Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: A know-it-all friend hit me with a trivia question, one that has me stumped.

Even with the Internet at my disposal, every search seems a dead end.

My challenge is to name a famous singing group with three Top 15 hits, all on the charts the same year.

Yet each hit is credited differently and features a different lead singer.

I hate to cheat but I've put too much time into this to fail, so please help me.
—Arthur Dennis, Madison, Wisc.

DEAR ARTHUR: Asking me should not be against the rules. Legitimate research can be done many ways, our service being just one of those sources.

The story and all the uncanny events behind your question could fill a book. Most essential storytelling elements are there: youthful foolhardiness, corporate greed, back-stabbers, shady deals, identity switches, and both good and bad luck.

Consider this the greatly-condensed version.

The answer is the Dell Vikings, and the three hits are “Come Go with Me;” “Whispering Bells;” and “Cool Shake.” Their first hit, “Come Go with Me” (Dot 15538) came out in January 1957.

Name credit on this Rock & Roll, Doo-Wop classic is “The Dell Vikings,” and the lead singer is Norman Wright.

The other founding members are Corinthian “Kripp” Johnson; Clarence Quick; Donald “Gus” Backus; and David Lerchey. “Come Go with Me” soon reached the Top 5 on all of the Pop and R&B charts.

An immediate follow-up (April 1957), “What Made Maggie Run,” (Dot 15571) turned out to be an unwise choice. Though a flop, it is like the others regarding artist credit and an endless shifting of lead singers.

“What Made Maggie Run” is by “The Delvikings with Lead Vocalist Joey Biscoe” (a.k.a. Joey Briscoe).

The group now splintered, with all of the original members, except Kripp Johnson, signing with Mercury Records.

Then came “Whispering Bells” (Dot 15592), issued in May and reaching the Top 10 in July.

For this record, the credit is “The Dell-Vikings Featuring Krips Johnson” — with Johnson's nickname misspelled.

At almost exactly the same time as Dot released “Whispering Bells,” Mercury rush-released “Cool Shake” (Mercury 71132). “Cool Shake” — a dance, not a frosty drink — is credited to “The Del Vikings Featuring Gus Backus.”

There is, however, a triple crossover connection involving Clarence Quick, the group's bass voice.

Quick quickly wrote “Come Go with Me” and “Whispering Bells,” then went to Mercury and sings on “Cool Shake.”

Neither the Mercury follow-up — a “Come Go with Me” spin-off titled “Come Along with Me” (Mercury 71180) — nor any subsequent releases became hits.

While the focus here is their three hits, it should be noted there are many other Dell Vikings releases and credit variations that did not chart.

These include recordings for Fee Bee; Luniverse; Alpine; ABC-Paramount; Gateway; Scepter, and others.

DEAR JERRY: Cliff Richard has been a favorite of mine since the mid-'60s when I first saw him in the film “Summer Holiday.”

Though not widely known in the U.S., Cliff has been a phenomenally successful star in Europe.

Would you please list his U.S. hits in the order of their success?
—Anita R., Carmi, Ill.

DEAR ANITA: Here are all eight of Sir Cliff Richard's U.S. Top 40 singles (1959-1982), with the year of issue: 1. “Devil Woman” (1976); 2. “We Don't Talk Anymore” (1979); 3. “Dreaming” (1980); 4. “Suddenly” (1980) (With Olivia Newton-John); 5. “A Little in Love” (1980); 6. “It's All in the Game” (1963); 7. “Living Doll” (1959); 8. “Daddy's Home” (1982).

You are correct about Cliff's popularity overseas, especially in the UK. There his amazing total of Top 40 hits (1958-2004) numbers 123!

IZ ZAT SO? One little-known aspect of the quirky Dell Vikings story is that for seven consecutive weeks (July 29 - September 9, 1957) all three of their separate singles held Top 100 positions. In this regard, they stood alone.

A few stars (Elvis, Pat Boone, Fats Domino, etc.) logged four chart songs at once that summer, but they all involve two double-sided hit records.

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