Dante and the Evergreens – “Alley Oop”


Introduction to Dante and the Evergreens

Dante & the Evergreens were a late 1950s to early 1960s rock and pop group. The group, who formed at Santa Monica College in California in the late 1950s, was led by Donald “Dante” Drowty. They were known for their hit single “Alley-Oop” in 1960. The Evergreens’ version of “Alley-Oop” was released around the same time The Hollywood Argyles came out with their own rendition. Although the Argyle’s version topped the national chart at that time, the Evergreens’ recording was otherwise selling more on the east coast. The follow-up single “Time Machine” reached the Billbaoard chart as well in 1960. The group toured at several venues for many years after their single reached success but after that they were now having difficulty getting their subsequent singles climb on the charts. It came to worse when band member Frank Rosenthal became ill, and the group disbanded in 1964.

The formation of the group

Dante and the Evergreens were an American pop and rock band who made distinctions as the first all-white group to perform at venues predominantly attended by blacks. Notably, they were: the famous Apollo Theater in New York, Philadelphia’s Uptown and Washington D.C.’s The Howard.

The band initially consisted of Donald “Dante” Drowty, Frank Rosenthal and and Bill Young. They were formed in California’s Santa Monica College in 1959. The group was then noticed, and eventually befriended, by Dean Torrence (of the duo Jan & Dean) who brought them to the attention of Jan & Dean’s managers Herb Alpert and Lou Adler. The two managerss signed Dante and the Evergreens to a management deal. The group’s and style was further solidified when the group augmented their lineup with a guitarist, arranger and vocal coach by the name of Tony Moon, whom the group encountered while meeting with Adler and Alpert. Moon eventually joined the band.

Dante and the Evergreens’ only big hit with “Alley Oop”

In 1960 Dante and the Evergreens released their first single called “Alley-Oop,” written by Dallas Frazier and previously performed by the Hollywood Argyles and the Dyno-Sores (it would also be covered by the Beach Boys, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Darlene Love and George Thorogood and the Destroyers.).

Dante and the Evergreen’s version of “Alley Oop” was released on Madison label. It reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. Because of the single’s success, it enabled the group to tour across the country for a few years. The group had one more charting single, “Time Machine,” which became only a minor hit on the Hot 100 (at #73) in 1960. The band became one of the first white acts to play at the traditional black venues such as famous Apollo Theater in New York, Philadelphia’s Uptown and Washington D.C.’s The Howard.

The group’s disintegration

The group was increasingly frustrated because of its inability to duplicate their first single’s success. It became worse when their bandmate Rosenthal fell ill in 1964. Because of this, the group was unable to tour for several months, and eventually the band members went to their own separate ways. Rosenthal returned to study at college, while Young made unsuccessful attempts to make it big in show business as an actor or singer. Moon, meanwhile, went on to become highly respected arranger, writer and producer.

Drowty was the only one left behind, and he continued to carry on Dante & His Friends which featured members of the Rivingtons. He also wrote and produced music for Bert Bern’s Mellin Music Publishing, overseeing the recordings of The Isley Brothers, The McCoys, and Alpert. He also recorded for a time for Alpert’s A&M label.

Because of their only major hit with “Alley Oop,” Dante and the Evergreens are considered one-hit wonders.

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