Line up includes Doo-Wop legends
Gene Chandler “The Duke of Earl”
Sonny Turner- former lead singer of The Platters (1959-1970)
Larry Chance & The Earls
Norman Fox & The Rob Roys
Charles Weldon (original lead singer of The Paradons)
Very special guest The Dukes Of Doo-Wop” So-Cal’s premier acapella group.
There will also be a meet and greet before and after the show. Call for details.
Acts and Performers
Gene Chandler “The Duke of Earl”
From 1962 to 1970
Gene Chandler put nineteen songs in the top forty, but he will always be known all over the world as the Duke of Earl, his first hit that topped the pop and R&B charts in 1962 and launched his career.
Gene Chandler became a member of the Du-Kays, a rhythm & blues group with a strong rock and roll sound. After a stint in the Army and singing solo in the Army he returned to Chicago.
Gene rejoined the Du-Kays. Bernice Williams, young music business manager heard the group perform and quickly agreed to manage the young group. She arranged an audition with Nat Records in Chicago and the Du-Kays were offered a recording
contract. Their first professional recording session was late in 1960, at which time they recorded “The Girl is Evil “.
They recorded ” Nite Owl ” and ” Duke of Earl “. “Nite Owl” was recorded first, but the creation of the Duke of Earl was a bit more unusual.
The Du-Kays would warm up by singing do-do-do-do- in various tones and pitches. Gene started singing duke–duke–duke and from there added fellow member “Earl” Edward’s first name to complete the phrase. He then began composing the lyrics on the spot. It worked so well and they were excited that this was a potential hit. They immediately sang the lyrics to Bernie who in turn added more lyrics. They recorded the Duke of Earl. But getting the “Duke of Earl” released, however, was the hardest part. Nat Records released “Nite Owl”, but was unable to get the distribution rights for “Duke of Earl”.
Calvin Carter, A&R man with VeeJay Records absolutely loved the tune and especially liked Gene’s singing style. Carter was more interested in Gene alone than in the whole group sound and felt Gene could top the charts easier as a solo artist. While “Nite Owl” by the Du-Kays was shooting up the charts, VeeJay was holding back the release of the “Duke of Earl “, because Gene couldn’t decide to go solo or stay with the group that had a hit 45 on the charts.
In January 1962
Eugene Dixon became Gene Chandler, taking his last name from actor Jeff Chandler because he thought it had a romantic ring. Under Gene Chandler, he released solo records while still under contract with the Du-Kays as Gene Dixon. The ” Duke of Earl ” was finally released and it sold a million copies in little over one month. It was a huge hit, Number 1 for three weeks in 1962. It dethroned the ” Twist ” from its Number 1 position.
Gene Chandler began to dress like the “Duke of Earl”. He wore a monocle, cape, top hat and cane. Gene usually ended his concerts with the Duke in full dress, leaving the audience totally wanting more and for the most part he would go back and sing “Rainbow”, a very successful R&B tune that was again his signature style. “Rainbow” is the only tune Gene recorded three times, once in 1963 again in “Rainbow Live 1965” with Constellation Records and then finally, “Rainbow 80” with ChiSound Records. “Rainbow” was one of the songs that Curtis Mayfield of the Impressions wrote for Gene. In addition to “Rainbow”, Curtis wrote “A Man’s Temptation”, which Gene recorded around the same time while under contract with VeeJay. Gene’s collaboration with Curtis Mayfield proved to be a match made in heaven. Mayfield’s songs made Gene a first-rate ballad singer. These soft, tender sexy love songs went over well in concert with Gene’s falsetto slides sent ripples of excitement through the ladies in his audience.
Gene then signed with Constellation Records and ended his tenure at Constellation when they closed in 1966 and Chess Records purchased Gene’s songs. Gene’s manager, Carl Davis signed him with Brunswick Records at the same time. The two record companies ended up altering Gene’s record releases, one new single then a re-release of an older recording.
Finally, tired of the road and no viable new hits, Gene turned his attention to the business end of the industry. After all his successes, Gene decided to put his energy into producing, arranging and hyping other acts. Gene formed two music-publishing companies, a production company and was President of Bamboo Records. Gene’s biggest hit at Bamboo was ” Backfield in Motion” by Mel and Tim in 1969. Gene selected this song, cut it and sold a million copies.
Gene signed with Mercury Records and recorded “Groovy Situation”. The strength of both of these tunes got him nominated for “Producer of The Year” Award. Gene won the NATRA award in Houston, Texas in August of 1970. He beat Norman Whitfield, producer of the Temptations and Gamble and Huff of the Philadelphia sound for the award, an astounding accomplishment considering the popularity of the Detroit and Philly revolution in that time period.
” Groovy Situation ” was a top hit that summer, selling another million. Gene’s disco hits were extremely popular in the UK in the 70s and 80s and Gene collaborated with Reggae star ” Johnny Nash ” in London. “Get Down”, another million-seller absolutely rocked the disco revolution. Gene was with Chi-Sound Records, as Executive vice-president under the direction of Carl Davis at the same time “Get Down” was recorded. Back in high demand, Gene ended up back on the road to perform on the concert circuit, with notable ” Wolfman Jack’s ” Oldies Tour and extensively performing solo in the Northeast, Las Vegas and in California, and of course in Chicago.
Today, Gene still lives in Chicago and attributes his success to his faith in God. His romantic performance style along with his superbly rich voice still makes him a hot number and fabulous performer to contend with. He still packs them in decades later—– Nothing can stop the Duke of Earl. Nothing.. and he’s doing just fine.
Sonny Turner- former lead singer of The Platters (1959-1970)
In late 1959, replaced Tony Williams as the lead singer of the original Platters. At the age of 19, Sonny Turner was chosen out of 100 singers who auditioned. Soon after, he toured the world with “The Platters” bringing their music to people of all nations. Sonny brought The Platters back to the pop charts in the 1960’s. Chart-toppers like “I Love You 1000 Times”, “With This Ring” and “Washed Ashore”. Also re-recording major Platters hits like “Only You”, “The Great Pretender” and “The Magic Touch.” You can hear Sonny’s voice in various movies such as “The Nutty Professor II” starring Eddie Murphy, “Hearts in Atlantis” starring Anthony Hopkins, and “Prince of the City” starring Robert DeNiro.
In 2005, Mr. Turner received The Lifetime Excellence in Entertainment presented to him by consumer’s entertainment exchange and Doo Wop Hall of Fame.
In 2009 Sonny Turner was inducted into the Pacific Avenue of the Stars in Wildwood New Jersey. In 2008 he received The Gateway Classic Lifetime Achievement Award. He received the Black Music Award in 2007. Sonny has been inducted into the Beach Music Hall of Fame and Vocal Group Hall of Fame. He is recognized by the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in his hometown Cleveland, Ohio. Sonny was instrumental in getting the truth in music laws passed in the state of Nevada and North Dakota.
In 2013, Sonny’s home state, The State of West Virginia and Senator A James Manchin, honored Sonny Turner with a plaque and inducted him into the Hall of Fame.
There is only one surviving member of The Platters still alive today that can be heard on the hundreds of recordings and hit records that made The Platters one of the most successful vocal groups of all time, and that is Sonny Turner. Sonny remained with The Platters from late 1959 until 1970 when he left to pursue a solo career.
Today Sonny continues to perform all over the world.
Larry Chance & The Earls
From the late 1950’s into the new millennium, the Earls have continuously pleased audiences with their flawless harmonies and ceaseless vitality. Larry Chance and the Earls represent the music that helped define Rock N Roll in the original Doo-wop era. An era that put the street corner society onto the national charts. Larry Chance grew up in a neighborhood noted for its show business roots. Such talents as Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker, Mario Lanza, Danny & the Juniors, Joey Bishop, David Brenner, and more. It was here Larry Chance began his love affair with show business.
It was 1955 when Larry’s family moved to the Bronx. NY. Here is where he formed the Earls in 1957. Since then, the Earls have gone on to achieve numerous accolades including nominations to the vocal group Hall Of Fame, the Atlantic City entertainer oF the year awards, the Doo-wop Hall Of Fame and the Bronx Walk Of Fame. Larry is the quintessential performer, Mr. Entertainment!
Norman Fox & The Rob Roys
In The Beginning
Norman Fox & The Rob-Roys were one of the earliest interracial quintets & one of the most underrated & overlooked groups. With his distinctive lead voice, Norman Fox ,16, of the Bronx hooked up with DeWitt Clinton High School friends Robert Thierer (17, baritone), Marshall “Buzzy” Helfand (17, bass), Bob Trotman (16, first tenor) and Andre Lilly (16, second tenor) in 1956 to form a dynamic vocal mix with their Jewish/black coalition (Trotman and Lilly were originally members of the Harmonaires on Holiday.) They practiced in the school’s bathroom, at Norman’s house on Henry Hudson Parkway, and at Robert’s Knolls Crescent address, sharpening their sound on songs like THE HEARTBEATS’ “Rockin’ and Rollin'” and their own “Tell Me Why”. Influenced by other groups like THE HARPTONES, THE EL DORADOS, THE CLEFTONES, THE TEENAGERS, and the Heartbeats, the Bronx quintet developed their own unique sound at the same time the racially mixed DEL-VIKINGS were getting it all together in Pittsburgh. Early in 1957 Bob Trotman met Don Carter, New York agent for the Duke/Peacock organization, at Buddy’s Record Shop on 167th Street in the Bronx, and told him of their group. After a live audition in that very same record store, the Bronx boys found themselves contracted to the Texas-based record label.
Name & Hits
In late 1958
In the late ’80s
In late 1991
In May 1992
Jimmy Clanton is best known for his performance in Go Johnny Go, the 1959 Alan Freed-produced jukebox movie. Clanton was a dedicated R&B enthusiast and singer with a great voice and a genuine feel for New Orleans music. What’s more, he also wrote many of the songs that he recorded.
Jimmy Clanton’s is known for Doo-wop hits such as Just a Dream, Ship on a Stormy Sea, My Love Is Strong, Letter to an Angel, A Part of Me, My Own True Love, Venus in Blue Jeans, Darkest Street in Town, Go Jimmy Go and Don’t Look at Me. Clanton had appearances on American Bandstand and reached Billboard Pop Chart Top 10 multiple times in his career.
At age 14 KATHY YOUNG caught the eye of a producer at a Wink Martindale TV show and within weeks she recorded what quickly became a #1 HIT with “A THOUSAND STARS” and became nicknamed “THE CINDERELLA OF SHOW BUSINESS “. She traveled the U.S., Hawaii and Canada with Roy Orbison, The Everly Brothers, The Shirrells, Bo Diddly, Connie Francis, Brenda Lee, Ray Charles and Neil Sedaka just to name a few and appeared on American Bandstand four times where she received her gold record for “A THOUSAND STARS”. She followed up with singles “Happy Birthday Blues”, “Magic Is The Night” and recorded a series of hit songs with Chris Montez as “Chris & Kathy”. As she did in 1960, KATHY YOUNG will “capture you in her charms” for she remains one of the brightest stars of her generation.
Charles Weldon (Original lead singer of The Paradons)
In The Beginning
Actor and artistic director Charles Weldon was born in Wetumka, Oklahoma on June 1, 1940 to Beatrice Jennings. At the age of seven, his family moved to Bakersfield, California. Here he worked in nearby cotton fields until seventeen, when he joined the local doo-wop group, The Paradons.
Singing & Acting
After the success of their 1960 hit single, “Diamonds and Pearls,” The Paradons eventually dissolved. This left Charles Weldon to work a series of odd jobs and performing with the soul group, Blues For Sale. Then he discovered his love of acting. His sister & actress Ann Weldon introduced him to the theater group Dialogue Black/White, which was producing Oscar Brown, Jr.’s Big Time Buck White. After appearing in the musical Hair at Geary Theater in San Francisco, Charles Weldon accepted Brown’s offer to go to New York City. Here he performed in the renamed Buck White, starring Muhammad Ali in his only Broadway appearance. In 1970, Weldon joined the three-year-old Negro Ensemble Company and performed in Joseph Walker’s Ododo. In 1973, he starred in Paul Carter Harrison’s The Great MacDaddy and played “Skeeter” in Joseph Walker’s The River Niger.
Movies & Television
The 1976 film version of this play had him appearing alongside stars James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson. Weldon also appeared in several other Hollywood movies including the caper Who’s Minding the Mint? His film credits include Serpico (1975), Stir Crazy (1980), Fast Walking (1982), Spike Lee’s Malcolm X(1992), and The Wishing Tree (1999). Throughout his film career, Weldon continued to perform with the Negro Ensemble Company, acting in Charles Fuller’s A Soldier’s Play in 1981. He appeared in several television mini-series, including A Woman Called Moses(1978) and Roots: The Next Generation (1979). His television credits also include Sanford and Son, Hill Street Blues, Kojak, St. Elsewhere, L.A. Law, and Law & Order.
In 2004, Weldon was named the artistic director of the Negro Ensemble Company. Under his guidance, the company averted bankruptcy, eliminated its debt, and expanded its educational mission. Additionally, Weldon directed Leslie Lee’s Blues in a Broken Tongue, Jimmy Barden’s Offspring, Samm Art-Williams’ The Waiting Room, and Layon Gray’s WEBEIME. Weldon also produced the Negro Ensemble Company’s Sundown Names and Night-Gone Things.
Co-founder of the Negro Ensemble Company, Inc.’s Alumni Organization, Weldon received the Audelco Award for best supporting actor. He also received the Remy award for best leading actor, and the 2006 Henry Award for the Best Supporting Actor in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean.
Charles Weldon lives in New York, New York.
The Dukes Of Doo-Wop
Southern California’s Premier Acapella Group
These soulful voices originated on the streets of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New Jersey. The Dukes of Doo-Wop’s streetcorner style comes from a rich history of present group members being a part of past legendary groups such as The Five Sharks – pioneers of this genre, The Encounters, and Deke and The Blazers. Their style comes from a time when vocal quality and harmony was most important. They sang on street corners, subways, and in building lobbies, where individual voices took on the life of instruments that created melodies and vocal arrangements that filled your heart and nourished your soul. Formed in the late summer of 2011 The Dukes of Doo-Wop have come a long way in a short time. They have shared the stage with Doo Wop and Rock N Roll legends such as: The Tokens (Lion Sleeps Tonight), Norman Fox and The Rob Roys (Pizza Pie), Diamond David Somerville (Little Darlin), The Coasters, The Duprees, Kathy Young, Randy Safuto (Randy & The Rainbows), The Legendary Teenagers, The Drifters, Cleveland Stills & The Dubs, John Kuse (The Excellents), Jimmy Gallagher & The Passions, The Fleetwoods, Jimmy Charles, Brian Hyland, The Olympics, Chris Montez, Tony Middleton (The Willows), Freddie “Boom Boom” Cannon, Jimmy Clanton, and Johnny Farina (Santo & Johnny) . They opened the CBS Studio Centers July 4th celebration singing live on KCAL Channel 9 and CBS Channel 2 as well as a full performance on the back lot. They have brought their talents to the Doo Wop Music Hall Of Fame headlining at the Walley Roker and The Heartbeats induction. Mr. Rock n Roll himself, Mr. Brianne Bierne, K-Earth 101 Radio personality has had The Dukes of Doo-Wop open his annual Glendale Cruise Night.