DANNY AND THE JUNIORS
Original members (all born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) :
Danny and the Juniors were the first successful white rock n roll vocal group. The quartet had its origins in John Bartram High School in Philadelphia, where it was formed in 1955 as the Juvenairs. Influenced by the likes of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, the Four Lads, the Ravens and Steve Gibson and his Red Caps, the group practiced in the back of a car and later also on street corners. After performing under the window of songwriter John Madara (aka John Medora), they were introduced to local music promoter and record label owner Artie Singer, who became their vocal coach and manager. He suggested they change their name to Danny and the Juniors, Danny being Danny Rapp, the lead singer. John Madara and group member Dave White wrote a song about a 1957 dance craze, "Do the Bop". The group recorded it as a demo and Artie Singer brought it to Dick Clark to see what he thought of it. He liked it, but knowing that the dance the bop was on the way out, Clark suggested a name change to "At the Hop". Singer helped to rewrite the song, for which he received a co-writing credit. Re-cut under the new title, the record came out in late October 1957 on Singer's Singular label, but it wasn't getting much attention. Then on December 2 the group was invited to perform on Dick Clark's American Bandstand as a last-minute replacement. The switch- board lit up with hundreds of callers. ABC-Paramount quickly acquired the masters and "At the Hop" raced to the top of the charts (both pop and R&B) in just four weeks, occupying the number one slot for an amazing seven weeks in early 1958. In the UK, the disc reached # 3 and worldwide sales approached 2,000,000 copies. In his masterful book "The Sound Of the City", Charlie Gillett calls "At the Hop" a good example of how the established recording industry had succeeded in diluting rock n roll excitement into harmless dance music. The slow B-side, "Sometimes (When I'm All Alone)", has later been covered by more than a dozen groups.
The follow-up, "Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay", was written by Dave White in response to attacks against rock music that included a display of smashing records, sponsored by KWK, a St. Louis radio station. It made it to # 19 and the third ABC single, the ultra-short "Dottie", to # 39. The next four singles on ABC-Paramount flopped and in 1960 the group switched to Swan Records. Here they scored five more chart entries with dance records until April 1962, but only "Twistin' USA" went Top 40 (# 27, 1960). Dave White left the group in 1960 to concentrate on his songwriting, in partnership with John Madara. They wrote several big hits, including "The Fly" for Chubby Checker, "You Don't Own Me" for Lesley Gore and "1-2-3" for Len Barry. In 1971, White would record a solo album for Bell Records titled "Pastel, Paint, Pencil and Ink" under his real name, David White Tricker. His replacement in 1960 was Bill Carlucci.
A one-off single for the Guyden label in Philadelphia resulted in their final chart entry, "Oo-La-La Limbo" (# 99, early 1963). After one Mercury release in 1964 ("Let's Go Ski-ing"/"Sad Girl") Danny and the Juniors broke up, but they re-formed in 1968 to re-record "Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay" for the Lub label. In the early 1970s they started performing on oldies shows, albeit without Danny Rapp. A reissue of "At the Hop" reached the UK Top 40 in 1976. The group's former sax player, Lenny Baker, carried on the group's tradition by co-founding the group Sha Na Na.
Danny Rapp became assistant manager in a toy factory and was sadly found dead in a motel room in Parker, Arizona, of apparent suicide on April 5, 1983, at the age of forty-one.
At present, the legacy of Danny and the Juniors is kept alive by the trio of Joe Terry (lead singer), Frank Maffei and Frank's brother Bobby Maffei. In 2011 they released the 12-track CD "We're For Ever & Ever & Ever Yours", on the Nova label, with mostly new original songs. It's available on Spotify and better than you might expect.
More info : http://www.pophistorydig.com/?p=6938
Discography : http://www.rocky-52.net/chanteursd/danny&j.htm
CD's : Two good career overviews are still available :
Acknowledgements : Jay Warner, Fred Bronson, Nick Talevski.
Dik, August 2013
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