The Rocketones (Brooklyn, New York)
Bill Witt (Lead Tenor)
Ronald Johnson (Tenor)
Allan Days (Tenor)
Harold Chapman (Baritone)
Arthur Blackman (Bass)
1957 - Mexico / Dee I (Melba 113)
Once upon a time there was a vocal group made up of five Brooklyn teenagers who called themselves The Avalons. They were Bill Witt, Allen Days, Harold Chapman, Ron Johnson, and Arthur Blackman. After many hours harmonizing in the school halls and on the streetcorners of their neighborhood. When the boys felt that they were ready for an attempt to put out a record they headed over to Manhattan and made the rounds of the independent record companies. The most encouragement the group received was from record man Morty Craft who at the time was the head of Melba Records.
When the arrived for rehearsals for their time in the recording studio, they ran through two songs that Bill Witt had written for the group. The songs were "Mexico" and "Dee I". Although the group had recorded the sides, the actual record was not released for a number of months. Finally in 1957, the record was released on Melba # 113. The Avalons were surprised that they had become The Rocketones, due to other groups using their original name. Also their version of "Mexico" had been given some added 'atmosphere' with the obvious spliced in intro of the tyraditional Pasa Dobles - the authentic call to order at bull fights in Spain. It may have been a surprise to the group that made the record, but to listeners it was a rock classic. It had an irresistable "hook" that never seemed to leave your mind for any length of time, and it was a hummable tune that made you snap your fingers and smile. "Mexico" was a favorite on radio in the Northeast and gave a lot of promise of things to come from the group.
But unbelievably, that was the entire history of the group known as The Rocketones. In a year Bill Witt went on to join The Paragons and other groups in future years. The others drifted away, some to the military and the group never recorded again. So we have the archetype example of the "one hit wonders" so prevalent in the age of the rock 'n roll single records. But what a one hit it was. One of the greatest jump tunes by a vocal group in the fifities, "Mexico" is the perfect example of the glory of the times.
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