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The Dell Vikings

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  • Formed: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Years Active: 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s
  • Group Members: Gus Backus, Chuck Jackson


Biography All Music Guide

Group Members: Gus Backus, Chuck Jackson

All Music Guide:

Providing a transition from the big band-harmony singers of the 1940s and the street-corner doo-wop groups of the 1950s, the Dell Vikings -- usually known as the Del Vikings -- are best remembered for their single, "Come Go With Me," which became a major hit in 1957.

The members of the Dell Vikings -- Norman Wright, Corinthian "Kripp" Johnson, Don Jackson, Clarence Quick, and Dave Larchey -- first sang together informally while stationed at an Air Force base in Pittsburgh. Agreeing to work together as a band, the Dell Vikings recorded a demo tape in the basement of DJ Barry Kaye. Three months later, they recorded six tunes -- "Baby, Let Me Know," "True Love," "When I Come Home," "Don't Be a Fool," "Watching The Moon," and "Come Go With Me" -- in a makeshift recording studio set up at Pittsburgh's Sheraton Hotel.

Releasing their debut single, "True Love" b/w "Baby, Let Me Know," on the small, independent Fee-Bee label in late 1956, the Dell Vikings seemed on the threshold of stardom. Encouraged by local radio airplay, Fee-Bee reissued "True Love" in January 1957, with "Come Go With Me" replacing the original B-side.

As DJs flipped the single over and began playing "Come Go With Me," the song's popularity continued to grow. Within three weeks, Fee-Bee signed a national distribution deal with Dot. One week after being re-released in February, "Come Go With Me" appeared on the national charts.

The rest of 1957 and early-1958 was a whirlwind of activity. Recording a dozen songs in a studio in Ohio in March 1957, the group went on to perform during Alan Freed's Easter-week revue at the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, NY. Problems arose shortly afterward when Mercury discovered that when the Dell Vikings had signed with Fee-Bee only one member was over the legal consent age of 21 and attempted to have the contract voided. After several months of intense fighting, Mercury, Dot, and Fee-Bee resolved their dispute with Fee-Bee retaining management of the group through December 1957 and Mercury securing rights to the group's name.

The conflict was far from over, however. While Mercury renamed the group the Del Vikings, Fee-Bee attempted to circumvent their agreement with the larger label. Recording a new song, "I'm Spinning," with tenor vocalist Corinthian "Kripp" Johnson backed by session vocalists, they credited the single to Kripp Johnson & the Dell Vikings. Following a law suit, Mercury gained exclusive right to the group's name, regardless of spelling.

In 1957, another label, El Dorado, planned to release an album with nine songs recorded before the Dell-Vikings had signed with Fee-Bee. Overdubbing instrumentation to the previously a cappella recordings, Buchanan & Goodman released the album on their Luniverse label. Following a lawsuit by Dot, the album was withdrawn from circulation.

The legal battles had a devastating effect on the Dell-Vikings. Although they appeared, in a cameo role, in the rock & roll film The Big Beat in February 1958, they became increasingly frustrated when they were unable to record another hit and disbanded.

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