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----------------------------------------- Vocal Hall Inducts Drifters, Belmonts And More

In a ceremony Friday (Oct. 20) honoring classic harmony and doo-wop vocalists, more than 25 groups were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and Museum in Sharon, Pa. Many singers and their descendants were on hand to receive a Harmony Award, or "Harmmy," including Three Dog Night, the Mamas and the Papas, Ben E. King and the Drifters, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Dion and the Belmonts, the Kingston Trio, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, and the Bangles.

Ben E. King, who along with Charlie Thomas accepted the award for the Drifters, was amazed at the myriad number of gospel groups both inducted and on display at the Vocal Hall. "When I look at the wall of honorees at this museum, it takes me back to my childhood," he said. "As the Five Crowns, we were a great local group that was doing well, and we had a lot of hopes. But when we were selected to become the new set of Drifters, all those hopes went into a whole other level of professionalism. A name that had strength. And we had obligations of living up to that name, and we did relatively well for it, I think. I am and will always be proud to be a member of the Drifters, but I didn't think for a second that I'd ever be standing here, and getting awards for things we had done at the very beginning at our careers."

Chuck Negron, who with Danny Hutton and Cory Wells formed Three Dog Night, was also deeply moved by his induction. "That's exactly what we were, a vocal group, and I was very honored that I got to come here," Negron said. "When I was a young kid, I used to go to the Apollo Theatre, I used to go to Alan Freed's show [and watch] all these guys. And when Three Dog Night came to be, it was just like the Drifters, except we took Clyde McPhatter and Ben E. King and we put them all together, with Danny, Cory and me -- we put them all together at one time."

Among the classic moments at the Vocal Hall induction ceremony were:

- Duke Fakir accepting the "Harmmy" for the Four Tops, then hugging and embracing co-host and longtime friend Mary Wilson of the Supremes.

- Carole Lombard carrying a cell phone to the podium so that one of her fellow Skylarks, too ill to attend, could experience the ceremony with her.

- Carlo Mastrangelo, who reunited with Fred Milano and Angelo D'Aleo to accept the Belmonts' "Harmmy," echoing the sentiments of performers and their families that afternoon in his opening statement: "Thank you for not forgetting us."

Other groups who were enshrined into the Vocal Hall were the Bangles, the Kingston Trio (both groups were on tour, but sent videotaped acknowledgments), the Four Seasons, and the Jackson Five (their father Joe Jackson accepted in his sons' honor). Harold Jackson, who arranged Ink Spots recordings for over 50 years, joined the current Ink Spots lineup on stage to receive that quartet's award.

That same evening, many inductees participated in a 13-act, five-hour free concert outside the Vocal Hall building. The crowd of over 1,500 people cheered as the Ink Spots, the Modernaires, and the Marcels performed their greatest hits. The Belmonts reunited for the first time in over 30 years to sing their hits "Tell Me Why" and "Come On Little Angel." Negron performed crowd-pleasing classics from Three Dog Night, and ex-Supreme Wilson brought fans on stage to sing "Back In My Arms Again" with her.

The Vocal Group Hall of Fame and Museum is dedicated to popular American vocal groups and harmony combos from the 1920s to the present. Previous inductees include the Beach Boys, the Ames Brothers, Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters, the Golden Gate Quartet, the Manhattan Transfer, the Platters, and the Supremes.


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