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Book Review: Doo Wop by “Cousin Brucie” Morrow

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Everybody who lived through the 1950s and 1960s knows Doo Wop. Doo Wop: The Music, The Times, The Era, by “Cousin Brucie” Morrow with Rich Maloof is for those who didn’t have the privilege of listening to this music as it was being made, as well as for those who lived it, who lived through it, and danced to it. Or maybe you didn’t dance to it; maybe you and your favorite guy or girl watched the submarine races while listening to it. Cousin Brucie is one of the broadcasting icons from that era. Everybody who listened to radio knew Cousin Brucie, and everybody listened to radio.

The cover photo is an instantly recognizable tailfin of a 1959 Cadillac. Many liked those fins, but just as many thought them ugly, gaudy, tacky, and a hundred other not too nice adjectives. The book, however, is a whole ‘nother story. If you’re looking for something beautiful, you can stop looking. If you’re looking for anything other than an in-depth examination of the whole doo wop trend, such as any of the particular groups who were famous in that era, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a book that relates the story of doo wop from its murky beginnings with the Andrews Sisters, the Mills Brothers, and several other groups of the 1940s and early 1950s, on up through the most recognizable groups such as the Coasters and the Drifters, look no more, ‘cuz you’ve found it.

On the upper end of the timescale, it also includes several groups that most people would not lump into the doo wop category, such as the Beach Boys and the Temptations. But Morrow skillfully weaves them into the mix, convincing the reader that the Andrews Sisters and Beach Boys absolutely do belong in this book. He’ll make you a believer.

Had Morrow attempted to give more than an overview of the groups involved, this weighty tome would have had to become a series of volumes, but he still does an excellent job of giving us the background, the first trendsetters, the proponents and the naysayers. He gives a brief snapshot of Alan Freed, the first of the DJs who had the nerve to buck the system and play black music on a white station, and helping many worthy groups to make the name that they deserved, rather than the one they were relegated to. He tells us about groups that many of us had forgotten and even some we never knew about. But he never lets us down throughout the book.

After I read the book – actually, while I was still reading the book – I went online and sought out and bought the three doo wop DVDs mentioned, which will get me started, at least, in my trip down Memory Lane. Cousin Brucie influenced my listening and buying habits 50 years ago when I grew up through doo wop, and he still has the power to do it now, by kick starting my memory banks.

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About Lou Novacheck

  • Layla Baker

    This book was awesome! Have you heard any news about the upcoming one in October? “Rock and Roll…and the beat goes on.” by Cousin Brucie. Features over 300 photos, record labels, album covers and quotes of amazing artists from The Beach Boys, to Eric Clapton…the Allman Brothers and Bob Dylan. It’s all about the music and culture. The time-changing era of the 1960s.