A new documentary, Streetlight Harmonies (2017), explores the early years of Doo-Wop music. The film features early performers like the Drifters’ Charlie Thomas, explaining that the early street singers of the 1950s began singing for the friendship with other singers and to attract girls.
Also, the film traces how the music that started out on the street corners developed into the girl groups of the 1960s and later influenced other singers including modern boy bands. Brent Wilson directed Streetlight Harmonies. Check out this trailer for Streetlight Harmonies.
Streetlight Harmonies premieres November 14, 2017 at the Doc NYC festival.
On the evening of May 21, 1964, The Drifters went into the studio for a scheduled recording session. But the session did not go as the group had originally planned, because the group’s members found out that day that singer Rudy Lewis had died a day earlier.
That Thursday night at the studio, the members of the group were in tears but decided to go through with the recording session. During the session, the band recorded “Under the Boardwalk,” with singer Johnny Moore taking the lead on the track that was intended for Lewis.
The song evokes the “happy sounds of the carousel” and lovers hanging out by the beach. But there is a bittersweet tone to the song, so if you listen close enough, you my feel you can hear a little of the sadness that the men were feeling when they recorded the song.
Different websites report different causes of death for Lewis, saying there is some confusion about whether he died from either a drug overdose or from asphyxiation in his sleep from overeating. But one site says the cause of death was a heart attack. Lewis — whose voice is featured on such Drifters’ classics as “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “On Broadway,” and “Up on the Roof” — was only 27 years old.
And that is the story behind the song “Under the Boardwalk,” written by Kenny Young and Arthur Resnick. Rolling Stone magazine lists the song as the eighteenth greatest summer song of all time.
What is your favorite song by The Drifers? Leave your two cents in the comments.