By Bob “The Record Guy” Paxon
With the lack of success of their 1959 records the Vibraharps drifted apart. Donnie Elbert had previously struck out on his own and was finding chart success. Founding Vibraharps member Daniel “Danny” Cannon took his shot and lucked out by hooking up with Bob Crewe right from the start. I previously posted a “Friday 45” with a record from his first solo run, at ABC Paramount. I won’t repeat his whole story here but I’ll give the highlights.
As soon as Danny began his solo career he adopted new stage-name of “Lenny O’Henry” (sometimes “Lenny O. Henry’), calling his backing group The Short Stories. His first two releases were on ABC Paramount in 1961. In 1963 he moved on to Smash Records.
By late 1963 he was on Atco – familiar ground from the previous Vibraharps 45 on Atco. Like his previous records these sides were produced by Bob Crewe and were written by some combination of Crewe, his associates, and Cannon. Crewe at this time was a huge industry power with the success of the Four Seasons. And he pulled out all the stops to repeat that success for Cannon, bringing in the Four Seasons to sing backup on 1963’s Across The Street.
Like the previous Lenny O’Henry records this one had a “Popcorn” sound, as did many of the Four Seasons records. It’s a hard sound to define and it wasn’t called that at the time. The name came later, from the European fans who started a whole dance scene around records like this. Basically a mid-tempo beat with Latin accents, it differs from similar Northern Soul by being slower, with a ‘jerky’ rhythm. Many releases on Atlantic Records of the time- like those of The Drifters and Ben E. King – have the sound.
This music was first adopted by the beach areas of the Carolinas where it was called Beach Music (not to be confused with Surf Music). One dance that was perfect for this beat was The Popcorn. Later on came the dance and the sound became a movement – centered in Belgium – and the genre known as Belgian popcorn!
Anyway, though this is a great record that’s danceable, a fab big production, it achieved only moderate success. Atco released two more on him, one in 1964 and one in 1967. For some reason major labels believed in him, Bob Crewe believed in him, the talent was there, but he just failed to become a star. After cutting multiple records for three major labels he quit the business and details about his subsequent life aren’t even known.
We’re left with just the records, and this is a great one!