45 Friday: Vibraharps – Nosey Neighbors


By Bob “The Record Guy” Paxon

Following last week’s post of Cosy With Rosy we continue the Vibraharps story with their second release. It’s hard to pin down the exact date for Cosy With Rosy because little is know about the independent Beech label – it could be from anywhere between 1956 and 1958 – but Atco Records is well-documented so we can establish this as solidly in 1959.

The group here is Danny Cannon on lead vocal and Charles Hargro on bass vocal, with Donald Simmons and Douglas Gibson in the background. Donnie Elbert was completely gone by this time – the date of his departure has been stated pretty authoritatively as 1957. He began his solo career that year at Deluxe with three 1957 releases, followed by FIVE 1958 Deluxe singles!

Donnie was nothing if not prolific – and a wanderer. After Deluxe he moved on to Red Top, Vee-Jay, Jot, Jalynne, P&L, Parkway, Cub, UpState (a local Buffalo label), Checker and Gateway – recording NINETEEN more singles – before ending up in early 1968 on Atco Records with Atco #6550. At that time ex-Vibraharp Danny Cannon had already landed on Atco (as “Lenny O’Henry” – Atco #6525). Looking at today’s record we realize this connection probably started with the parent group’s 1959 Atco deal.

Not only was Donnie not involved with this single, neither were local songwriters Bobby Fonville & Ralph Hernandez. Both sides are credited merely to ‘Hardy’ and there’s no producer or arranger listed. My guess is Hardy is the writer AND producer, maybe a pseudonym for one of the prolific music biz people associated with Atco and Atlantic. Pseudonyms were often used in these situations to spread the royalties around either as a form of payola or to fool the tax man!

1959 also saw the release of a single credited to bass vocalist Charles Hargro which is alleged to include the whole group backing him. This single (on Buffalo’s DAB Records) shows the group still associated with Fonville & Hernandez. A concurrent 1959 release by the Derbys has two Donnie Elbert-written songs and the 1961 Derbys single  has Fonville & Hernandez credits. Though we’re not sure the Derbys are partly or completely the Vibraharps, it seems likely.

Anyway, It Must Be Magic / Nosey Neighbours (Atco #6134) didn’t trouble the compilers of the hit record charts. It’s just as likely to find on white label promo as stock issue which means- they didn’t sell, folks. Maybe they felt the Vibraharps name had become ‘poison’ to the industry, but they never recorded under it again. Or maybe they became aware of the two competing Vibraharps (or Vibra-Harps), an R&B group on Fury and a White acapella group.

Although they didn’t achieve chart success together the group are highly-regarded by doo wop/ vocal group fans, and launched two careers. Next week we’ll look at the aftermath of the Vibraharps’ break up. For today, we get the uptempo B-side of this fine single. The cool ahead-of-their time sound effects ushers in a Coasters-style story in the lyrics against a hard rocking Little Richard rhythm riff. A fun TGIF track!

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