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Monday, 14 September 2015

Cornelius Harp born 14 September 1939

Cornelius “Nini” Harp (14 September 1939 – 5 June 2013) was the lead singer and one of the original members of the doo-wop group The Marcels.
The Marcels were formed at Oliver Allegheny High School in Pittsburgh an 1959. The original group was unique in its day as three of the members were African-Americans (Harp, Ronald Mundy and Fred Johnson) and two were white (Gene Brickner and Richard Knauss). They named themselves after Harp's hairstyle, the marcel.

In early 1961, the group cut a demo of a 1933 Richard Rogers / Lorenz Hart song “Blue Moon”. It so impressed the management at Colpix Records that they had a copy run over to disc jockey Murray “The K” Kaufmann who aired it 26 times the night it was recorded. Many were surprised to hear a new version of the ballad "Blue Moon", that began with the bass singer saying, "bomp-baba-bomp" and "dip-da-dip."
When Colpix finally got the song into the marketplace, it became a smash hit, going to number 1 in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Germany and France among other countries. The group returned to the studio to record a number of other “oldies” (which, at that time, were songs from the 30’s and 40’s) including their second, less successful, single Summertime (#24) and Heartaches (#7 U.S. / #3 U.K.).

After Heartaches, the Marcels were not able to put another major hit on the charts, ending their association with Colpix in 1963. They also went through numerous group changes. In August 1961, due to racial problems encountered in the Deep South while touring because of the group being multi-racial, Knauss and Bricker--the group's white members--left and were replaced by Allen Johnson (brother of Fred) and Walt Maddox, becoming an all black lineup.
Mundy left soon after, leaving the group a quartet. In 1962 Harp and Allen Johnson left, and were replaced by Richard Harris and William Herndon. There was a brief reunion of the original members in 1973. The group made several recordings in 1975 with Harp back on lead. Original member Gene Bricker died in 1983. Allen Johnson died in 1995. By the early 1990s the group included Johnson, Maddox, Harris, Jules Hopson, and Richard Merritt. The group split around 1995.

Fred Johnson formed his own group with new members, while the other four members recruited new bassist Ted Smith. Maddox won a lawsuit against Sunny James Svetnic, the manager of Johnson's group, for trademark infringement in 1996. Johnson reunited with Harp, Mundy and Knauss in 1999 for the PBS special Doo Wop 50.

Freddy Johnson (bass), Ron "Bingo" Munday (1st tenor), Cornelius Harp [front row] (lead), Rosie Hamlin, Dick Knauss (baritone), Gene Bricker (2nd tenor)

The Marcels were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002.  Blue Moon is featured in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
Cornelius Harp, died 5 June 2013.of natural causes. (Info from & Wikipedia.) 


boppinbob said...

For The Best of The Marcels go here:

01 Blue Moon
02 I'll Be Forever Loving You
03 I Wanna Be The Leader
04 That Old Black Magic
05 Honestly Sincere
06 Footprints In The Sand
07 Summertime
08 Heartaches
09 All Right, Okay, You Win
10 Goodbye To Love
11 Find Another Fool
12 My Melancholy Baby
13 Sweet Was The Wine
14 One Last Kiss
15 Friendly Loans
16 Crazy Bells
17 Blue Heartaches (Unreleased)
18 Over The Rainbow

A big thank you to Jake @ Jukebox City for link.

krobigraubart said...

Thanks a lot Bob!