Mini Bio (1)
The Marcels were an R&B group that formed in Pittsburgh, PA, in 1959. Unusual for the time was the fact that it was a racially integrated group, two of its members being white and three black. The group had its biggest hit with the 1961 "doo-wop" classic "Blue Moon", originally written for the 1934 film "Manhattan Melodrama", but with a decidedly up-tempo "doo-wop" style. It sold ore than one million copies, earned the group a gold record and became such a classic that it is featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". They had further hits--though not on the scale of "Blue Moon"--with "Heartaches" (#7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart) and the catchy novelty song "Friendly Loan".
In 1961 the group began a tour of the US South, but ran into serious problems because of the group's racial mix. Their white members, Richard Knauss and Gene Bricker, left and were replaced by two black singers, Allen Johnson (the brother of founding member Fred Johnson) and Walt Maddox. Original black singer Ron Mundy left not long afterwards. In 1962 lead singer Cornelius Harp and Allen Johnson departed the group and were replaced by Richard Johnson and William Herndon. In 1973 the original members reunited for several recordings. By the 1990s the group consisted of several original members and several newer members, but it broke up for good in 1995. Fred Johnson formed a "new" Marcels group with him in the lead, and the other four members formed another "new" Marcels group, with new bass singer Ted Smith. Walt Maddox brought a lawsuit against Fred Johnson's manager for trademark infringement in 1996. In 1999 Johnson, Harp, Mundy and Knauss reunited and appeared in a PBS special, "Doo-Wop 50".
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