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March 1, 2012

A Doo-Wop Shop Prepares to Close, Signaling the End of a Fading Genre

The New York Times:

The end is near for Ronnie I’s Clifton Music after 40 years on Main Avenue — yet another victim of the Internet, the economy, and changing tastes in music and shopping.

But this time it is not just a store that is dying, four years after its founder did, but perhaps a whole genre of music as well. For the aging fans of the group harmony of the Harptones and the Heartbeats, the Orioles and the Ravens, the Five Keys and the Five Satins, the passing of Clifton Music is a reminder that rock ’n’ roll may never die, but one hyperbolic sect, the fading kingdom of doo-wop, just might.

In a world where fans and the remaining performers are almost invariably in their 60s and 70s, or older, no one did more to keep it alive than Ronnie Italiano, a beverage company delivery man turned doo-wop dynamo. He ran the store, which carried only doo-wop, and put out around 150 CDs, either compilations or originals he produced and recorded, and at least 50 LPs and more than 100 45s. He formed an organization, the United in Group Harmony Association, with 2,000 members at its peak, that became the community square for fans and put on 354 monthly doo-wop shows.

His efforts, and those of others, will provide a permanent historical record, whether on dusty liner notes or on YouTube videos, that augments iconic songs like “Rama Lama Ding Dong” by the Edsels or “In the Still of the Night” by the Five Satins. But fans and collectors say that as a business, a living tradition and a part of American entertainment, doo-wop seems destined to go the way of Clifton Music. Read more.

Funnily enough not five minutes before reading this article I was reminiscing with somebody about the old days with Ronnie I. He certainly was a colorful character and did tend to stir things up however he did so much to preserve the doo wop legacy. I just wish he would of spent more than around $10 for the recording of his albums (or so it sounds). I think there will always be a niche for doo wop and will probably get reinvented every decade or so. Currently Bruno Mars seems to be using the doo wop sound in his music and style.

Posted by acapnews at March 1, 2012 12:00 AM