Friday, March 01, 2013

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-The Rooftop Singers

Artist:The Rooftop Singers
Song:Walk Right In
Album:Best of the Vanguard Years

At the height of the 60s folk boom, The Rooftop Singers topped the charts with Walk Right In in 1963. They had mixed success after that until they split up in 1967. The leader of The Rooftop Singers was Erik Darling. He was born Sept. 25, 1933 in Baltimore and grew up in upstate New York. By his early 20s, Darling was a fixture on the New York folk music scene. He formed The Tunetellers which became The Tarriers and they had a top five hit with Banana Boat Song in 1957 before Harry Belafonte's version was recorded. BTW, actor Alan Arkin was a member of The Tarriers. Darling replaced Pete Seeger in The Weavers in 1958 and was replaced by Eric Weissberg in The Tarriers. Darling left The Weavers in 1962 and happened to hear blues pioneer Gus Cannon's 1929 recording of Walk Right In. He decided to form a group to record the song. Darling had already recorded a couple of solo albums for Vanguard Records. He brought in Bill Svanoe and jazz singer Lynne Taylor, an unusual choice because she had sung with Benny Goodman and Buddy Rich. Darling updated the lyrics and Walk Right In topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in 1963. Gus Cannon was still alive so he made a lot of money from Walk Right In. They played the 1963 Newport Folk Festival. The success didn't last. Protest songs became popular in 1964 and Darling wasn't interested in protest songs. He was more interested in taking blues classics and updating them. Their 1965 single Tom Cat was banned from many radio stations due to suggestive lyrics. Lynne Taylor left the group in 1966 and was replaced by Mindy Stuart. She wasn't as good as Taylor and after recording one album with The Rooftop Singers, she was replaced by Patricia Street. Though The Rooftop Singers split up in 1967, Darling and Street continued to work as a duo and released the album The Possible Dream in 1975. This comp is a good intro to The Rooftop Singers music. Lynne Taylor died in 1982. Erik Darling continued to record folk music and even led the country group Border Town in the 90s. He died Aug. 3, 2008 at age 74. I think Erik Darling is an unsung legend of folk music. Here are The Rooftop Singers performing Walk Right In 1963.

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