The Del-Vikings

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The Del-Vikings
The Del Vikings 1957.JPG
The Del-Vikings in 1957
Background information
Also known asThe Dell Vikings
OriginPittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Years active1955–1965

The Del-Vikings (also known as The Dell-Vikings) were an American doo-wop musical group that recorded several hit singles in the 1950s and continued to record and tour with various lineups in later decades. The group is notable for the hit songs "Come Go with Me" and "Whispering Bells", and for having been a successful racially mixed musical group during a period of time when such groups were rare.[1][2][3]


Formation and early fame[edit]

The Del-Vikings were formed in 1955 by members of the United States Air Force stationed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with Clarence Quick, Kripp Johnson, Don Jackson, Samuel Paterson, Bernard Robertson and guitarist Joe Lopes. Because all of the members were in the armed forces, the group constantly ran the risk of being disrupted by members being stationed in other places. This happened soon after the group's forming when Paterson and Robertson were sent to Germany. They were replaced by baritone David Lerchey,[4] the group's first white member, and tenor Norman Wright. Wright had started a group with Lawrence "Prince" Lloyd called The Valverteens from Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas, before joining The Del-Vikings. Shortly after, Don Jackson left the band and was replaced by Gus Backus, the group's second white member.

The band's name was created by Clarence Quick. Some sources say that band members had read about Vikings[5][6] with the prefix "Del" being "added to give the group name an air of mystery."[6] Another suggestion is that Clarence Quick had known of a basketball team in Brooklyn, New York, called the Vikings and had suggested the name.[5] The name may also have originated from the popular Viking Press, publisher of paperbacks that group members liked to read.[6]

Their first hit came in 1957 with "Come Go with Me", released on Fee Bee Records as catalog number FB-205.[7] In late January 1957, Dot Records re-released "Come Go With Me" as Dot 45-15538.[8] The song was written by Clarence Quick[9]. [10] The song became a hit, peaking at #5 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart.[11] It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.[12] The song was later featured in the films American Graffiti (1973), Diner (1982), Stand by Me (1986), Joe Versus the Volcano (1990), and Set It Up (2018).[13] Rolling Stone listed "Come Go With Me" as no. 449 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[14]


All of the group members, other than Kripp Johnson, were under 21 when they signed their recording contract with Fee Bee (a tiny Pittsburgh label, which was later distributed by Dot Records). Having signed the contract as minors, they had the right to be released from it. In 1957, under the direction of their manager, Alan Strauss, they left to record at Mercury Records. Johnson, who was still bound to Fee Bee/Dot, stayed, thus creating two Del-Vikings groups. The original group replaced Johnson with Quick's friend William Blakely and recorded the Backus-led song "Cool Shake". Kripp Johnson constructed a new group with the returning Don Jackson, Chuck Jackson, Arthur Budd, and Ed Everette. This group recorded the Kripp Johnson-led "I'm Spinning", billing themselves as the Dell-Vikings.

The Dell-Vikings also released "Whispering Bells" in May of 1957, with Kripp Johnson singing lead vocals.[15] (The Dot label referred to Johnson as "Krips Johnson".[citation needed]) "Whispering Bells" reached No. 5 on the U.S. R&B chart and #9 on the U.S. pop chart in 1957.[16] "Whispering Bells" was featured in the 1986 film Stand by Me[17] and was included in the film's soundtrack.[18] Johnson also sang lead vocals on the B-side "Don't Be A Fool".

Around this time, some old Fee Bee demo tracks had been sold to an up-and-coming record company, Luniverse, who overdubbed a backing track on these a capella songs, which included an early version of "Come Go with Me". The overdubbed demo was included as a track on an eight-song album subsequently released by Luniverse. Only one single was released from these Luniverse overdubs—"Somewhere Over The Rainbow"/ "Hey Senorita".

Johnson's Dot group had an extra advantage—he had been discharged from the USAF and his group could tour freely, while the original group needed to seek military leave in order to tour. Mercury sued, claiming it had sole rights to any spelling of the group's name, and the Dell-Vikings briefly became The Versatiles, with singles being billed to "Kripp Johnson and the Versatiles" or "Chuck Jackson and the Versatiles". The group broke up, with Chuck Jackson going on to a successful solo career. Meanwhile, the original group had begun to fall apart. Gus Backus was re-stationed, leaving the group a quartet. They broke up soon after. Quick restructured the group with new talent from the Pittsburgh area—lead tenor, Billy G. Woodruff, Willie Green, Horace Douglas "Doug" White, and Ritzy Lee. By the end of 1957, with the breakup of the Dell-Vikings, Kripp Johnson returned to the original group, making them a sextet. They signed to ABC Records (ABC-Paramount). While the nucleus of the group was back, they weren't able to chart any more hits, and the group split up in 1965.

Reunion and split[edit]

The Del-Vikings were back in 1970 with a near original line-up of Clarence Quick, Kripp Johnson, Norman Wright, David Lerchey, and William Blakely. The group re-recorded their old hit for Scepter Records; a new version of "Come Go With Me" made the Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart in 1973 (it also wound up on the Easy Listening chart, where it peaked that year at #32).

They performed Come Go With Me On April 27th, 1973(For The Midnight Special TV Show).The line-up was Billy G. Woodruff, Roalf "Ritzy" Lee, Kripp Johnson, Clarence Quick, and Terry Young.[1]

Norman Wright, David Lerchey, and Wright's two sons, Norman Wright, Jr. and Anthony Wright performed as The Del Vikings for PBS show "Doo Wop 50" in 2000, and Wright toured and performed with his sons for the remainder of his life.

Clarence Quick died May 5th, 1983.[2]

Corinthian "Kripp" Johnson died of cancer on June 22, 1990 at age 57.[3]

Gus Backus died in Germany on February 21, 2019.

David Lerchey (born in New Albany, Indiana) died of cancer on January 29, 2005 in Hallandale, Florida, at age 67.[4][19]

Norman Wright died after a long illness on April 23, 2010, at age 72.[20]

Roalf E. "Ritzy" Lee died On June 27th, 2020.[4]

Singles discography[edit]

Year Titles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart positions Album
1957 "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"
b/w "Hey Senorita"
"What Made Maggie Run"
b/w "Uh Uh Baby" (Non-album track)
Original local release on Pittsburgh-based Fee Bee label
Non-album tracks
"Come Go With Me"
b/w "How Can I Find True Love"
First national release on Dot
5 2
"What Made Maggie Run"
b/w "Little Billy Boy"
National release on Dot with different B-side
"Whispering Bells"
b/w "Don't Be A Fool"
Released on Fee Bee and Dot around the same time
9 5
"Cool Shake"
b/w "Jitterbug Mary"
12 9 Non-album tracks
"I'm Spinning"
Fee Bee B-side: "You Say You Love Me"
Dot and Mercury B-side: "When I Come Home" (from Come Go With Me)
"Come Along With Me"
b/w "Whatcha Gotta Lose" (Non-album track)
They Sing...They Swing
b/w "Your Book Of Life"
Non-album tracks
1958 "Can't Wait"
b/w "The Voodoo Man" (from The Swinging, Singing Del Vikings)
"You Cheated"
b/w "Pretty Little Things Called Girls"
"Flat Tire"
b/w "How Could You"
1960 "Pistol Packin' Mama"
b/w "The Sun"
1961 "A Sunday Kind Of Love"
b/w "Over The Rainbow"
They Sing...They Swing
"Bring Back Your Heart"
b/w "I'll Never Stop Crying"
101 Non-album tracks
"I Hear Bells (Wedding Bells)"
b/w "Don't Get Slick On Me"
"Face The Music"
b/w "Kiss Me"
1962 "The Big Silence"
b/w "One More River To Cross"
"Confession Of Love"
b/w "Kilimanjaro"
"An Angel Up In Heaven"
b/w "The Fishing Chant (Re Manu Pakurua)"
1963 "Too Many Miles"
b/w "Sorcerer's Apprentice"
1964 "I've Go To Know"
b/w "We Three"
1966 "Down In Bermuda"
b/w "Maggie" (Non-album track)
Come Go With Me
1972 "Cold Feet"
b/w "I Want To Marry You"
Both sides with Chuck Jackson
Non-album tracks
1973 "Come Go With Me" (New version)
b/w "When You're Asleep"
"Watching The Moon"
b/w "You Say You Love Me"
"I'm Spinning"
b/w "Girl Girl"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Del Vikings - Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  2. ^ "Remembering Rock 'N' Roll With The Del Vikings". Queens Chronicle. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  3. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. April 7, 2011. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Leigh, Spencer (March 26, 2005). "David Lerchey Singer with the rock'n'roll harmony group the Del-Vikings". Independent. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  5. ^ a b The Del Vikings: Biography at Allmusic. Retrieved April 15, 2008.
  6. ^ a b c The Dell Vikings at Retrieved April 15, 2008.
  7. ^ "Come Go With Me Fee Bee 45 RPM". Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  8. ^ "Come Go With Me Dot 45 RPM". Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  9. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 14 - Big Rock Candy Mountain: Rock 'n' roll in the late fifties. [Part 4]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  10. ^ Hinckley, David. "Fox's 'Glee' rehabilitates 1980s radio hits like 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' by Bonnie Tyler".
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications), page 172.
  12. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 90. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  13. ^ "Set It Up (2018) Music Soundtrack & Complete List of Songs - WhatSong Soundtracks". What-song.
  14. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. April 7, 2011. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  15. ^ "Whispering Bells - Dell-Vikings Classic 1957 Hit song with Cool Video".
  16. ^ "The Del-Vikings, "Whispering Bells" Chart Positions". Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  17. ^ "The Del Vikings - Biography & History". AllMusic.
  18. ^ "Stand by Me - Original Soundtrack - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
  19. ^ "David Lerchey of the Del Vikings dead at 67". February 1, 2005. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  20. ^ "Original Founding Del Vikings Member Norman Wright Passes". Retrieved May 11, 2020.

External links[edit]