1955 saw the rise to prominence of several black vocal groups in the USA. Amongst them were; The Orioles (their 1948 hit It’s Too Soon To Know is often cited as the first real doo-wop record), The Crows, The Clovers, The Penguins, The Harptones, The Chords (“Sh-boom, life is but a dream…”), The Spaniels, The Cadillacs, The Five Royales, The Moonglows and many others.
Most of these groups relied on a single lead voice with three or four harmony singers providing occasional emphasis and background ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, which led to these groups being termed ‘doo wop’ groups (“doo-wop” was a favourite background chant in many of these songs).
Doo-wop’s roots go back to vocal groups like The Mills Brothers in the 1930s, but its trademark vocal noises were soon absorbed into rock & roll and soul – its influence on The Beach Boys is obvious – and that influence lives on.
The Darts brought the sounds back into the UK charts in the 1970s (It’s Raining, Boy From New York City), even if they weren’t wholly serious.
Billy Joel paid homage to doo-wop with The Longest Time, which deserved better than to stick at Number 25 in 1984.
You can still hear doo-wop’s echoes in mainstream acts today.