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The Medallions

The Los Angeles-based Medallions -- who formed in early 1954 -- are best known for their durable double-sider "The Letter" b/w "Buick '59," one of Dootsie Williams' first doo wop singles for his DooTone label.

The original Medallions formed after intense 16-year-old lead singer Vernon Green, (a native of Denver, CO) -- who was strolling down an East Los Angeles street, singing out loud, caught the ear of Walter "Dootsie" Williams, owner of Dootone, who encouraged Green to come to his offices. Green didn't have a group, but he wasted no time in putting together a quartet of street kids: Andrew Blue (tenor), Randolph Bryant (baritone), and Ira Foley (bass). Green, a polio victim who walked with difficulty, began calling his group the Medallions because of his penchant for wearing medallions around his neck.

Williams booked studio time for the group, and their first single, "The Letter" (written in the style of the Diablos' popular hit "The Wind"), received extensive airplay in Los Angeles and provided regional hits for the Dootone label in New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, though its slow movement through the independent distribution territories precluded it from charting nationally. The single also started a Medallions trend for the next few singles: they continued writing in the same vein, with two distinct sides to their work: the romantic ballads on one side were sung straight, in almost agonizing purity, while the faster rockin' numbers on the flip were partly tongue-in-cheek out-of-control automobiles.

Willy Graham later replaced Blue, and Donald Woods joined to make it a quintet. There were about a dozen Dootone singles in all with this lineup. With Bryant on lead, Dootone issued the last Medallions single in mid-1955, but the group broke up shortly after. Undaunted, Green grabbed tenors Kenneth Williams and Frank Marshall and formed the Cameos, who quickly issued a single on Dootone the same month that "Edna" was released. Dootsie Williams then paired Vernon Green with the Dootones, christening them the "new" Medallions and sent them on a Canadian tour. (Their promo photo was actually a Dootones photo with a cutout of Green's head glued to the lower left-hand corner.)

Woods and the others, meanwhile, left Green to strike out on their own as the Vel-Aires for Flip. In the fall of 1955, the new Medallions -- Vernon and brother Jimmy Green (tenor), Charles Gardner (tenor, formerly of the Dootones), Albert Johnson (tenor), and Otis Scott (bass) -- backed Johnny Morrisette on "My Pretty Baby"). Other lineups of the Medallions may have included Albert Johnson, Billy Foster, bass singers Bubba Carter and Joe Williams, and many others. Two more singles with Morrisette followed and the group became officially known as Vernon Green and the Medallions, recording three singles for Dootsie's newly re-christened Dooto label.

The new Medallions then jumped to Art Rupe's Specialty Records in 1957 and re-formed as the Phantoms. Their masquerade gimmick --- wearing hoods on stage --- was a bit transparent: Green was the only known lead singer at the time in L.A. who walked with a cane because of his polio, so everyone knew who the lead "phantom" was.

Later in 1957, Green drifted back to Dooto with yet another Medallions, this time made up of Foster, Williams, and Jimmy Green. By 1962, Vernon and Jimmy Green, along with Gardner, Johnson, and Scott, recorded for Pan World and in 1964, Jerome Evans, Ed Carter, and Jimmy and Vernon Green recorded the group's next Medallions single for Minit. Green had a car accident in the mid-‘60s and shunned singing for nine years, returning to Dooto as a solo artist, this time to chance his arm at soul music, in 1973. He was backed by Evans, Maxine Green (his sister-in-law), and Doris Green. Vernon Green never regained his early momentum, but he continued to perform despite occasional bouts of bad health and the fact that he was confined to a wheelchair. ~ Bryan Thomas
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Vocal Groups: Classic Doo Wop

Disc 1

2. Sweet Georgia Brown

3. Sweet And Slow

4. Swing Is The Thing

5. My Walking Stick

6. I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water

7. If I Didn't Care

9. Whispering Grass

11. That's The Rhythm

12. I Like Pie, I Like Cake

13. Milk Shake Stand

15. The Blues Can Jump

17. Hoe Cake, Hominy And Sassafras Tea

19. Wig Blues

20. Write Me A Letter

21. Around About Midnite

22. Ever Lovin' Slick

23. It's Too Soon To Know

24. Five O'Clock Blues

25. Jumping Jack

26. Rival Blues

Disc 2

1. Too Much Of A Little Bit

2. What's The Matter With You

3. Lemon Squeezing Daddy

4. Please Don't Leave Me

5. My Baby's Gone

6. How Could You

7. One More Time

8. Will You Be Mine

9. Sixty Minute Man

10. Make Me Thrill Again

11. Mary Jo

12. Ting-A-Ling

13. Stormy Weather

14. Eyesight To The Blind

15. The Glory Of Love

17. Good Googa Mooga

18. Just Walking In The Rain

19. I Wasn't Thinkin', I Was Drinkin'

20. Money Honey

21. Gee

22. I Found Out

23. A Sunday Kind Of Love

24. Get With It

Disc 3

1. Be Bop Wino

2. Feel So Good

3. Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite

5. Tell Me

6. Big Leg Mama

8. Is It A Dream

11. Hearts Of Stone

12. Baby Let Me Bang Your Box

13. The Stars Are Out Tonight

15. Gloria

16. Riot In Cell Block No.9

17. Oop Shoop

18. Grief By Day, Grief By Night

19. What Do You Do

20. Mary Lee

23. Buick '59

24. Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)

25. Newly Wed

Disc 4

1. Smokey Joe's Cafe

2. You Didn't Learn It At Home

3. Witchcraft

4. Chop Chop Boom

5. Rollin' Stone

6. No No Cherry

7. My Angel

8. I'm Leavin' (Clickity Clack)

9. The Door Is Still Open

10. That's Your Mistake

11. Baby Let's Play House

12. Be Bop Baby

14. Hug A Little, Kiss A Little

15. I Need You So

16. When You Dance

17. At My Front Door

18. Lonely Nights

19. Red Hots And Chili Mac

20. Bye Bye

21. A Story Untold

22. Don't Play No Mambo

23. Peace And Contentment

24. Nobody Knows

26. The Great Pretender

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