Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/28/2019

We often hear about doo-wop music using a term that was coined in the 1940s. At least one song from 1958 actually started with the words, “Bum-bum, doo-wop, ” repeated over and over.

A group of students at Lamar High School in Austin, Texas, formed a vocal group in the mid-fifties. They named the group the Spades after the suit in a deck of cards. They recorded the single You Cheated and it was released initially on the small Domino record label. Domino could not afford to break the record nationally, so they leased it to Dot Records and it ended up on the Liberty label. When Liberty began national distribution there was resistance to the record because the group’s name was taken as a racial slur. Without telling the group, Liberty changed their pressings of the record to credit the Slades and that became the group’s permanent name. The a-side of the record was The Waddle, but disc jockeys turned it over and played You Cheated instead. The single climbed the charts, peaking at #42 on the Hot 100, enough success that the group even appeared on American Bandstand.

Sales of the Liberty release were slower than they had been on the Domino label, but Domino was unwilling to lease the record to another record company.

Another distributor saw a chance to succeed with a cover version of the song. They hired George Motola to produce a cover record. He had written and produced Goodnight My Love, which was recorded by Jesse Belvin and reached #7 on the R&B chart in 1956. George put together a group he named the Shields with Jesse as the lead singer and recorded the cover version. The new recording was much more successful, reaching #12 on the Hot 100. Instead of appearing on American Bandstand, the Shields got to lip-sync their hit on Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beechnut Show with a small set that included the wheel from a sailing ship for some reason.

That may have been the first time a black group covered a record by a white group and had a bigger hit!

Neither the Slades nor the Shields reached the Hot 100 again. Jesse did have two minor hits as a solo artist before his untimely death in a car crash in 1960.

The Slades reunited in their seventies and appeared on at least one PBS special (there’s a video of them practicing for the show).


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