Part 4" and the "1979 Concert that Brought Acappella Back to Philadelphia".  And don't forget to check out the Events Page for a listing of what's going on.  For more about Classic Urban Harmony's activities, along with news, articles, photos and videos, please visit our website,

East Coast Music Hall Of Fame moving forward after that spectacular June Gala.

The East Coast Music Hall Of Fame's June 5 Gala was a tremendous success from every perspective.  Right now we are listening carefully to what our members and honorees are saying.  We know a lot of things went incredibly well but that won't stop us from asking, "What can we do better?"  We'll be sending out a survey to all who attended the June 5 event to make sure our road map for the future includes guideposts provided by the people who make this Hall of Fame what it is - the fans!  To join the East Coast Music hall Of Fame and keep up on our events visit

Dave Bartholomew, architect of the "New Orleans Sound" dies at 100.

Dave Bartholomew, the producer, arranger, composer, trumpet player and bandleader who had a major hand in the shaping of New Orleans rhythm and blues and early rock ’n’ roll, died on Sunday June 23 at a hospital in Metairie, LA.  He was 100.  Bartholomew partnered with Fats Domino on early rock classics including co-writing “Ain’t That a Shame.” The New Orleans trumpeter, band leader, producer, songwriter, and arranger was involved in many iconic songs including “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “Blueberry Hill,” “I’m Walking,” and “I Hear You Knocking.” Bartholomew was bandleader for one of New Orleans premier Rhythm & Blues bands when he became an A&R man for Imperial Records.  At Imperial, he brought in Fats Domino, working with him on combining R&B with big band, jazz and country to create early rock and roll. Bartholomew was elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.  Some of Bartholomew’s songwriting credits include “I’m Gone” (Shirley & Lee), “Blue Monday (Smiley Lewis), “I-Yi” (Hawks), “Ain’t It A Shame” (Fats Domino), “Why Fool Myself” (Bernie Williams), “Toy Bell” (Bees), “Witchcraft” (Spiders), “Let The Four Winds Blow” (Roy Brown), “Walking To New Orleans” (Fats Domino), “I Hear You Knocking” (Smiley Lewis)  and hundreds more.

Art Neville dies at 81.  New Orleans music legend. 

Art Neville, pioneer of New Orleans music for a half-century has died at the age of 81 at his home in New Orleans.  The keyboardist and singer co-founded the Meters and the Neville Brothers, two of the most important New Orleans bands.  This has been a terrible summer for the  New Orleans music community, having just lost Dr. John and Dave Bartholomew.  Art Neville died Monday July 22, 2019, at the age of 81, after years of declining health.  Art Neville was 17 when he sang lead on the Hawkettes’ “Mardi Gras Mambo,” a song that has since been a Mardi Gras standard.  We’ve always been big fans of the Neville Brothers.  Back around 1981, when they had the "Fiyo On The Bayou" album out, I was playing their "Ten Commandments Of Love" cut (background by the Persuasions) on my Philly radio program. Joel Dorn, who produced the album used to listen to my show. The Neville Brothers were scheduled to play Philly and he was going to bring the group to my radio show and maybe have them harmonize a little acappella but their plane got delayed so it never happened. Much later Pam and I did see the Neville Brothers perform at Jazz Fest.  If you want to hear a great Doo Wop hharmony song by Art, click the YouTube of “My Dear Dearest Darling” on the Cinderella label from 1965.  It’s always been one of my favorites.

Street Named After Skyliners' Jimmy Beaumont.

The street now known as Tulip Drive that goes through Renzielehausen Park in McKeesport, PA, will be renamed for Jimmy Beaumont.  It will henceforth be called "Jimmy Beaumont Boulevard".  The Skyliners often performed in this park.  Jimmy Beaumont was from McKeesport, just outside of Pittsburgh.  When the Skyliners played the Apollo Theater and came on stage to sing, the audience was aghast that they were a white group.  In fact, the Skyliners were the first white group to top Cashbox R&B charts.  Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002 and Jimmy received the Pittsburgh Rock & Roll Legend Award in 2016.  But the Skyliners never made the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.  Jimmy Beaumont passed away in 2017.   On June 5, 2019, Jimmy was posthumously awarded a lifetime achievement award by the East Coast Music Hall of Fame. - Pamela Horner

The Walkman turns 40.

Introduced by Sony in 1979, the Walkman turns 40 this month.  It was only a playback machine for cassettes.  It weighed 14 oz.  However, millions of people found it useful and 30% more people walked because of it.  Before there were IPod's and IPhone's, there were Walkmans.  An early version is in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.  The Walkman freed us to listen to our music whenever and wherever we were.  I know the Walkman gave me many hours of enjoyment.  Upbeat songs made me walk faster.  People used the Walkman to help manage stress.  It was also used to listen to books.  You could also privatize your space cutting you off from the rest of the world. You could make your own tapes grouping songs however you liked.  It was the forerunner of always having a device in your hands. - Pamela Horner

Patti LaBelle gets her very own street in Philadelphia 

On July 2, 2019 a stretch of Broad street in Philly between Locust and Spruce Street was named Patti LaBelle Way.  The “Godmother of Soul” thanked fans who gathered at the intersection and she sang an impromptu rendition of her hit “Love, Need and Want You"  Starting out as a member of Patti LaBelle & the Blue Belles, Patti had a number of hits.  But it was not until she recorded “Lady Marmalade” that LaBelle had her first #1 hit.  The two-time Grammy Award-wining singer and songwriter grew up in Southwest Philly. She started her music career in the 1960’s and has continued to release music, star in TV shows, and write books. - Pamela Horner

A Record Collector's Worst Nightmare!

OK, if you collect 78's or LP's you might want to invest in a wider mailbox!

1963 incident leads to Sam Cooke's Civil Rights Era song  

The mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana recently offered an official apology for an incident 56 years ago that inspired an important song of the Civil Rights Era, “A Change Gonna Come”.  On October 8, 1963, singer Sam Cooke, his wife Barbara, chauffeur Charles Cooke and Soul Stirrers' founder Senior Roy Craine, traveled to Shreveport, Louisiana, for a performance as part of the “Supersonic Attractions” tour package.  Cooke had reserved rooms at the local Holiday Inn but upon their arrival were turned away because they was black. Cooke and companions then went outside and sat in their car blowing the horn.  They were promptly arrested for disturbing the peace.  They claimed honking was due to a malfunction on the car.  They were all taken to the police station, booked and released on $102.50 each.  The concert that night at Shreveport’s Municipal Stadium was delayed by a bomb threat.  It went on after the stadium was searched and the threat declared a hoax.  After the concert, Cooke’s chauffeur was again arrested on driving while intoxicated charges.  The incident led Sam Cooke to write the song “A Change Gonna Come”.  Cooke was killed in a Los Angeles hotel the next year. At the city's annual “Let the Good Times Roll Festival” on June 22, 2019,  Mayor Adrian Perkins issued a formal apology on behalf of Shreveport and presented Cooke's daughter with a key to the city.  "We need to come to terms with our past so we can move forward in a positive way, so this is the beginning. Specifically, with this, it's a beginning of a new relationship with the Cooke family," said Perkins.

Jerry Lee Lewis home again after recovering from a recent stroke.

Rock & Roll pioneer, Jerry Lee Lewis has left the rehabilitation center that has cared for him the past three months after suffering a stroke on March 1, 2019.  He is reported well on his way to recovery and back in his Tennessee home.  He is expected to soon resume work on a new gospel album he’d been recording.  Lewis is 83.

Are you receiving the Doo Wop Ramblings newsletter?

If you're enjoying reading this newsletter, there's another great free email newsletter we know you'll enjoy and this one comes out weekly!  Doo Wop Ramblings hits your inbox every Sunday.  You can subscribe by visiting Subscribe Now.

Yet, Another Great Newsletter you should be receiving!

In addition to the newsletter above, you need to check out the New England Doo Wop Society's free email newsletter.  Published by our friends Bob Belniak and Gary Jones the NEDWS is quite active in keeping our music alive in New England but their newsletter covers music news from all over.  Click Subscribe to get on their mailing list.

Rare Artifacts from our CUH Vaults

It's been awhile since we did this, so let's again start featuring artifacts found deep within the vaults of the Classic Urban Harmony Archives!  This issue we'll feature a fragile paper napkin stamped with the words "The Dixie Cups Iko Iko".   What could this possibly be?  Well, back in 2013, we were in New Orleans for Jazz Fest.  We were standing in the crowd around the main stage watching the Dixie Cup perform.  Prior to their signature song, "Iko Iko," the Dixie Cups handed out these paper napkins to the people up front, to wave when they sang the song.  Pam was fortunate enough to acquire one of the napkins but there was no way we were going to open it up and wave it.  We needed it in mint condition for our Archives.  Here's a YouTube video of the Dixie Cups singing at Jazz Fest 2013, but it's before they passed out the napkins to wave.  You can't really see us in the video.  We were by the stage, all the way to the left.

Earth Wind & Fire first R&B group honored at Kennedy Center

On July 17, 2019, Earth Wind & Fire became the first R&B group ever  to receive recognition at the Kennedy Center Honors.  The Kennedy Center Honors celebrates icons who, through their artistry, have left an indelible stamp on our collective cultural consciousness.  The Kennedy Center usually honors individuals, not groups.  The only other groups honored there in the past were the Eagles and Led Zeppelin and the Who.  Earth Wind & Fire are the first African American band to receive this honor.

Visit our "Chorner1" YouTube Channel 
If you've never been on it, Classic Urban Harmony's YouTube channel is worth checking out.  It's chorner1 and it contains 305 live video songs by doo wop and R&B vocal groups,  We are adding more all the time.  Just about all the videos were taken by us at various Classic Urban Harmony concerts that we produced and most are acappella.  At the writing of this newsletter, there have been more than 492,289 views of videos on our YouTube channel.  To take a look click chorner1 YouTubes.  You might want to subscribe and follow to be notified when we post new videos.  Over 675 people now subscribe already!

Past Issues of the CUH Newsletter Now viewable on our website!

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.  You can also see all of our past CUH email newsletters from the link on our website's Articles Page.  here's a Direct Link.

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