The Rivingtons

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"Sonny Harris" redirects here. For the American football player, see Ra'Shon Harris.

The Rivingtons were a 1960s doo-wop group. The group members were: lead vocalist Carl White (died January 7, 1980), tenor Al Frazier (died 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]


Previously, the Rivingtons had been known as the Sharps, and they had already had success in the charts with Thurston Harris's "Little Bitty Pretty One" in 1957, after which they appeared on several Duane Eddy recordings when any extraneous sounds of rebel yells were required, as on 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 similar "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 find another hit. However, "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" and "The Bird's the Word" were revived, courtesy of a Minnesota-based group calling itself the Trashmen, who made a song up in 1963 from the two songs' nonsense syllables, calling it "Surfin' Bird". The Trashmen recorded the selection over a record shop and passed it off as their own work.[2] It was a medley of the choruses without the verses.[3][4][5] However, the Rivingtons's management reported it to their lawyers, and the group members were ordered to add the surnames of the Rivingtons to the credits.[6] After the publicity surrounding the allegations in Billboard, the Trashmen had to share the writing credits on not only this recording but also a later one 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 '60s, but after the Columbia single "A Rose Growing in the Ruins" flopped, their recording career ended. They took up performing again in the '70s, with Madero White replacing Al Frazier.[1]

Carl White died at age 47, of acute tonsillitis, 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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