Airdate – Dec 31, 2000
In 1956 a five man gospel group from Roxbury, Massachusetts was signed to a recording contract thanks to being discovered at a local record hop. In a local studio they recorded “Ka-Ding Dong.”
The song stayed on the charts for 13 weeks peaking at the #24 position. Featured on this record was a 15 year old lead guitarist by the name of Freddie Cannon.
The group appeared destined for bigger and better things but literally disappeared until the fall of 1961 when they returned to the charts with their biggest hit, one that has become a New Year’s Eve classic amongst “golden oldies” fans …
The five man group that recorded “Ka-Ding Dong’ consisted of four brothers (Teddy, Chris, Timmy, and Arnold Scott) and a close friend, Ray Gipson. After a while of touring, the boys returned to Boston to finish their education.
Influenced by the Drifters, the Five Keys and the Dominoes, this doo-wop/R&B vocal group had its first gig at a roller-skating rink in 1953. Active entrepreneurs, they ran their own dances, renting halls for $50 a night, then selling tickets and performing. There is much speculation that one of their biggest challenges in obtaining ongoing gigs was the fact that they were an all-black group that sounded white.
During the summer of 1961, the group, sans Freddie Cannon’s guitar playing, were brought back into the studio by Jack Gold of Pilgrim Records and recorded a song that was sold to Terrace Records. It went to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 that December despite being a remake of a #6 hit for the Four Tunes in 1954.
In the early 60’s, no celebration on New Year’s Eve was complete without this sentimental ballad being played at the stroke of midnight. Adding the classic melody “Auld Lang Syne” in the background, the five boys from Boston, better known as the G-Clefs, lamented that “I Understand (Just How You Feel),” this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.
YouTube video of this song:
This “Moments In Time” story is yet another example of a “golden oldie” or forgotten favorite that earned its place in the evolution of Rock & Roll.