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The Rivingtons

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The Rivingtons were a doo-wop group noted for being one of the most loud and raucous of the genre. Their first hit, “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” (1962), like many such songs, began with the bass chanting nonsense syllables (in this case the title), followed by the tenor singing over repetitions of it. “Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow”, an even more baroque rewrite of the theme, failed to sell, but they returned to the charts the following year with the similar “The Bird’s The Word”.

Previously the Rivingtons had been known as The Sharps and had already tasted chart action via Thurston Harris’ “Little Bitty Pretty One” in 1957, after which they appeared on several Duane Eddy recordings when any extraneous sounds of rebel yells were required.

After the two hit singles, the Rivingtons struggled till the mid 60s to find another hit but after the Columbia single “A Rose Growing In The Ruins” flopped they called it a day. However, the two hits entered a life of their own, courtesy of a Minnesota group called The Trashmen, who recorded a song made up from the nonsense syllables, calling it Surfin’ Bird. The band cut the disc over a record shop and passed it off as their own work because it was a medley of the choruses without the verses. However the Rivingtons’ management reported it to their lawyers and the group were ordered to add the surnames of the Rivingtons to the credits, having the effect of causing the first pressings without the Rivingtons credit to become collectors items.

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