The Danleers – “One Summer Night”

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Introduction to the Danleers

The Danleers were an American R&B/doo-wop vocal group in the 1950s-1960s. The band’s single “One Summer Night” was initially released on Amp-3 label, and then distributed by Mercury Records. After the single’s success, the band performed on tour alongside stars such as Bobby Darin, Connie Francis, Buddy Holly, Crickets, and The Coasters, among others. However, “One Summer Night” also proved to be their last foray into the charts, joining the ranks of other one-hit wonders.

The group’s lineup

One-hit wonders The Danleers were an American R&B/doo-wop vocal group. The group was formed in Brooklyn, New York. The group was originally a quintet, consisting of Jimmy Weston (lead vocals), Nat McCune (baritone), Roosevelt Mays (bass), Johnny Lee (tenor) and Will Ephraim (tenor). The average age of the members was about seventeen.

The Evolution of R&B Music

Rhythm and blues, popularly known as R&B, is a musical genre developed by African- Americans in the 1940s and continues to be refined today. R&B is derived from gospel, jazz, folk, and traditional blues music and was created in collaboration with rock and roll. The term “rhythm and blues” merged in the 1940s as a general marketing term for all African-American music, replacing “race music.” The term first appeared in commercial recordings in 1948, when RCA Victor Records began using “blues and rhythm” music as a descriptor for African-American secular singing.  The most commonly understood meaning of the term is the sophistication that had evolved since the 1930s when a small combo of Louis Jordan began making blues-based records with humorous lyrics and upbeat rhythms to represent urban music.

 Louis Jordan image

Many musicians immersed in blues and black American church music brought new songs from the South and eventually landed recording deals in Northern cities. Their music emphasized electric guitar, double bass, piano, and drums. The migration of African-Americans to urban areas in the Northeast and Midwest in the early 20th century allowed the diverse regional styles of African-American music to interact. The transition also created new markets for these styles of music. In its early days, the term “rhythm and blues” was used to refer to boogie-woogie, African-American swing, jazz, and blues. All of these styles influenced the development of what is now called rhythm and blues. 

Classic RCA black and white logo, used in 1960s image

The genre’s early stars were classified simultaneously into R&B and rock and roll. These included James Brown, Fats Domino, and Little Richard. In the 1950s, R&B shared almost all of its musical characteristics with rock and roll, but both genres were affected by racism. From the 1950s through the 60s, nearly all white artists playing blues-based pop music were classified as rock and roll. On the other hand, most black musicians who performed songs with the same influence were branded R&B artists. R&B musicians began experimenting with syncopated rhythms and more Afrocentric lyrical content in the 1970s. Artists fused sacred music, African rhythms, and extended instruments into R&B, developing funk and disco. 

Today, contemporary R&B music mixes rhythm and blues with pop, soul, and electronic musical elements. A distinctive record-making style and a smooth, lush style of vocal arrangements characterize the genre. Electronic influences are on the rise, and hip-hop and dance-inspired beats are typical, although the rawness and harshness inherent in hip-hop were still noticeable.

“One Summer Night’ – the group’s only hit single

They were named the Danleers after their manager and songwriter Danny Webb, whose addition only augmented the group’s sound. Webb also managed another band called The Webtones, also named after himself .Webb wrote the band’s only hit and charting single, “One Summer Night,” which was also the group’s debut single. But Weston later claimed that he was the one who wrote that song and that Webb only put his name on the record.

“One Summer Night” (b/w Wheelin’ and a-Dealin'”) was initially issued on Amp-3 label. When “One Summer Night” began to get more airplay, major label Mercury Records bought the Danleers’ contract from Amp-3. Naturally, Mercury also picked “One Summer Night” up for wider national distribution.

“One Summer Night”‘s were fast becoming great sellers that in the summer of 1958 the Danleers were scheduled to perform at the prestigious Apollo Theater. That June night, The Danleers shared the stage with other popular acts at the time such as Little Willie John, The Kalin Twins, and Etta James, among all others.

“One Summer Night” reached its peak on the Billboard Hot 100 at #7, and on the Billboard R&B singles chart at #4 in 1958. The success of the single made the Danleers one of the popular groups during that time. The single’s popularity also earned the group a spot on Dick Clark’s relatively new TV show The Dick Clark Show. They also appeared in Alan Freed’s Labor Day show in Brooklyn, which also pop, rock and roll and R&B acts such as Bill Haley and the Comets, The Everly Brothers and Chuck Berry. The band also performed on a tour alongside stars such as Bobby Darin, Connie Francis, Buddy Holly and the Crickets and The Coasters, among others

The Danleers after “One Summer Night”

The Danleers recorded the follow-up single to “One Summer Night,” “I Really Love You” (b/w “My Flaming Heart”). Although it received excellent reviews, this time it failed to chart. Same goes with the subsequent single “A Picture of You” and “I Can’t Sleep.” By mid-1959, the Danleers disbanded.

Danny Webb formed a new Danleers group by putting Jimmy Weston alongside three members of his other group the Webtones. This new lineup eventually got to record for Columbia’s Epic label, and then a smaller imprint Everest before they went back again to Mercury. Finally, they recorded for LeMans label. Unfortunately, no more hits were forthcoming for the band, although for more than two years the Danleers kept on going by touring a lot. By the mid-1960s, the Danleers had called it a day.

In the late 1980s the Danleers reunited and resumed touring, with much of the original members intact. Weston died in 1993.

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