On this day in music history: December 3, 1956…

On this day in music history: December 3, 1956 – “Come Go With Me” by The Del-Vikings is released. Written by Clarence Quick, it is the debut single and biggest hit for the doo wop vocal quintet from Pittsburgh, PA. Formed in 1955, Clarence Quick, Kripp Johnson, Samuel Paterson, Don Jackson, Clarence Harvey Ringo and Bernard Robertson are in the US Air Force when they begin singing together. The first line up changes when Robertson and Paterson are sent overseas to Germany, and are replaced by Norman Wright and David Lerchey. The inspiration for their name comes Quick and Ringo are in the airbase’s library. Either from a book about vikings, a basketball team called The Vikings, or from the book publisher Viking Press. The “Del” portion is added simply because they like how it sounds. The Del-Vikings are also one of the first prominent racially integrated vocal groups, with Lerchey being white, and the other four members are African-American. It isn’t long before they attract interest from local DJ Barry Kaye and Joe Averbach, of local label Fee Bee Records. Initially recording nine songs a cappella in Kaye’s basement studio, They’re re-recorded with Averbach in a studio located in the Sheraton Hotel in Pittsburgh with a band backing them. “How Can I Find True Love” and “Come Go With Me”, are issued as their first single. “Come” takes off locally, and is then picked up nationally by Dot Records in January of 1957. Entering the Billboard Best Sellers chart at #21 on March 2, 1957 and entering the R&B Best Sellers chart at #13 on March 16, 1957. An instant classic, “Come Go With Me” peaks at #4 on the Best Sellers chart and #2 on the R&B chart on May 6, 1957, selling over a million copies. But with success come tensions within the group, splitting them into two factions. When their manager Alan Strauss receives a more lucrative offer from Mercury Records, the four younger members of the group who were all under 21, jump ship. Kripp Johnson who is older, is still bound to Dot at continues to record under The Del-Vikings name with replacement members. Dot issues “Whispering Bells” as the follow up and it too becomes a big hit, peaking at #9 on the Best Sellers chart and #5 on the R&B Best Sellers chart. The other line up are only able to notch one chart single on Mercury with “Cool Shake” (#12 Pop, #9 R&B). Johnson returns to the group and sign with ABC-Paramount, but do not have another hit before breaking up in 1965. Regarded as one of the definitive doo wop records, “Come Go With Me” is covered numerous times including versions by Dion, The Beach Boys, The Fleetwoods, Sha-Na-Na and is also one of the first songs performed on stage by John Lennon and The Quarrymen, on the day he and Paul McCartney first meet in July of 1957. The Del-Vikings original version is later used in the films “American Graffiti”, “Diner”, “Stand By Me” and “Joe Versus The Volcano”. “Come Go With Me” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.