PBS “DOO WOP” FILMS IN NEW JERSEY
T. J. Lubinsky’ TJL Productions and PBS-TV filmed the newest installment of their successful “Doo Wop” series over three nights, May 15-17, 2007, at the Ritz Theatre in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Over 30 acts performed before the cameras and a live audience. Tuesday’s schedule included the Eternals, Excellents, Knockouts, Larry Chance and the Earls, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs and reunion performances by the Safaris, Three Friends, and Volumes. On Wednesday, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Carol Connors of the Teddy Bears, Emil Stucchio and the Classics, Cleveland Still’s Dubs, the Demensions, Jimmy Charles, Norman Fox and the Rob-Roys, Passions, Six Teens, Mystics, and Tokens were presented.
This writer made the trip for the final night of taping, which opened with sets by the Capris and Ben E. King. Charlie Thomas and his Drifters followed with a set of favorites including “Sweets For My Sweet” and “Under The Boardwalk”. King then returned for a climaxing version of “Stand By Me”, backed by Thomas’ group. Thomas, 70, Bobby Hendricks, who led the 1958 hit, “Drip Drop”, and 81-year old Drifters’ founder Bill Pinkney, joined in, each singing a verse, and bringing the crowd to their feet.
Joined by Hendricks, Pinkney and his Original Drifters offered authentic versions of “Gonna Move Across The River”, “Money Honey”, “Fools Fall in Love”, “Drip Drop”, and “White Christmas”. Backed by Pure Gold, a solo set from Hendricks followed. “I’m proud to be here tonight,” Pinkney told the surprisingly sparse crowd of less than 500, just six weeks before his July 4 death. “I’d like to thank your parents and your grandparents for playing our music and passing it on. By being here tonight, you, and your children, will know what good music is all about.”
The Velours- Jerome Ramos, John Cheatdom, Donald Haywoode, John Pearson, and Keith Williams took to the stage for the first time in 45 years to perform a sparkling “Can I Come Over Tonight”. Twelve-year old up-and-coming sensation “Kid Kyle” fronted Richie Johnson’s Students and into Frankie Lymon’s shoes for a bit, leading the Legendary Teenagers on “The ABC’s of Love” and “Am I Fooling Myself Again”.
After a break in filming, the Teenagers- Timothy Wilson, Bobby Jay, Dickie Harmon and original member Herman Santiago- returned for one of the most energetic and polished sets of the night. The Rainbows, with original lead Ron “Poozie” Miles, countered with a wonderful version of their 1955 hit, “Mary Lee”.
The reorganized Solitaires- Milton Love, Don Cruz, Ray Goodwin, Al Grant, and Frank Morrow- appeared next to perform “The Angels Sang”, “The Wedding”, and “Walking Along” and were among the finest exponents of vocal group harmony on this night.
The Clovers, with King Raymond Green and Prentice Floyd handling the leads, were joined on stage by sole surviving original, bass Harold Winley, for a three-song set. Sharply-dressed and delivering soulful harmonies, the quartet’s renditions of “Lovey Dovey”, “Devil Or Angel”, and “Love Potion #9” were accented nicely by Winley’s mellifluous bass. Pentagons’ lead Joe C. Jones wrapped up the proceedings with a two-song set, including a smooth “I Wonder (If Your Love Will Ever Belong To Me)”, backed by Pure Gold. The final edit of the program is expected to be broadcast over public television stations throughout the United States in November.