Sounds from the street corner
A legend of doo-wop recalls what makes the music so special as he and his group, along with others, bring rock and soul to Spring Hill.
By LOGAN NEILL
Published October 6, 2006
SPRING HILL - Back in Steve Horn's day, a street corner in the heart of the Bronx was all you needed to form a band.
No instruments. No microphones. You didn't need them to sing doo-wop. The magic began the moment your voice started blending with the other guys. You'd look around to find yourself surrounded by girls.
"It was an unbelievable time," Horn recalled by phone from his home in Boca Raton. "You had to be there to know just how cool it all was."
Though it has been nearly 40 years since Horn sang with the Five Sharks, he still knows all of their songs - Canadian Sunset, Lost Love, Possibility, So Much in Love and the classic hit Stormy Weather.
Chances are pretty good that he and the rest of the Legends of Doo Wop will include a few of those tunes when they perform at the "Legends of Rock and Roll" concert Saturday night in Spring Hill.
The show, which sold out early this week, will reunite Horn's group with many of the artists that he shared the stage with a generation ago, including the Soul Survivors, Joey Dee and Frankie Ford.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Horn said. "They're all really great guys. It's going to be a fun show."
Horn sings bass with the Legends of Doo Wop, an all-star group whose members include Jimmy Gallagher (the Passions), Frank Mancuso (the Imaginations) and Spring Hill singer Tommy Mara (the Crests). Though much of their repertoire is a half-century old, Horn says the music sounds as fresh as ever.
"I never get tired of singing the songs," Horn said. "It's music that is timeless. I don't think you can say that for a lot of the music that's coming out now. The songs we sing will still be around 50 years from now."
In 1961, Horn was a high school kid from the Bronx who loved nothing better than to sing. Like most of the kids he knew, he never had the money to buy an instrument.
Not that it mattered in doo-wop, which in its purest form was sung a cappella.
Most afternoons would find him teamed up with friends Kenny Bank, Mark Dinep, Henry Salas and Eddie Black in school corridors or bathrooms or in a corner of the gym working on blending harmonies.
The songs they sang were mostly reworked standards or versions of rhythm-and-blues songs they had heard on the radio. In 1963, the group recorded the single Stormy Weather, which became a national hit.
By 1964, however, the British invasion of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones all but killed doo-wop music. The Five Sharks disbanded in 1968.
But the end of the doo-wop era didn't exactly spell the end of doo-wop. Rather, Horn only had to wait for it to come back again. These days he stays busy selling CD collections of doo-wop music over the Internet (www.thelegendsofdoowop.com) and doing concert performances.
Though this weekend's concert is sold out, Horn expects to be back in February for another show.
"We'll be looking for a larger place, I suppose," he said. "You really hate leaving fans disappointed."
Logan Neill can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1435.