Cornelius Harp Led The Marcels   4 comments

I was sorry to read that Cornelius ‘Nini’ Harp, the lead singer of the original Marcels, died recently in suburban Pittsburgh. Harp’s age wasn’t given in obituaries, but he would have been in his seventies when he died, apparently of natural causes. Although his name might not be a familiar one to some music fans, most will recall his group’s 1961 megahit, “Blue Moon.”mar2

Formed in the late 1950s, the Marcels (a name inspired by Harp’s hairstyle) came together at a Pittsburgh high school during an era that was flooded with doo-wop groups, but it was one of the very few that were multiracial. Harp, Ronald Mundy, and Fred Johnson were all black, while Gene Bricker and Richard Knauss were white. Even though later personnel changes would alter that, the original lineup was unusual for the times.

The group shot to fame in 1961 when it made several demos for Colpix Records in New York, including an old ballad — “Blue Moon” — which they did in a decidedly modern style. So the story goes, the record company was so impressed that they shot a copy over to a local big-name DJ, who also loved it and played it repeatedly. Whatever the case, it rocketed to the top of the charts and stayed there for quite a while.

The Marcels continued to specialize in modernizing old songs, recording a number of familiar tunes from the 1930s and 1940s, and soon had another hit with “Heartaches,” although it wasn’t a chart-topper. Another old song — “My Melancholy Baby — also did well but continued the downward trend, and before too much longer the original Marcels had more or less dissolved. In subsequent years, various combinations of new and old members of the group continued to come together and entertain fans from time to time.

marcdThe Marcels – “Heartaches”

Advertisements

Posted June 10, 2013 by BG in Boomers, Music, Nostalgia, Oldies, Retirement, Seniors, Video

Tagged with , , , ,

4 responses to “Cornelius Harp Led The Marcels

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Them was da daze… The DJ was hot and new in town and Tha Marcels intro went something like this: From WPTR’s triple towers of power, on soundstage number 3 here in our Golden Studios a talent tip on the Boom Boom Brannigan Show, The Marcels with their monster hit, Blue Moon…
    Brannigan died a few years ago but those early years influenced me to go into broadcasting when I got older and I did radio for about 23 years.
    The Marcels did a sweet version of ‘Summertime’ too.

  2. Sounds like you haven’t missed a beat. 😉
    And you’re right, they had a good-seller with “Summertime” too.

  3. He was 73

  4. Appreciate the added info.

NOTE: Comments are moderated before posting.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: