by rick grant
In the mid-1950s, Brooklyn native, Bob Medina, best known to many as Bobby Doo-Wop, hung around with such luminary doo-wop a Capella groups as Pookie Hudson and the Spaniels. Pookie wrote “Goodnight Sweetheart” and was a prime mover of this harmony genre for its history up until present day.
Bob is the local Godfather of doo-wop. He lives and breathes everything doo-wop. His house, his cars, and his store are all museums and reminders of the genre’s colorful history. In fact, most people call him Mr. Bobby Doo-Wop.
Since a big doo-wop show is coming to the Moran Theater, I visited Bob at his home to get some background on this still popular musical genre. It turns out, Bob is a living historian of everything doo-wop. Many of the doo-wop stars are friends with Bob and he has, at one time or another, been involved with their music as executive producer or coordinator of their projects. We sat down for a chat in his home, which is a fascinating museum of doo-wop and early rock’n’roll treasures. There are rare framed posters on the walls of Allan Freed’s career of producing shows after his radio career. He has a rare Beatles poster and other valuable early rock’n’roll memorabilia.
Bob filled me in on how he got started as a doo-wop lover and eventually a doo-wop retailer. “I grew up with all these doo-wop guys and when I was younger, my brother and I sang with them. As I got older it was a hobby then when I came out here in 1990, I opened up my first store on Merrill Road in a place called Doo-Wops Forever. I’m still doing this today in a glassed in store at the Beach Blvd. Flea Market.”
Then and now, his business is a treasure trove of vintage vinyl, doo-wop recordings in vinyl and CDs, and vintage games and game systems. He also sells rare 1950s-1960s vinyl recording from early rock bands of the era.
These oldie but goldie groups include Little Anthony and the Imperials, which are touring with the original members for this show. And, Bob is friends with Earl Lewis and the Channels, Frankie Ervin of The Shields, Dubs and The Magic, and of course, Pookie Hudson and the Spaniels.
While he sold CDs of his favorites in the beginning, it became apparent that there was a real demand for vintage products.
“Over the years the CD sales went down. So I started to sell vintage vinyl of the early rock’n’roll era and box sets. Now I’m the only dealer of vintage video games and game consoles in this region. People I don’t even know send customers to me. It’s amazing, people say that they went to Wal-Mart and they sent them here. So that has become a major deal for me. I have a large collection of doo-wop memorabilia.” Bob handles such vintage video games as Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Super Nintendo, Sega, Sega Dreamcast, X-Box and Playstations 1 & 2 which still have throngs of gamer enthusiasts enjoying their classic games.
“Then I got into producing shows for doo-wop groups. I produced a CD called The 40th Anniversary of Pookie Hudson and the Spaniels. But I’ve been involved with the Doo-Wop scene all my life. I executive produced records and produced shows, as well as selling valuable doo-wop merchandise. I’m mentioned in a book titled Group Harmony Behind the Rhythm & Blues. The book mentioned how I helped Pookie Hudson and the Spaniels produce their 40th Anniversary CD. I’ve was the coordinator with Earl Lewis and the Channels by producing a CD for them titled Earl Lewis and The Channels Take 1 and Take 2.”
“Years ago my brother and I had our own group called The Dynamics when I lived in Brooklyn. I got involved with a friend of mine in South Florida producing shows down there. Many of the groups have retired in South Florida and will occasionally do shows. So the doo-wop scene is much bigger in that region. But, I’m always amazed by how many people who live in Jacksonville come from New York who are also into doo-wop. They show up at my store and we reminisce about the good old days. I also get many young people who are curious about doo-wop because of the modern a Capella harmony groups like Boyz to Men and others. They are very respectful and interested of the history of this genre.”
Bob’s excited about the upcoming show, The Solid Gold Doo-Wop Reunion, scheduled to be at the Moran Theater Saturday, March 21st at 8pm.
“It’s a stellar lineup of authentic doo-wop groups with as many original members as possible,” Bob says of the show, “Sadly, many of the early members have passed away. Little Anthony and the Imperials will be performing with its original members. The Duke of Earl – Gene Chandler, Terry Johnson’s Flamingos, The Marcels, and Kathy Young will also perform.” Bob will be holding a free concert ticket give-away raffle from his Beach Boulvard Flea Market (11041 Beach Blvd.)location, just stop in to register.You can buy tickets for The Solid Gold Doo-Wop Reunion at artistseries.fccj.org or by calling 904-632-3373 or 1-888-860-BWAY.
by rick grant