The Marcels


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The guys who put the "Bomp" in the "Bomp-A-Bomp"

The Marcels formed in 1959 in Pittsburgh comprised of lead singer Cornelius Harp, bass Fred Johnson, Gene Bricker, Ron Mundy, and Richard Knauss. The group was named after a popular hair style of the day (the Marcel wave). In 1961 the Marcels recorded a Doo-Wop version of the Rogers and Hart ballad, "Blue Moon" that began with the bass singer saying, "Bomp baba bomp, ba bomp ba bomp bomp...."  The night that  received a copy of the single New York DJ Murray the K liked it so much that he played "Blue Moon" 26 times during his four-hour show.  It took the nation by storm in four weeks.  The record sold over one million copies, topping both the Pop and R&B charts at Number One.  It was an international hit reaching number one in England, number two in New Zealand, number four in Australia, number seven in Holland and Sweden, number five in Denmark, and sixth in French Belgium.  It was also in the Top 10 in Israel, Norway, Spain, South Africa, and France. "Bomp-da-bomp binga-bong-bing" became an international phrase.    The Marcles earned their first gold record.   The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named the Marcels's "Blue Moon" as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.  The Marcels were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002.

The Marcels hit the charts again with their doo wop take on the Gershwin classic  "Summertime".  It reached number 78 on the Hot 100 in May of 1961.  Alan Johnson and Walt Maddox replaced Knauss and Gene Bricker in the summer of 1961.  The new line up recorded more songs in September and October of 1961.  They scored a second big hit and a Gold Record in October of 1961 with "Heartaches" that peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 19 on the R&B charts.  Their self parody "Melancholy Baby" reached number 58 on the Hot 100 in February of 1962.  Another single "Friendly Loans reached number 75 on the U.S. Charts and number 31 in Australian in July of 1962.  They continued to release singles on the Coldpix label until the middle of 1963.  After 1963 the Marcels released single on the  Kyra, Queen Bee, St. Clair, Rocky, and Monogram labels.

The Marcels appeared in the 1961 movie "Twist Around the Clock" with Dion and Chubby Checker.  They sang "Blue Moon and the song "Merry Twistmas".   Their music has been featured in the movies "American Werewolf in London", "Private Parts", and "Four Friends" along with several television series.  The reunited Marcels appeared on the    "Doo Wop 50"  reunion show in 1999 and the "My Music: Rock, Pop & Doo Wop" show in 2011 that were aired on PBS stations.  

From Pittsburgh to Overnight Stardom

The Marcels formed in 1959 while they were attending Oliver High School in Pittsburgh.  They practiced for a year before they recorded a demo tape of their Doo Wop arrangements of cover tunes.  Their manager Jules Kruspir sent a demo tape to Coldpix Records.  Stu Phillips, Colpix's A&R director Colpix, brought the group to New York. He snuck them into a studio for a short recording session on February 15, 1961.  They recorded Blue Moon in 10 minutes with only two takes.  A Coldpix radio promotions man heard the master and took it to that night to the all night DJ Murry K of WINS radio.  Murry went nuts and immediately put it on the air.  Coldpix starting taking orders the next day.  Within four weeks Blue Moon knocked of Elvis Presley to become the Number One song in America.

Blue Moon
Heartaches