Monday, 8 March 2010

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 90 - The Valentines.

The Valentines – The Woo Woo Train
Rama 196

Ted Dixon was one of the sweetest men you could ever meet. He was gentle and caring, a great husband and father and one hell of a good neighbour. I should know, he was mine while I grew up and was my mum and dad’s for over thirty years. Ted passed away today, without a fuss and not wanting to put anybody out of their way. That’s the way he lived, and that’s why we loved him. I've chosen this song as it was Ted's middle name, having been born on Valentines Day - always the sweetheart.

The Valentines were an East Coast doo-wop band whose reputation exceeded their sales figures. Whilst they never had a hit record, their stage performances and choreography acquired near legendary status. They formed in the Sugar Hill district of Harlem in 1952 as the Mistletoes, and consisted of Raymond "Pop" Briggs (first tenor), Carl Hogan (second tenor), Mickey Francis (baritone), and Ronnie Bright (bass), before changing their name to The Dreamers.

When a young Philadelphia singer-songwriter named Richard Barrett joined the group, they became The Valentines, taken from the title of Mickey Francis' favorite song, My Funny Valentine. Raoul Cita of The Harptones brought them to Monte Bruce’s Bruce Records, before they signed with Hy Weiss’ Old Town Records label. In December 1954, they released Barrett’s Tonight Kathleen, probably their best known number.

In mid-1955, they moved to Rama label where Lily Maebelle almost was, a common theme with all their releases. By now they’d developed their trademark look, white jackets with red cloth hearts ("valentines") on the pockets, red shirts and pink bowties.
The Woo Woo Train became their best selling single in April 1956, and when they worked with Alan Freed, he’d have them coming onstage in a chugging conga line. It also became the theme song for famed Boston DJ Arnie Ginsberg.

They disbanded in 1958, with Richard Barrett becoming manager of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and discovering The Chantels. Ronnie Bright joined The Cadillacs for a while, and was the bass voice on Johnny Cymbal’s "Mr. Bass Man".

Anyway, rest in peace Ted, and my thoughts are with Audrey and Dave.

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