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Cousin Brucie’s Doo Wop

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Cousin Brucie, left with The Teenagers (in red) and The Reflections Cousin Brucie, left with The Teenagers (in red) and The Reflections

Cousin Brucie, one of America’s most famous Radio personalities, hosted a nostalgia-filled Doo Wop concert in Boca Raton on Mar. 7. Held at Florida Atlantic University, the concert featured several acts from the 1950s and 60s.

Bruce Morrow (best known now as Cousin Brucie) is now 78 and has been at the centre of Doo Wop and rock ‘n roll from the early years. He began on radio in the US in 1959, and lived here in Miami in 1960 before launching his big career in New York City. It was Morrow who introduced The Beatles in their Shea Stadium concert of 1965. He is now a fixture on Sirius Satellite Radio, on the 60s on 6 channel. Concert producer Joe Mirrione called him “the voice of a generation.”

Brucie introduced Shirley Alston Reeves as one of his very first friends in the business. As the original lead singer of The Shirelles, Reeves delighted the audience with a series of her big hits, including Will You Love Me Tomorrow. “Carole King wrote this,” Reeves said. “Tell her I need another one like this!”

She also performed one of her own compositions, Tonight’s The Night. “I wrote this way back when McDonald’s only had one golden arch,” she joked.

The Reflections, a Detroit-based group, opened the concert . They are still led by the original lead singer, Tony Micale. He said their hit Romeo and Juliet debuted in March 1964 the same time as The Beatles took over the charts, “but we gave them a run for their money.” The group was one of few American ones to achieve chart success during the British Invasion of the 60s.

The original bass singer John Dean is also in the group today, and the quartet is filled out by Joey Finazzo (of The Seminoles) and Gary Banovetz (of The Larados). Their set included That’s Why We Love You So and a spine-tingling rendition of What A Feeling To Be Loved. Just marvellous.

“I’ll always keep this music alive as long as I have breath. And I’m full of hot air!” said Micale.

Jimmy Clanton with the editorJimmy Clanton with the editorThe great Jimmy Clanton from Louisiana launched his career in 1958 with Just a Dream. “I had no aspirations of stardom or a music career,” he told the audience. But after appearing on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand the song took off “and it sold all over the world. I wrote it in 20 minutes.”

It was a privilege to hear him sing his huge hits Go, Jimmy, Go and Venus in Blue Jeans. This review includes a picture of us taken after his performance.

Jimmy Merchant and Herman Santiago are the original members of Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers. Now, 58 years later, they perform together in The Legendary Teenagers. The new front singer is Timothy Wilson, original lead singer of another 50s group, Tiny Tim & The Hits. The quartet is rounded out now by Tommy Lockhart.

Merchant and Santiago are both members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cousin Brucie called The Teenagers “one of the most important groups in the development of Rock n Roll.”

Merchant said that when they were just 16 years old they did 90 one-night gigs in 90 days, and even “did a performance for The Queen of England. We established the youth movement in music right up to today with Justin Bieber. It is this group’s impact and influence that got us into the Hall of Fame.”

Among the hits they performed were ABC’s of Love and Why Do Fools Fall in Love.

After The Teenagers and The Reflections appeared on stage together (as shown in the lead picture with this story), the concert concluded with a 60s group, The Vogues. Bill Burkette was introduced as “His Royal Vogueness.” It was Burkette who started the group 49 years ago. They did my favourite song from 1968, My Special Angel and their first million-seller, Turn Around, Look At Me.

The next concert of old-time hits is just 3 weeks away on March 29. The same venue in Boca Raton will host singers from The Platters, Flamingos, Skyliners, Happenings and The Super Girls Group. Phone for tickets: 561-693-3632. Website: www.poprockdoowopp.com

Clifford Cunningham

Dr. Clifford Cunningham is a planetary scientist. He earned his PhD in the history of astronomy at the University of Southern Queensland, and has undergraduate degrees in science and ancient history from the University of Waterloo. In 2014 he was named a contributor to Encyclopedia Britannica. He is the author of 14 books on asteroids and the history of science. In 1999 he appeared on the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Asteroid 4276 was named in his honor in 1990 by the International Astronomical Union based on the recommendation of its bureau located at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

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