Danny and the Juniors – “At the Hop”

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Short introduction to Danny and the Juniors

Danny & the Juniors were an American group best known for their 1957 hit single “At The Hop.” The group were formed in 1955 when they were still in their teens. Their first charting single was “At The Hop” which was their biggest hit, topping both pop and R&B charts in 1957. They scored a Top 20 hit with “Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay” and Top 40 hits “Dottie” and “Twistin’ USA.” In 1960 the group were signed to Dick Clark’s Swan Records, where they released singles that became minor hits. In the 1970s they re-issued “At The Hop” (not once, but twice) which turned out to be a respectable hit on the UK chart. Leader Danny Rapp died in Arizona in 1983, of suicide. The remaining members soldiered on, this time with new member Joe Terry, and Maffei taking over the lead vocals. Up to this day the Juniors are still performing occasionally.

From the Juvenairs to the Juniors

Danny and the Juniors were a doo-wop four-piece vocal group hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Formed in 1955, they were led by lead tenor Danny Rapp (1941-1983) and consisted of other members — tenor Dave White (born in 1939), second tenor Frank Maffei and baritone/bass Joe Terranova. They all met when they were attending the same high school and became buddies. They decided to form a group together and initially called themselves the Juvenairs.

The group’s leader Rapp also choreographed their own dance steps and also conceived their own routines for their sets. The quartet eventually performed at various high school gigs and shows at other local venues. The group later recruited saxophonist Lennie Baker.

The Juvenairs met songwriter and vocal coach Artie Singer, through entrepreneur John Madara (or Medora) who initially met the group. Singer later auditioned the band, and signed them to his own label Singular. He was impressed by a song that White had written. It was entitled “Do the Bop.” However, since bop was already by then outdated, Singer himself went to change the name of the the song into “At the Hop.” Singer also replaced the band’s name from the Juvenairs to the Juniors.

“At the Hop” the Juniors’ #1 hit single

Through Singer’s assiduous efforts (and sheer luck), Danny and the Juniors got to open for Dick Clark’sAmerican Bandstand after Little Anthony and the Imperials canceled their appearance on the show. This was where Danny and the Juniors performed “At the Hop.”

“At the Hop” initially became a regional success. Singular by then became broke, so he leased the single to ABC Paramount for a five-grand. ABC Paramount released the single, which made its first Billboard chart appearance in December 1957. By early 1958, “At the Hop” went to the top of both pop and R&B charts. It also went to #3 in the United Kingdom.

This youthful group followed this up with “Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay,” another song written by White. It cracked at the Top 20 on both pop and R&B singles charts in 1958. Danny and the Juniors scored another Top 40 hit with “Dottie” (#39 pop) in 1958.

The Juniors’ move to Swan Records, and eventual break-up

In 1960 Danny and the Juniors moved to Clark’s Swan Records, where they scored their final Top 40 hit “Twistin’ USA.” Following singles failed to repeat the group’s earlier successes.

David White eventually quit the group to become a full-time (and successful) songwriter and record producer.

Reformation and split again; Danny Rapp’s death, and the group’s later career

The 1950s nostalgia movement arrived in the 1970s and many of the oldies acts capitalized on this nostalgic wave. The Juniors were not the one to be left behind, as they reunited to resume recording and touring. In 1976, “At the Hop” returned to the UK Top 40 at #39. The original Juniors split for good in 1978, with Terranova and Maffei formed their own group but still retained the Juniors name. Rapp also later launched his own act, using the same group name as well.

Danny Rapp was found dead inside his hotel room in Quartzsite, Arizona in April 1983. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his head; apparently Rapp had committed suicide.

Despite Rapp’s death, the group still called themselves Danny and the Juniors, perhaps to preserve his legacy. The Juniors are still pretty much active in the music industry, with the present lineup including the remaining founding members plus Maffei’s brother Bobby. Terrnova is now the group’s lead vocalist. The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003.

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