2002 non fiction reference book by Mitch Rosalsky.< read all 1 reviews
For virtually my entire adult life I have been a student of American popular music. I bought my first 45 rpm record way back in 1965 and have been collecting ever since. I still play them to this day. What I discovered early on was that the music of a particular era will tell you an awful lot about the people and the culture of that period. I like to listen to a wide variety of genres including pop, rock and roll, country, folk, soul, big band, doo-wop and rhythm and blues. For some reason I was never all that fond of jazz. Over the years I have taken the time to explore various forms of American popular music going all the way back to the 1890's. Very interesting! One of my very favorite genres of music has to be doo-wop (I love group harmony) and I have also had a lifelong interest in rhythm & blues. Both are purely American forms of music that are popular all over the world but particularly in Europe. In any event, aside from collecting the music I have also assembled a small library of reference books on the subject. Perhaps the most thoroughly researched of all of these books is Mitch Rosalsky's "Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blues and Doo-Wop Vocal Groups". This is really not a book for general audiences. Rather, "Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blue and Doo Wop Vocal Groups" has emerged as the "authority" on this genre of music. This is a book that serious collectors and students of American popular music will find themselves referring to again and again.
I cannot imagine how much time author Mitch Rosalsky spent cobbling together this book. As Rosalsky states in his Introduction: "This book's main purpose is to provide r&b vocal group collectors, collectors of music reference material, disc jockeys, and other music enthusiasts with information concerning the performers in R&B vocal groups, including others groups with which they sang. Second, this book presents in one volume, the groups place of origin, brief biography, and in most cases their discography (when available)." Over 800 groups are featured in the book. Some like The Ravens, Sonny Til and the Orioles and The Marcels experienced a degree of commercial success and were well-known all across America. But the vast majority of the groups included in this book labored in relative obscurity and were popular only in the city from which they hailed or in some cases in a particular region of the country. They recorded for tiny local labels with very limited distribution. The music business was drastically different in those days. There were several hotbeds for this type of music in the late 1940's and early 1950's including of course New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. This was the music that one day would morph into rock and roll. This is precisely why the book that Mitch Rosalsky has so painstakingly put together for us is so important. This information had simply never been chronicled in one volume before. In addition, there is a ton of information in "Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blue and Doo Wop Vocal Groups" that you will simply not find anywhere else.
When "Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blue and Doo Wop Vocal Groups" was first published back in 2002 I paid $90.00 for a hardcover edition. Fortunately you can now purchase a paperback edition for about half that amount. I quickly discovered that this was a book that had a lot more information than even I needed. Still, I remain a huge fan of doo wop and R&B to this day and I still refer to this book from time to time. Make no mistake about it. This is a volume that positively deserves a spot on the shelves of university libraries all over the country. Mitch Rosalsky's "labor of love" remains an extremely important contribution to the history of American popular music. Check it out! Highly recommended!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mitch Rosalsky was a long-time member of the United in Group Harmony Association (UGHA) until 1993. In his tenure with UGHA, he has served on the organization's board of directors. A devoted collector of R&B music since 1961, he has had many articles published related to this field.