Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-The Willows
Song:Church Bells May Ring
Album:The Doo Wop Box
Church Bells May Ring was a #11 R & B hit in 1956. It should have been a pop hit too but was eclipsed by The Diamonds cover version. Though Tony Middleton was lead singer of the group, he wasn't an original member. They began as The Dovers at 115th & Lenox in Harlem in 1952. The group was started by twin brothers Ralph (2nd tenor) & Joe (baritone) Martin along with Bobby Robinson, Richie Davis (1st tenor) & Freddie Donovan (bass). One day they were singing out on the stoop and along came aspiring boxer Tony Middleton. They invited him to join and Robinson left and opened a record store. They changed the name to The Five Willows. They recorded some singles but didn't get anywhere until Middleton met Morty Craft in 1955. He took them into the studio and Church Bells May Ring reached #11 on the R & B charts in 1956. Middleton wrote the song but Craft was notorious for his shady dealings. He took a songwriting credit and then sabotaged The Willows version by licensing the song to Mercury so The Diamonds could record it. They successfully sued Craft for royalties. The Willows continued to record unsuccessfully and split up in 1961. But you can get Church Bells May Ring on Rhino's 4CD Doo Wop Box. Tony Middleton has recorded occasionally but has had a significant career on Broadway especially in the 70s musical Purlie. Along with Richie Davis, he continues to lead The Willows on the oldies circuit. Here are The Willows performing Church Bells May Ring on the PBS Doo Wop Love Songs special.