The Crescendos were a short-lived American rock and roll group, originating from Nashville, Tennessee. Their song “Oh Julie” rose on both R&B and Hot 100 singles chart in 1957. They recorded it at Nasco Records, where they also released two more singles which unfortunately didn’t chart. They broke up in 1959, going down to history as a one-hit wonder.
Formation of the Crescendos
The Crescendos were a one-hit wonder pop/rock/R&B vocal group originating from Nashville, Tennessee. They were formed by five schoolmates in Nashville’s Cumberland High School: George Lanius, George’s cousin James (“Jimmy”), Ken Brigham, Tom Fortner, and Jim Hall. Some sources cite though, that James and George are brothers.
At first, the guys were interested in gospel music, but eventually shifted their interest more to pop music. They named themselves The Crescendos, while overlooking the fact that there was an R&B group on Atlantic Records with the same name.
A Nashville disc jockey named Noel Ball discovered The Crescendos while they were performing at their high school’s annual talent show. Then he and Kevin Moffitt wrote a song for them, entitled “Oh Julie.” The group first performed the song for the Saturday Showcase. The response was positively strong, so Ball booked time for the group at the Globe Recording Studio. The studio was located above Mom’s Tavern on Lower Broadway, just near the Ryman Auditorium, where it is the home of the Grand Ole Opry. It was an appropriate place to cut a record, just above the din of the country bands who performed there.
Recording and release of the group’s only hit “Oh, Julie”
Anyway, a 16-year-old girl named Janice Green was at the Globe Recording Studio at the time of The Crescendos’ recording. Green was also an aspiring singer, and also happened to be auditioning at the recording studio. She didn’t really become an official member of the group, but on a chance she was plucked by the studio bosses anyway to be the Crescendos’ backup vocalist. Green provided vocals in “Oh, Julie,” which were quite prominent.
“Oh Julie” became the group’s first single, released on Nasco Records in 1958. The doo-wop-ish teen record shot all the way to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #4 on the Billboard R&B singles chart that year. The record sold over a million records, and was given a gold disc.
The Crescendos made most of their only hit by doing rock and roll tours for much of 1958 and 1959 — without Janice Green who wasn’t really a member of the group. However, maintaining the success of “Oh, Julie” proved difficult. They relaesed a couple more singles for Nasco — “School Girl” (which again featured Green’s backing vocals) and “Rainy Sunday” — but none of them ever made a crack on the charts. The group, and even Green, were dropped by the label. The group eventually disbanded in 1959, each living separate lives with their own families and chosen profession. As for Green, she went on doing some more backing session work, most particularly for the Four Seasons.
A list of songs by the Crescendos
The list may be impartial:
- “Oh Julie”
- “My Little Girl”
- “School Girl’
- “Crazy Hop”
- “Rainy Sunday”
- “Young and in Love”
- “Let’s Take a Walk”
- “Strange Love”
- “Angel Face”
- “I’m So Ashamed”