Short career summary on Don and Juan
Don and Juan were an R&B/doo-wop vocal group consisting of Roland Trone and Claude Johnson, both of whom were from Brooklyn, New York. Contrary to “legendary” doo-wop tales, only Johnson started out in Genies, and never with Trone. Together they scored a hit in 1962, “What’s Your Name” which made to the Top 10 pop chart. Although the follow-up single “Magic Wand” reached at #91 on the Hot 100, they are still now considered as one-hit wonders. Trone died in 1983, aged 45, and Johnson passed away in 2002, aged 67.
Claude Johnson with the Genies
Don and Juan were a doo-wop/soul/R&B vocal duo hailing from Brooklyn, New York. They consisted of Roland Trone (“Don”) and Claude Johnson (“Juan” — some sources mention him as “Johnston”). Johnson had previosly sang with another doo-wop act the Genies, who had a #71 Billboard pop hit with “Who’s That Knockin'” (released on Shad label) in 1959.
Unable to follow it with another hit, the group was eventually dropped from the label. The group went on to record for other labels Hollywood Records and Warwick Records but they were also unable to chart.
Johnson meeting Roland Trone, and the formation of Don and Juan
Doo-wop legend has said that Trone was also with the Genies, but in reality, he wasn’t a member of the group at all. After the Genies’ failed stints, Johnson took a job as a house painter in an apartment building in Long Island, New York, while continuing to record sporadically. This was the time when Johnson met Trone, who was also a painter. Then they began to practice singing together, even when both of them were on the job. It wasn’t long before that they were discovered again this time by an agent by the name of Peter Paul. Paul negotiated with Big Top Records, who was riding on the success of its roster of artists which included Del Shannon. Big Top Records eventually signed Johnson and Trone and gave them their a new stage name Don and Juan.
Don and Juan’s would-be enduring doo-wop classic “What’s Your Name”
Don and Juan recorded “What’s Your Name,” written by Johnson. Released on Big Top Records, the single went all the way to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962. It was followed by another single “Magic Wand,” whcih peaked at #91 on the pop chart, also in 1962. However, “What’s Your Name” proved to be their only hit single, making Don and Juan to become “one-hit wonders.” Don and Juan continued to release records until 1967 when they disbanded and decided to retire from showbusiness.
Don and Juan’s reunion, and the members’ demise
Don and Juan reunited in the early 1980s and performed together only intermittently, most especially for the oldies circuit. Their only hit “What’s Your Name” remains popular in the oldies radio playlists.
Both members of the original Don and Juan are no longer alive. Trone died in 1982, aged 45. Johnson resurrected the Don and Juan act with a new member in Alexander Faison, who was his former mate in Genies. Johnson died in 2002, aged 67.
Although Don and Juan experienced fleeting fame, the popularity of “What’s Your Name” still remains, and it is still considered one of doo-wop most enduring classics.