Doo(-)wop: trivial observation

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Jul 31 05:34:26 UTC 2006

On 7/31/06, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:
> As far as I know, there has been only one recording in the history of
> doo(-)wop in which the syllables "doo(-)wop" actually are heard: "The
> Bells," by Billy Ward & The Dominoes, from 1952.

The Odessa, TX-based Velvets are best remembered for their
violin-enriched 1961 Top 40 hit "Tonight (Could Be the Night)," during
which the group chanted "doo-wop" behind lead singer Virgil Johnson.
It was one of the first uses of the phrase in a song (the Turbans' use
of the phrase on the 1955 "When You Dance" predates it by a few

But "The Bells" would predate the Turbans and the Velvets.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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