The Rivingtons

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The Rivingtons were a 1960s doo-wop group, known for their 1962 hit novelty record "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow". The members were lead vocalist Carl White (died January 7, 1980), tenor Al Frazier (d. November 13, 2005), baritone Sonny Harris, and bass singer Turner "Rocky" Wilson, Jr.. Frazier was replaced by Madero White for a period in the late 1970s.[1]


The Rivingtons had originally been known as the Sharps and had had success in the charts with Thurston Harris's "Little Bitty Pretty One" in 1957. They then appeared on several Duane Eddy recordings whenever extraneous sounds of rebel yells were required, including Eddy's 1958 hit "Rebel Rouser".[1] They also recorded on Warner Brothers Records as The Crenshaws in 1961.[1]

Their first hit as the Rivingtons was "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" (Liberty #55427, 1962). Like many such songs, it began with the bass chanting nonsense syllables (in this case the title), followed by the tenor singing over repetitions of it.[citation needed] "Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow", an even more baroque rewrite of the theme, failed to sell, but they returned to the charts the following year with "The Bird's the Word". The B-side of "Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow" was "Waiting" (Liberty #55528).[1]

After their two hit singles, the Rivingtons struggled to hit the charts. However, "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" and "The Bird's the Word" were revived in 1963, thanks to a Minnesota-based group called the Trashmen recording the "Surfin' Bird", made up from the Rivington's songs' nonsense syllables. The Trashmen made it in a record shop and passed it off as their own.[2] In fact, it was just a medley of the Rivington's choruses minus the verses.[3][4][5] The Rivingtons' manager reported it to their lawyers, and the Trashmen were ordered to add the surnames of the Rivingtons to the credits.[6] Because of the publicity in Billboard, the Trashmen had to share the writing credits on the recording and a later version as a sign of good faith. "Surfin' Bird" itself was revived in the 1970s by the Ramones[7] and the Cramps.[8]

The Rivingtons recorded several more songs in the 1960s, but their recording career ended after the Columbia single "A Rose Growing in the Ruins" failed to sell. They began performing live again in the 1970s, with Madero White replacing Al Frazier.[1]

Carl White died of acute tonsillitis at age 47 in his Los Angeles home. Al Frazier, Sonny Harris and Rocky Wilson played the oldies circuit extensively throughout the 1980s, replacing White with Clay Hammond until 1987,[9] then Andrew Butler into the 1990s. In 1989, the Rivingtons appeared in an episode of L.A. Law as a doo-wop group, "The Sensations".[10] They were later featured in a 1990 episode of Night Court, "Razing Bull", as Mac's former group-mates "The Starlites".[11]


The Rivingtons released a number of records on the Liberty label, including:[12]


  • "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" b/w "Deep Water"[13]
  • "Kickapoo Joy Juice" b/w "My Reward"
  • "Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow (The Bird)" b/w "Waiting"
  • "The Bird's the Word" b/w "I'm Losing My Grip"
  • "The Shaky Bird (Part 1)" b/w "The Shaky Bird (Part 2)"
  • "Cherry" b/w "Little Sally Walker"
  • "The Weejee Walk" b/w "Fairy Tales"


  • Doin' the Bird (1962)

These songs are all collected on The Liberty Years, released on EMI America.


  1. ^ a b c d e "rivingtons". Retrieved 2012-03-25. 
  2. ^ "Trashmen, The – Surfin' Bird". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  3. ^ THE TRASHMEN "Surfin' Bird". "THE TRASHMEN lyrics – Surfin' Bird". Retrieved 2012-03-25. 
  4. ^ "The Bird's the Word lyrics by The Rivingtons – Filestube Lyrics". Retrieved 2012-03-25. 
  5. ^ "The Rivingtons Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow Lyrics". Retrieved 2012-03-25. 
  6. ^ "Trashmen, The – Surfin' Bird Reissue". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Ramones – Rocket To Russia". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Cramps, The – Surfin' Bird". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Clay Hammond". 1936-06-21. Retrieved 2012-03-25. 
  10. ^ (1989-05-11). "L.A. Law – Season 3, Episode 18: Urine Trouble Now". Retrieved 2012-03-25. 
  11. ^ List of Night Court episodes
  12. ^ "The Rivingtons at Discogs". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow / Deep Water". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 

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