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Doo-wop is a style of vocal-based rhythm and blues music, which developed in African-American communities in the 1940s and which achieved mainstream popularity in the 1950s and early 1960s.[1] An African-American vocal style known as doo-wop emerged from the streets of northeastern and industrial Midwest cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, Newark and Pittsburgh. With its smooth, consonant vocal harmonies, doo-wop was one of the most mainstream, pop-oriented R&B styles of the 1950s and 1960s.


Origins of name

In the beginning and during its heyday, this type of music did not have a specific name; the term "doo-wop" was not used.

In the 1950s, this type of harmonized group sound was referred to (broadly) as "rock and roll", but more narrowly as "R&B". However, R&B was still too general a term, since R&B included single artists, instrumentalists, and jump blues bands, as well as vocal groups. At the time, the best and most accurate term used was probably "vocal group harmony", but the style still did not have an official name, despite the fact that it dominated the charts in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The term "doo-wop" first appeared in print in 1961, notably in the Chicago Defender, when fans of the music coined the term during the height of a vocal harmony resurgence.[2] There is confusion regarding which recording was the "first" to contain the phrase "doo-wop". There is general acknowledgement that the first hit record to use the syllables "doo-wop" in the refrain was the 1955 hit, "When You Dance" by The Turbans (Herald Records H-458), in which the chant "doo-wop" can clearly be heard.[3] As for the very first instance ever, there are several candidates: "doo-wop" can be heard in the 1953 release by The Clovers, "Good Lovin'" (Atlantic Records 1000); in the chorus of the 1954 song "Never" by a Los Angeles group called Carlyle Dundee & The Dundees (Space Records 201); the 1955 song "Mary Lee" by The Rainbows on Red Robin Records contains the background "do wop de wadda" and was a Washington DC regional hit on Pilgrim 703; the 1956 song "In the Still of the Night" by The Five Satins, featured the famous plaintive "doo-wop, doo-wah" refrain in the bridge; and finally, the little-known "I Belong To You" by the Fi-Tones in 1956 on the Atlas label (release #1055).

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