The Dovells aka The Brooktones
The Dovells aka The Brooktones (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Len Borisoff (Len Barry) (Lead and Tenor)
Jerry Gross (Jerry Summers) (First Tenor)
Mark Gordesky (Mark Stevens) (Tenor)
Mike Freda (Mike Dennis) (Second Tenor)
Arnie Silver (Arnie Satin) (Baritone)
Jim Mealey (Danny Brooks) (Bass)
1961 - No No No / Letters Of Love (Parkway 819)
1961 - Bristol Stomp / Out In The Cold Again (Parkway 827)
1961 - Bristol Stomp / Letters Of Love (Parkway 827)
1962 - Do The New Continental / Mope-Itty Mope Stomp (Parkway 833)
1962 - Bristol Twistin' Annie / The Actor (Parkway 833 )
1962 - Hully Gully Baby / Your Last Chance (Parkway 845)
1962 - The Jitterbug / Kissin' In The Kitchen (Parkway 855)
1963 - Save Me, Baby / You Can't Run Away From Yourself (Parkway 861)
1963 - Wildwood days / You Can't Sit Down (Parkway 867)
1963 - You Can't Sit Down / Stompin' Everywhere (Parkway 867)
1963 - Betty In Bermudas / Dance The Froog (Parkway 882)
1963 - Stop Monkeyin' Aroun' / No No No (Parkway 889)
1964 - Be My Girl / Dragster On The Prowl (Parkway 901)
1964 - Happy Birthday Just The Same / One Potato Two Potato Three Potato Four (Parkway 911)
1964 - What In The World Has Come Over You / Watusi With Lucy (Parkway 925)
1965 - Happy / Alright (Swan 4231)
1964 - Our Winter Love / Blue (Jamie 1369)
1966 - Happy summer days / Long after (Diamond 198)
1966 - There's A Girl / Love Is Everywhere (MGM 13628)
1968 - Her comes the judge / Girl (by the magistrales) (MGM 13946)
1969 - One winter love / Blue (Jamie 1369)
1970 - Kiss the hurt away / He cries like a baby (Decca 32919)
1970 - Roll Over Beethoven / Something About You Boy (Event 3310)
1972 - Mary's Magic Show / Don't Vote For Luke McAbe (MGM 14568)
1972 - Sometimes / Far Away (Verve 10701)
1974 - Dancing In The Streets / Back On The Road Again (Event 216)
1983 - Baby work out / Hully gully baby (Abkco 4029)
N/A - L-O-V-E, love / We're all in this together (Paramount 0134)
1961 - Bristol Stomp / Out In The Cold Again / Little Girl Of Mine / Desirie / Foot Stompin' / Three Coins In The Fountain / Mope-Itty Mope / I Really Love You / Change / No No No / Let's Twist Again (Parkway LP 7006)
1962 - In The Still Of The Night / There Goes My Baby / Your Last Chance / Trickle Trickle / The Clock / Two People In The World / Bristol Twistin' Annie / Why Do Fools Fall In Love / To Make A Long Story Short / Little Bitty Pretty One / I Want You To Be My Girl / Oh What A Night (Parkway LP 7010)
1962 - Hully Gully Baby / Jitterbug / Kissin' In The Kitchen / Stompin' Everywhere / Time For The Madison / Hully Gully Square Dance / Country Club Hully Gully / Cheat/Do The New Continental / Why Not You / Hully Gully / Stop Look And Listen (Parkway LP 7021)
1963 - You Can't Sit Down / Short Fat Fanny / 36-22-36 / Maybellene / Miss Daisy De Lite / Hey Beautiful / Baby Workout / Wildwood Days / If You Wanna Be Happy / Lockin' Up My Heart / Summer Job / Havin' A Good Time (Parkway LP 7025)
1963 - You Can't Sit Down / Bristol Stomp / Hully Gully Baby / Baby Workout / If You Wanna Be Happy / Trickle Trickle (Cameo LP 1067)
1964 - Dance The Froog / The Jitterbug / Stop Monkeying Around / Bristol Stomp / Time For The Madison / Swimmin' USA / Stompin' Everywhere / Hully Gully Baby / Betty In Bermudas / Do The New Continental (Wyncote LP 9052)
1965 - Hearts Are Trump (Len BARRY) / Don't Come Back (Len BARRY) / Havin' A Good Time / Lockin' Up My Heart / Save Me Baby / Miss Daisy DeLite / Little White House (Len BARRY) / Jim Dandy (Len BARRY) / Bristol Stomp / You Can't Sit Down / Betty In Bermudas / 36-22-36 (Cameo LP 1082)
1965 - Bristol Stomp / Hully Gully Baby / The Jitterbug / Letters Of Love / You Can't Run Away From Yourself / You Can't Sit Down / No No No / Country Club Hully Gully / Dragster On The Prowl / Be My Girl (Wyncote LP 9114)
The Dovells are best known for a handful of early-'60s dance hits, including their biggest one -- "The Bristol Stomp" -- number one (according to Cash Box) and number two (Billboard) on the pop charts in 1961, climbing its way to number seven on the R&B charts as well. They went on to have four more dance hits, three of which charted in the Top 40, giving them five different charters to five different dances in a little over a year during 1962, including "Do the New Continental" (number 37), "Bristol Twistin' Annie" (number 27), "Hully Gully Baby" (number 25), and a Top 100 charter, "The Jitterbug" (number 82).
The Dovells originally formed in 1957 as the Brooktones, taking their name from Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, where each of the original members -- Jerry Gross (aka Jerry Summers), lead and first tenor, Len Borisoff (aka Len Barry), lead and tenor, Mike Freda (aka Mike Dennis), second tenor, Arnie Silver (aka Arnie Satin), baritone, Jim Mealey, bass, and part-timer Mark Gordesky (aka Mark Stevens), tenor -- attended classes. They began singing at local school functions and occasionally at John Madara's record store, located at 60th and Market Streets in Philly. (Madara had co-written "At the Hop" for Danny & the Juniors, in addition to other classics).
Inspired by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers -- they would even record "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" and "I Want You to Be My Girl" -- the Brooktones performed for the next few years and even though their "No, No, No" gained some recognition in Philadelphia, the group had little success outside the immediate area and disbanded. Summers and Dennis left to form a new group called the Gems with Mark Stevens and Alan Horowitz in the summer of 1960. In the meantime, Barry and the other Brooktones were negotiating to sign with Bob Marcucci's Chancellor Records (home to teen idols Fabian and Frankie Avalon), adding William Shunkwiler and Jerry Sirlin.
In December of 1960, after a live audition was arranged for the quintet with Cameo/Parkway, they were quickly signed to the label. Barry later asked Summers to come back and help out on the harmonies and at Summer's suggestion, Mike Dennis also joined the group as well. They were now back to the core group. Cameo exec Bernie Lowe suggested the Brooktones change their name to the Deauvilles (after the Deuville Hotel in Miami Beach), but the group thought it was too hard to spell and changed it instead to the Dovells.
The Dovells' first single, released in March 1961, was a re-recorded version of "No, No, No" which fared little better the second time it was released. In May, the Dovells recorded "Out in the Cold Again" (a remake of the Teenagers' ballad) and a new song based on a dance that Parkway promotion man Billy Harper had witnessed kids doing at the Goodwin Fire Hall in Bristol, PA, just outside Philadelphia. It was called "The Stomp," so the Dovells' decided to give it a more formal name on their recording: "The Bristol Stomp." The song didn't chart during the summer of 1961, but in September, just as school was once again in session, the song broke out of the Midwest and began to get airplay, gaining enough momentum to go national by September 11. By mid-October, it was climbing the charts, making it all the way to number one
Parkway followed up the Dovells' "Bristol" with several dance-related Top 40 tunes. During 1962, the Dovells were immortalizing every dance Dave Appell and Kal Mann (who wrote many of the Dovells' songs) could think of, but didn't have another hit until "You Can't Sit Down," their version of Phil Upchurch's "break" song. In 1964, the Dovells recorded one of the first covers of "She Loves You" by a new English group called the Beatles, but Parkway delayed its release, and when the original shot to number one, it seemed like a bad idea to release the Dovells version (which continues to sit in a vault somewhere).
The Dovells backed up Fabian, Chubby Checker, and Jackie Wilson at the Brooklyn Fox and often recorded as an uncredited vocal group behind Checker (that's them on the hit "Let's Twist Again"). They toured continuously too, until the inevitable tensions arose and ultimately exploded at a Christmas show performance in Miami Beach in December 1963. Len Barry quit the group. (He later signed with Decca as a solo act and is today remembered best for his hit single "One, Two, Three," which charted at number two on the pop charts in November 1965.) Now down to a trio, the remaining Dovells recorded three Parkway singles in 1964 and toward the end of 1965, they appeared in the film Don't Knock the Twist, appearing alongside Dion, Chubby Checker, and the Marcels.
In the spring of 1968, Summers came up with an idea for a song based on a skit he saw on TV's "Laugh-In" comedy show. The song -- -- like the repeated phrase from the skit -- was "Here Come the Judge." It was recorded with a female lead, Jean Hillery, and was later released on MGM Records under the name "The Magistrates". The other Dovells later heard the song and were clearly miffed. That summer, "Judge" became East Coast smash (#54 on Billboard's Pop charts), and the Dovells toured behind it with Hillery; when she came out they'd become the Magistrates (despite the hit, they'd never record again). Later, Dennis was replaced by part-time Dovell Mark Stevens.
In 1974, the Dovells recorded a cover of "Dancin' in the Street," which had been a huge hit for Martha and the Vandellas ten years before in 1964, but their version -- for the Event label -- barely charted at number 105. They continued to perform until Satin gave notice that he, too, would be leaving the group. Stevens and Summers decided to continue, having band members filling in on vocals and developing a Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis-styled stage act to go with their million-selling hits. This approach enabled them to work for another 16 weeks a year in Las Vegas.
In 1991, Len Barry rejoined for two reunion performances. Summer and Stevens continue to perform nationally and internationally and have performed for former president Bill Clinton twice at inaugural balls. Summers also produces corporate events and runs an advertising agency when not performing with the Dovells.
Bryan Thomas, All Music Guide
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