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The Del-Vikings


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Pittsburgh, United States

Seminal group the Del-Vikings were trailblazers in two senses: first, showing that a racially integrated group could achieve mass success, and, second, showing that line-up changes, label shenanigans, and other difficulties could snuff that success despite multiple pop hits. The original group had served together in the U.S. Air Force. In 1955, they were stationed in at the Air Force installation at the Pittsburgh airport in nearby Corapolis. Singing together in their spare time brought a desire to hear for themselves what they sounded like.

In October 1956, the group consisted of Norman Wright, lead tenor, Corinthian “Kripp” Johnson, first tenor, Don Jackson, second tenor, Clarence Quick, second bass; and Dave Larchey, baritone. During a rehearsal they recorded nine a capella songs in the basement of a local deejay and music entrepreneur, Barry Kaye. Listening to the tape they all agreed the sound was close, the style was coming around and all that was needed was a little more work.

Three months later the group was in a downtown Pittsburgh’s Sheraton Hotel in a makeshift studio set up by Fee-Bee records, a small local label owned by Joe Auerbach. They were backed by a pickup band of Air Force buddies. At the session they recorded “Baby, Let Me Know,” “Come Go With Me,” “True Love,” “When I Come Home,” “Don’t Be a Fool,” and “Watching the Moon.” Their first release, “True Love” b\w “Baby, Let Me Know”came in the fall of 1956. “True Love” was a typical rhythm and blues ballad.


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