Airdate – May, 2011
In reminiscing about Rock & Roll and its early days, we sometimes forget that, concurrently, in the late 50s through to the mid-60s there was a strong and very successful folk music movement in North America. It included the likes of the Kingston Trio; Peter, Paul & Mary; Judy Collins; Glen Yarbrough (former lead of the Limeliters); and the Womenfolk.
For a two-week period in the winter of 1963, a folk trio from New York City controlled the #1 position on the Billboard pop charts.
The leader of this group of three was Erik Darling. Earlier in his career, Darling had been in the folk trio the Tarriers, who recorded “Cindy, Oh Cindy,” a Top 10 hit in 1956. The record was released as being sung by Vince Martin & The Tarriers. As an aside, one of the other members in the group was future star actor, Alan Arkin.
The Tarriers soon disbanded, with Arkin returning to acting and Darling replacing the incomparable Pete Seeger in the Weavers from 1958 to 1962.
After listening to an old Gus Cannon folk blues song from 1929, Darling went out and recruited two of his friends: Bill Svanoe, a guitarist whose style was similar to Darling’s and Lynne Taylor, a jazz singer who had performed with Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman. The focus for this new trio was to record an updated and up-tempo version of Gus Cannon’s song.
Darling wanted their version to be recorded with two 12-string guitars, but there weren’t many to be found outside of pawn shops. Hence, he ordered two from the Gibson Guitar Company, and waited six months for them.
The record was a windfall for 79-year-old Cannon, who, in addition to earning publishing royalties from the re-release, was signed to a recording contract with Stax Records.
As fast as this group made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963, they were gone, being only able to chart with two subsequent minor releases in the same year.
According to Darling, “We had a certain problem, in that the group was put together strictly for [remaking the song] … there wasn’t anything else that really fit … we never did come up with anything that was remotely as good.”
The trio, with a few personnel changes, stayed around until 1967. But we’ll always remember Erik, Dave, and Lynne, better known as the Rooftop Singers, who created their own success in 1963 and were able to “Walk Right In.”
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.