June 6, 1999, a legendary day to go down in history! Surviving pioneers of rhythm and blues from the 1950s & 1960s gather at Striver's Row in Harlem to have their picture taken in the style of the famous 1958 photo of jazz artists, "A Great Day In Harlem". Standing behind that illegally parked car are Gene Tompkins & Arthur Crier who originally came up with this wonderful idea and worked so hard (together with Beverly Lindsay & Clyde Frazier) to put it all together!
But let's start from the beginning of this momentous weekend!
On Saturday, June 5, at the invitation of the WFUV Group Harmony Review Host, Danny Romanello, we hosted some of the finest artists of 50s/60s Vocal Group Harmony - pictured here with Nikki & Jim are: Jay Johnson (Diablos, Velvet Angels, Andre Williams New Group, 4 Sonics), Vernon Williams (Royal Holidays, Satintones, Pyramids, 4 Sonics), & Bobby Calhoun (Diablos, Velvet Angels, Andre Williams New Group); Bill Lindsay (Starlings, Twilighters, Crickets, Bachelors, Montereys, Cadillacs), & his daughter, Beverly Lindsay (TV & documentary producer in DC, and an integral part of the production of the Great Day in Harlem's programming, events, and presentation concert (both not pictured here) were also guests with us on the air this day.
Together with Danny at the WFUV studios, Jay, Vern, & Bobby share a New York to Detroit friendship!
Registration on Sunday, June 6, shows Jay Johnson chatting with Earl "Speedo" Carroll about their groups (Diablos & Cadillacs) & recordings in the 1950's!
Teenagers (past & present) meet together: Herman Santiago, Jimmy Castor, Bobby Jay, & Jimmy Merchant are happy to be here!
Bobby Robinson of Red Robin Records talks with Billy Dawn Smith of the Billy Dawn Quartet.
Bill Lindsay & John E. Johnson talk about their days singing & recording together with the Starlings & the Twilighters.
The legends of Detroit (Vern Williams, Bobby Calhoun, & Jay Johnson) share some laughter and memories with Floyd "Buddy" McCrae of the Chords.
Again, Detroit meets New York - here Vern, Bobby, & Jay meet the never aging, dapper, Mr. Earl Lewis of the Channels!
And once more - Detroit meets New York! Bobby, Vern, & Jay meet Paul Himmelstein of the Heartbreakers.
And last, but certainly not least, the Detroit boys meet the lovely Vikki Burgess of the Joytones!
The Five Delights/Moodmakers - Waldo Champen, Ray Figueroa, & Ed Sonny Jordan - reminisce.
The Bobbettes jam a little on "Mr. Lee" while enjoying the festivities!
Jimmy "Handy Man" Jones of the Sparks of Rhythm, Savoys, Pretenders, takes a break and relaxes on the famous "photo steps" on Strivers Row!
Jay Johnson of the Diablos is happy to run into old Detroit buddy, Billy Butts of the Midnighters. And -- yes, that is Jim next to them!
But this is what we all really came for - the photo! Here they gather for one of many "shots", of this once-in-a-lifetime moment!
I couldn't help zooming in on some of those dearest to me - Waldo Champen, Bobby Calhoun, Jay Johnson, Bill Lindsay, & Vern Williams - all on the second to top row.
OK, guys & gals - hold your breath - we're almost done !!!!
After a very exciting day in the sun walking & talking, and an excellent concert at the Schomberg Theater, (details below), it's down to the Showman's Lounge on 125 Street for some food & spirits! Jim is enjoying the company of the lovely, talented Arnetta Livingston aka Savannah Smith, legendary blues singer. Savannah was backed up by the Halos and another group called the Gees, on some of her original recordings.
Barbara English of the Clickettes hits some great notes on stage here at the Showman's Lounge!
The very hardworking Gene Tompkins and Beverly Lindsay discussing the day's events and hopefully making plans for a return next year!!!!
Now it's time for Jim to do what he loves to do most - SING! Despite his sunburn (ouch!) he can still hit some great notes; here with Dick Plotkin of the Precisions and Savannah Smith, they are all very much in harmony!
What a wonderful, memorable day it was! Here is a list, (along with some of the groups these legends sang with) of those who were in attendance at The Great Day in Harlem on June 6, 1999!
Arthur Crier - 5 Chimes, Halos, Mellows;
Eugene Tompkins - Limelighters, Mellows;
Lillian Leach - Mellows;
Johnny Wilson - Mellows;
Jay Johnson - Diablos, Velvet Angels, 4 Sonics, Andre Williams new grp;
Bobby Calhoun - Diablos, Velvet Angels;
Bill Lindsay - Starlings, Twilighters, Crickets,Bachelors, Montereys, Cadillacs;
Vernon Williams - Royal Holidays, Satintones, Pyramids, 4 Sonics;
Arnetta Livingston aka Savannah Smith;
Floyd "Buddy" McRae - Chords;
Bobby Thomas - Orioles, Vibranaires;
Willie Winfield - Harptones;
William Dempsey - Harptones;
Rauel Cita - Harptones;
Lowe Murray - Harptones, Fitones;
Jimmy "Handyman" Jones - Sparks Of Rhythm, Savoys/Pretenders;
Richard Barrett - Valentines;
Mickey Freeman - Valentines;
Warren Suttles - Ravens;
Earl "Speedo" Carroll - Cadillacs;
Bobby Phillips - Cadillacs;
Freddy Barksdale - New Yorkers 5, Solitaires;
Milton Love - Concords, Solitaires;
Gene Pearson - Rivileers;
Milton Edwards - Rivileers;
Erroll Lennard - Rivileers;
Herb Crosby - Rivileers;
Alphonso Delaney - Rivileers;
Alexander "Pete" Graves - Moonglows;
Bobby "Jay" Jeffers - Laddins;
Jimmy Merchant - Teenagers;
Herman Santiago - Teenagers;
Jimmy Castor - Juniors;
Albert "Diz" Russell - Regals, Orioles;
Claude Johnson - Genies, Don & Juan;
Buzzy Brown - Beltones;
Robert Brown - Beltones;
Bob Ward - 5 Sharps;
Kinrod Johnson - Chips;
Nathaniel Epps - Chips;
Reese Palmer - Marquees; Orioles;
Arlene Smith - Chantels;
Sonia Goring - Chantels;
Lois Harris - Chantels;
Rene Minus - Chantels;
George Magnezid - Wrens;
Frenchie Concepcion - Wrens;
James Archer - Wrens;
Waldo "Champ Rollow" Champen - Supremes, 5 Delights, Mood Makers;
Herbie Cox - Cleftones;
Joe Duncan - Vocaleers;
Cleveland Still - Dubs;
Louise Harris - Hearts;
Jeanette "Baby" Washington;
John E. Johnson - Starlings, Twilighters;
Sylvester Bradford - Suburbans, Ivories;
Earl Lewis - Channels;
Jack Brown - Channels;
Luther Hudson - Channels;
Emma Pought - Bobbettes;
Reather Dixon - Bobbettes;
Laura Webb - Bobbettes;
Shirley Cole - Bobbettes;
Bobby Robinson - Red Robin, Whirlin Disc, & Fire records;
Morty Craft - Bruce & Melba Records;
Milt Grayson - Dominoes;
Paul Himmelstein - Heartbreakers;
Ed "Sonny" Jordan - Five Delights/Moodmakers;
Ray Figueroa - 5 Delights/Moodmakers;
Don Cruz - Metros;
Margie Clark - Jewels;
Grace Ruffin - Jewels;
Sandra Bears - Jewels;
Barbara English - Clickettes;
Sylvia Hammond Akridge - Clickettes;
Trudy McCartney Cunningham - Clickettes;
Eddie Jones - Demons/Cadillacs;
Timothy Wilson - Tiny Tim & the Hits;
Eddie Pardochi - Five Discs;
Shelly Buchansky - Vito & the Salutations/Five Discs;
Mike Stripoli - Five Discs;
Jack Scandura - Hallmarks/Uniques/Five Discs;
Joe Piazza - Blue Sonnetts;
Billy Dawn Smith - Billy Dawn Quartet;
Vicki Burgess - Joytones/Charmers;
Nelson Martin - Angels;
Tony Middleton - Willows;
Richard Davis - Willows;
Joe Martin - Five Willows;
Leroy Binns - Charts;
Kenny Butch Hamilton - Bop Chords;
Billy Butts - Midnighters;
Connie Questell - Connie & the Decoys;
Richard Freeman - Five Satins;
Frank Vignari - Neons;
Nick - Neons;
Larry Parrish - Epics;
Gary Lewis - Crests, Drifters, Cadillacs;
Roland Martinez - Solitaires, Vocaleers, Vocaltones;
Kim Smith - Socialites;
Lorraine Anthanio Lofaso - Socialites;
Marshall Cherry - Jesters;
Mel Lewis - Jesters;
Bobby Horn - Velons;
Buddy Owens - Velons;
Gilbert Farrell - Velons;
James Falwell - Velons;
Leon (actor in Temptations/Five Heartbeats movies);
Rose Marie McCoy (songwriter);
Shirley Crier Fields - Darlettes
Herman Velez - Eternals, Hemlocks
Jay Ernst - Hemlocks;
Don Raphael - Velours;
Nelson Shields - Velours;
Walter A. Jones - Don & Juan;
Gale Noble - Darlettes;
(Please note - Some last names, as well as some artists, may be missing; if you can supply additional information, please email us.)
This photographic event was created in the same spirit of the legends of jazz photograph taken in 1958 by photographer Art Kane. These historical photos were taken at Striver's Row at 211 West 138th Street in New York City. The photographs will be donated to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Studies (NYC), the Smithsonian Institution Center for African American Culture and History (Washington DC), and the Museum and Archive of African American Music (Indiana). With the hardworking efforts of Beverly, Gene, Arthur, & Clyde, a wonderful presentation & concert took place at the Schomburg Center after the photo sessions. The featured artists who performed (to standing ovations) were the Exhilerations, the Jewels, the Five Discs, the Solitaires, Baby Washington, the Voices of Doo-wop (aka Morrisania Review), a wonderful reunion performance of the Chantels with their original lead, Arlene Smith, and last but not least, a classic performance by Bill Lindsay doing lead on "You're Mine", backed up by the Voices of Doo-wop, in tribute to Dean Barlow. Beverly Lindsay did a tribute to Lavern Baker and brought on some of her swingdancers doing the DC hand-dance to Lavern's "Jim Dandy"! Soon after the concert ended, some of the artists & fans congregated in a small, friendly club called the Showman's Lounge on 125th Street, where there was some "jamming" by Jay Johnson, Bobby Calhoun, Savannah Smith, Barbara English, and many others! What a day! What a weekend!
JUNE 6, 1999, WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY: DOO-WOP and R&B VOCAL GROUP HARMONY IS INDEED ALIVE!!!!!
For more Great Day In Harlem Pictures, click HERE.
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