Del Vikings, The
Del Vikings, The
Del Vikings, The , one of the first integrated groups of the rock era to make it big on the charts, formed 1956, in Pittsburgh, Pa. Membership: Clarence Quick, voc. (b. Brooklyn, N.Y., d. c. 1985); Dave Lerchey, voc. (b. New Albany, Ind.); Norman Wright, voc. (b. Philadelphia, Oct. 21, 1937); Don Jackson, voc.; Corinthian “Kripp” Johnson, voc. (b. Cambridge, Mass., c. 1933; d. June 22, 1990).
Formed at the Pittsburgh Air Force Base among enlisted men who liked to sing, the Del Vikings (named after a basketball team from Clarence Quick’s area of Brooklyn) had a fairly fluid lineup during their early years as airmen were transferred from one base to another. The addition of baritone David Lerchey had less to do with integration and more to do with available talent; he was the best singer for the job at the time.
The group performed at local talent shows and came to the attention of local DJ Barry Kaye. He recorded a demo of them singing nine songs a cappella, including a Quick composition called “Come and Go with Me/7 When the majors passed on the group, a small local label picked them up and put them into the studio. There, they cut a version of “Come and Go with Me” with a band. When the single took off, the small label leased it to Dot Records. The Dot release came out in 1957 and went to #4 in the charts, selling gold. They followed that with another Quick composition, “Whispering Bells, “which climbed to #9.
With two hits, the group’s manager saw an opportunity to make lots of money and soon there was a “Del Vikings” and a “Dell Vikings/7 one signed to the local label, the other to major label Mercury. The Mercury Vikings were still in the Air Force and could not tour. The local label Vikings were discharged and could tour as they pleased. The Mercury Vikings released “Cool Shake” at the same time as “Whispering Bells” was climbing the charts. It reached #12.
A third group of original members using a Viking variation formed, appearing in the movie The Big Beat. Eventually, the Mercury version won the rights to the name. Within two years, Kripp Johnson was back with the Mercury Vikings, and the original lineup once again intact. Unfortunately, their day in the pop sun had passed. They continued to make quality music, but no one really cared. Variations of the group, however, continue to tour the oldies circuit.
Come Go with the Del-Vikings (1957); They Sing—They Swing (1957); A Swinging, Singing Record Session (1958); And the Sonnets (1963); The Dell Vikings and the Sonnets (1963); Come Go with Us (1960); Cool Shake Buffalo Bop (1988).