1961 The Dreamlovers – When We Get Married
In 1956, a quintet of five R&B singers got together in Philidelphia and began recording demos as The Romancers. While they did not have any success with their demos, they got very lucky in the late fifties.
In 1952, another group R&B group called the Royals formed and signed with Federal Records in Cincinnati. Hank Ballard joined the group and became their new lead singer in 1953. The group recorded Get It, a song Hank had co-written, which was somewhat risque. They changed their name to The Midnighters to avoid confusion with another group using the name The 5 Royales and Hank rewrote Get It as Work With Me, Annie. That song was banned by the FCC because of its lyrics, but that may have helped the single top the R&B chart for a few weeks in 1954. A few more banned singles from the group followed.
By 1959, the group had become Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. Their single Teardrops On Your Letter reached #4 on the R&B chart and #87 on the Hot 100 that year. More importantly, the b-side of the single (which was pretty much ignored at the time) was another song Hank had written using the melody of What’cha Gonna Do by Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters: The Twist. The group had a few more singles, including the top ten Finger Poppin’ Time, before a re-release of their version of The Twist started marching up to #4 on the R&B chart.
Disk jockey Buddy Deane hosted a dance show in Baltimore, and that record got a great reception there, so Buddy introduced Dick Clark to the song. Dick was unable to book Hank’s group for his shows, so he got a local record label to record the song using Chubby Checker, who had recently reached #38 on the Hot 100 with a song called The Class. The Romancers sang backup vocals on the record, possibly using the name The Midnighters. Their group had no members in common with Hank’s group, and references to that name may well be a mistake.
Thanks in large measure to the promotion on Dick’s shows, The Twist reached the top of the Hot 100 in 1960 while the version by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters peaked at #28.
Perhaps as a result of the success of The Twist, The Romancers signed with V-Tone Records and began recording their own singles in 1960 as the Dreamlovers. When that didn’t pan out, the group signed with Heritage Records. Member Don Hogan wrote their second single for Heritage, When We Get Married. The doo-wop recording reached #10 on the Hot 100 in 1961 but did not do well enough to make it into the top 100 records for the year. The group continued recording through the sixties, but their only other entry to the chart peaked at #62 after only five weeks.
Hank Ballard and the Midnighters disbanded in 1965 without ever reaching the top twenty again.
Chubby Checker recorded lots more dance tunes and still twists from time to time.
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