The Rivingtons Biography

Formed in the early 60s in Los Angeles, California, USA, the Rivingtons placed two songs in the US pop charts, both of which rank among the best top rock ‘n’ roll novelty records of all time: ‘Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow’ and ‘The Bird’s The Word’. The group consisted of lead vocalist Carl White (d. 7 January 1980), Al Frazier, Sonny Harris and Rocky Wilson Jnr all of whom had previously worked as backing vocalists on recordings by Paul Anka, Duane Eddy and Thurston Harris, as the Sharps. The phrase ‘Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow’ reportedly came to Wilson while in jail, following a fight a fellow inmate supposedly whispered it in his ear. Upon his release the group worked the phrase into a song and they offered it to various record labels. Liberty Records accepted and recorded it in the summer of 1962, resulting in a number 48 single later it was covered by the Beach Boys. ‘The Bird Is The Word’, the 1963 follow-up, was less successful, but both songs were worked into a new hit, ‘Surfin’ Bird’, by the Minneapolis group the Trashmen in 1964, which reached US number 4 and was later covered by such artists as Pee Wee Herman and the Ramones. A re-formed version of the Rivingtons, featuring all the original members except for White who died in 1980, performed in the Los Angeles area in the late 80s.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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