Doo-wop was exactly what 1950s teenagers craved, and Canada's Crew Cuts delivered

'What doo wop artists were to the ‘50s the Beatles were to the ‘60s'

'What doo wop artists were to the ‘50s the Beatles were to the ‘60s'

Doo-wop bridged the gap between big band swing and rock and roll. It also produced Canada's first international gold recording artists, The Crew Cuts. 8:54

With an overwhelming popularity among the younger generation, doo-wop became the music of choice for teenagers in the '50s. A quartet of kids from Toronto's St. Michaels' Choir School would embrace the genre and, in doing so, become the first Canadian artists to go gold in the United States.

Doo-wop was popular in between the big bands of the '40s and the rock and roll that would take over later in the '50s and '60s. As radio broadcaster and executive, Duff Roman explains, "Doo-wop music was created in the black neighbourhoods. Simpler arrangements. The rhythm was on the backbeat [and] often could be almost totally a capella. All that stuff had an authentic essence." 

The Crew Cuts were so big on the radio that no one knew they were Canadian.- Duff Roman, music industry executive

And it took off with an entire generation. In 1954, a chart-topping hit called "Sh-Boom" rose to the tops of the charts. Written and performed by an American group called the Chords, the record's popularity led the record company to record a cover by a quartet of Canadians.   

The Crew Cuts' recording skyrocketed them to success not just in Canada, but around the world. To put their international fame into context, Roman explains that "The Crew Cuts were so big on the radio that no one knew they were Canadian."

But as the popularity of doo-wop increased, the movement became more mainstream, and eventually turned into the chosen music of those teens' parents. The kids were moving on to rock and roll and a new British band by the name of The Beatles had caught their attention. But despite its differences, Roman explains that the authenticity of early '50s doo-wop was picked up by the British foursome in the '60s. "What doo-wop artists were to the '50s the Beatles were to the '60s. The Beatles brought in the same kind of freshness."

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