One of the first Caucasian acts to perform at traditional black venues including the Apollo in New York, the Uptown in Philadelphia, and the Howard in Washington, D.C., Dante & the Evergreens are remembered for their 1960 novelty recording, "Alley Oop." Recorded at the same time as the version recorded by the Hollywood Argyles, Dante & the Evergreens' "Alley Oop" reached the top slot on the best-selling chart compiled by Cashbox and out-sold the Hollywood Argyle's recording on the east coast. Formed at Santa Monica College in 1959, Dante & the Evergreens showcased the singing talents of Donald "Dante" Drowty, Frank Rosenthal, and Bill Young. Befriended by Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean, the group was brought to the attention of Jan & Dean's managers Herb Alpert and Lou Adler, who signed them to a management deal. The group's sound was solidified with the addition of guitarist, arranger, and vocal coach Tony Moon, whom they met at Alpert and Adler's office.
With the success of "Alley Oop," Dante & the Evergreens toured for a few years. Unable to match the song's success, the group became increasingly frustrated. When Rosenthal became ill in 1964, and the quartet was unable to tour for six months, the four vocalists went their separate ways. Rosenthal returned to college on an athletic scholarship, while Young was unsuccessful in his attempts to break in to movies or music as a soloist. Moon went on to become a highly respected arranger, writer, and producer in Nashville.
Drowty continued to record with Dante & His Friends, a group that featured members of the Rivingtons. One tune recorded by the group, "Little Girl (You're My Miss America)," was covered by the Beach Boys on their 1962 Surfin' Safari album. For the remainder of the '60s and ‘70s, Drowty worked as a writer/producer for Bert Bern's Mellin Music Publishing Company, overseeing recordings by such acts as the Isley Brothers and the McCoys, and periodically recording for the Herb Alpert co-owned A&M label. Since the early '80s, Drowty, who grew up in an impoverished foster family, has devoted himself to working with underprivileged and at-risk youngsters and with southwestern Native American tribes. ~ Craig Harris