Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Located in Sharon, on the western side Pennsylvania, is the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, which I have, despite many good intentions, yet to visit.

What I am wondering is how many of the groups honored there are also in Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There must be lots of duplication.

Are duos and trios included? How many singers make a “group”?
—Alex Richmond, Harrisburg, Pa.

DEAR ALEX: Knowing the Everly Brothers and Kingston Trio are among the Vocal Group inductees tells us at least two people are required for VGHF consideration.

As for the first question, there are now 31 groups enshrined at both the Vocal Group (Sharon) and Rock and Roll (Cleveland) Halls.

With induction years at both locations following each name (Rock and Roll/Vocal Group), here they are:

Hank Ballard and the Midnighters (1990/1999); Beach Boys (1988/1998); Beatles (1988/2004); Coasters (1987/1999); Crosby, Stills and Nash (1997/1998); Dells (2004/2004); Dion and the Belmonts (1989/2000); Drifters (1988/1998); Eagles (1998/2001); Earth Wind & Fire (2000/2003); Everly Brothers (1986/2004); Flamingos (2001/2000); 4 Seasons (1990/1999); Four Tops (1990/1999); Impressions (1991/2003); Ink Spots (1989/1999); Isley Brothers (1992/2003); Jackson Five (1997/1999); Gladys Knight and the Pips (1996/2001); Frankie Lymon & Teenagers (1993/2000); Mamas and the Papas (1998/2000); Martha & Vandellas (1995/2003); Moonglows (2000/1999); O'Jays (2005/2004); Platters (1990/1998); Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (1987/2001); Shirelles (1996/2002); Soul Stirrers (1989/2000); Supremes (1988/1998); Temptations (1989/1999); and Sonny Til and the Orioles (1995/1998).

Duplications and some slight differences exist with regard to crediting some of the groups with prominent lead singers. Here are two hair-splitting examples:

VGHF includes Dion and the Belmonts as a group. R&RHF names only Dion.

VGHF lists the Original Drifters (led by Clyde McPhatter) along with Ben E. King and the Drifters. R&RHF separately honors Clyde McPhatter, Ben E. King, and the Drifters.

The Vocal Group Hall of Fame (motto: “dedicated to honor the greatest vocal groups in the world”) is located at 98 E. State Street, Sharon, Pennsylvania.

For those unfamiliar with the area, Sharon is on the Pennsylvania-Ohio border about halfway between Erie and Pittsburgh. Call them for directions and more information: (724) 983-2025,

DEAR JERRY: Do you know “Buick 59”?

When I was a kid, my sisters had a 78 rpm single of it. They claim it to be a very popular song but I never heard it on the radio.

I'm guessing it was out around 1955 or so. I know this because long before 1959 I began wondering what a '59 Buick would look like.

I do not know the name of the group but I'd sure like to get a recording of it.
—Tom Goepfrich, Lakeland, Fla.

DEAR TOM: Though not a nationally charted hit, “Buick 59,” and especially its A-side, “The Letter” (Dootone 347), received considerable air play in a handful of radio markets, especially Los Angeles, the home of Dootone Records.

With the musical invitation, “would you like to go ridin' in my Buick 59,” you can be sure this mid-1954 release is not referring to a Buick not made until late '58.

They are also not referring to a model number, as Buick did not make a “59.”

One believable explanation is that “Buick 59” is a parody of sorts to “Rocket 69,” a 1952 release by Connie Allen with the Todd Rhodes Orchestra.

Musically and lyrically these two tunes are very similar. Connie's theme is “would you like to ride in my Rocket 69.”

Both are available on CD. I have “Buick 59” on “Doo-Wop Jive, Volume 1” (Juke Box Treasures JBT-6006) and “Rocket 69” on “Risque Rhythm” (Rhino R2-70570).

We now know of several Rock recordings that predate “Rocket 88,” but for many years this track always appeared on the short list of what might be the first Rock and Roll record.

IZ ZAT SO? Both “Rocket 69” and “Buick 59” have their roots in “Rocket 88.”

By Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cars, this No. 1 R&B hit in 1951 became a Grammy Hall of Fame winner in 1998.

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