Charles Patrick, lead singer, born 11 September 1938
The Monotones recorded one of the most memorable doo-wop novelty songs of the 50s, "Book of Love". "Well I wonder, wonder whoom de doo doo who - BOOM - who wrote the book of love..." The group was a sextet, six buddies living in the same housing project in Newark, New Jersey. They had sung in the same church choir as Dionne Warwick and Cissy Houston beforming forming their own group in 1955. In 1956, they appeared on the "Ted Mack's Amateur Hour" TV programme, singing the Cadillacs' "Zoom". They won first prize and began to think more seriously about a career in music. Inspired by a radio commercial for toothpaste ("You'll wonder where the yellow went / When you brush your teeth with Pepsodent"), group members Patrick, Malone and Davis wrote "Book of Love" to a similar melody. The NYC Hull label liked their demo and invited them to record the song at Bell Sound Studio. While the Monotones were rehearsing the now famous intro, a baseball came crashing through the window, from some kids playing outside. When the tape was played back, there it was, the BOOM before "Who wrote the book of love". It fit, everyone liked it, and it was used in the form of a solitary bass drum. (If it isn't true, it's still a good story.) "Book of Love" was initially released on the small Mascot label, a subsidiary of Hull, in December 1957. Soon, the response was such that Mascot could not handle the orders and the master was licensed to Chess Records, who issued the record on their Argo imprint. By April 1958, "Book of Love" was sitting comfortably at # 5 in the pop charts and # 3 R&B.
The group went on an extended tour with Bobby Darin and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and didn't have the chance to record a follow-up until June. "Tom Foolery"/"Zombi" was not a very good record and failed to chart. The group cut several more singles, most of which, "Ride of Paul Revere", "Legend of Sleepy Hollow", "Tell It to the Judge" deserved a better chart fate, but their first hit would also be their last. In the early sixties, they recorded two "answer" songs, an answer to their own hit called "Reading the Book of Love" and an answer record to an answer record (!) called "Daddy's Home, But Mama's Gone" (answering Shep and the Limelites' "Daddy's Home", which in its turn was a sequel to "A Thousand Miles Away"). One of their best recordings (from a session on June 4, 1959) was shelved until 1980 : "What Would You Do If There Wasn't Any Rock & Roll". The group quietly disbanded in 1962. Members went off to the Army, marriages and regular jobs. However, they re-formed for oldies shows in the 1980s, albeit without the Ryanes bothers, who both died. The Monotones are still performing today. "Book of Love" was recorded by many other artists, the most success- ful remake being by the Raindrops (with Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry) whose version went to # 62 in 1964.
Further reading: Jay Warner, The Billboard book of American singing groups (1992), page 258-260.
CD: The Monotones, Who Wrote the Book of Love (Collectables, 1992). Only 14 tracks. The group never recorded an album.
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