Sunday, January 6, 2008

50 years ago: “At the Hop” hit #1 for first of 7 weeks

First posted 4/15/2020; updated 3/12/2021.

At the Hop

Danny & the Juniors

Writer(s): Artie Singer/John Medora/David White (see lyrics here)

First Charted: November 18, 1957

Peak: 17 US, 15 CB, 16 HR, 15 RB, 3 UK, 13 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.5 US, -- UK, 2.5 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 9.79 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Just as Elvis Presley had appropriated black music to become the King of Rock and Roll, this white vocal quartet tapped into the doo-wop format largely owned by black groups. They formed in high school in Philadelphia in 1955 as the Juvenairs and sang on street corners and local dances and parties. Their break came in 1957 when they decided to sing at the street corner right under the window of record producer John Madara. He introduced them to a DJ who, in turn, introduced them to Artie Singer, who owned Singular Records. Singer signed them. SJ

The group recorded “Do the Bop,” a song written by Madara and band member Dave White. SJ Singer was acquainted with Dick Clark, who hosted American Bandstand from Philadelphia and played the song for him. Clark was impressed, but since the bop dance craze was on the way out, he suggested changing the title to “At the Hop.” SJ

It wasn’t the only break the group got from Clark. When another act scheduled to appear didn’t show up, Danny & the Juniors filled in. The song was picked up by ABC Paramount Records for national distribution and would go on to top the pop and R&B charts. This was their only top-ten pop hit, but it became the biggest single of 1958. WHC

The song is “one of the all time great slabs of rock ‘n’ rolling exuberance;” DT it “makes you want to dance.” WI It is “reminiscent of the blues, while capitalizing on the upbeat feeling of 50s music.” KW It is a “catchy tune” WI with an “attractive beat” WI “and dumb words. The joybful, liberating power of a few well-chosen dumb words should never be underestimated.” WI

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Danny & the Juniors
  • KW (12/25/2013). “30 Songs That Changed the Course of Musical History” by Kayli Woods
  • SJ Bob Shannon and John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York, NY; Warner Brothers, Inc. Page 59.
  • DT Dave Thompson (2011). 1000 Songs That Rock Your World. Krause Publications: Iola, WI. Page. 281.
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 28.
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 79.
  • WI Paul Williams (1993). Rock and Roll: The Best 100 Singles. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc. Pages 37-8.

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