Definitions

pre-late

The Marcels

The Marcels were a doo-wop group known for turning beloved American classical pop songs into rock and roll. The group formed in 1959 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with lead Cornelius Harp, bass Fred Johnson, Gene Bricker, Ron Mundy, and Richard Knauss. The group was named by Fred Johnson's younger sister Priscilla, after a popular hair style of the day (the Marcell wave). In 1961 many were shocked to hear a new version of the ballad, "Blue Moon" that began with the bass singer saying, "bomp-baba-bomp" and "dip-da-dip." Still, the record sold a million copies and is featured in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

The disc climbed all the way to number one in the UK Singles Chart. However all follow-ups sank without trace, and the group became known there as a one-hit wonder. In their U.S. homeland, additional revivals in the same vein as "Blue Moon" - "Heartaches" and "Melancholy Baby" - were less successful, although the former peaked in the Top 10 of Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and eventually sold over one million copies worldwide.

In August 1961, due to problems encountered in the Deep South while touring because of the group being bi-racial, the white members, Knauss and Bricker left and were replaced by Allen Johnson (brother of Fred) and Walt Maddox. Mundy left soon after, leaving the group a quartet.

In 1962, Harp and Allen Johnson left, and were replaced by Richard Harris and William Herndon. There was a brief reunion of the original members in 1973. The group made several recordings in 1975 with Harp back on lead.

Original member Gene Bricker died in 1983. Allen Johnson died in 1995.

By the early 1990s the group included Johnson, Maddox, Harris, Jules Hopson, and Richard Merritt.

The group split around 1995. Fred Johnson formed his own group with new members, while the other four members recruited new bass Ted Smith. Maddox won a lawsuit against Sunny James Svetnic, the manager of Johnson's group, for trademark infringement in 1996. Svetnic died in 2002.

Johnson reunited with Harp, Mundy, and Knauss in 1999 for the PBS special Doo Wop 50 with a fifth member.

Album discography

Awards and recognition

The Marcels were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002.

External links

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