Danny & the Juniors Big West Denver Basement Tour
My life as a bonafide “Junior” occurred back in the winter of 1957 while growing up in the West Denver neighborhood of Barnum (yes – the entertainer and circus master who – so rumor had it – had a residence in the Denver neighborhood – and further had it that he often stored large circus animals on his property – The truth is P.T. purchased a large plot of land (700-plus acres) in what would for a time became “Barnum Town” before being annexed by neighboring Denver. He never lived permanently in the neighborhood and only visited Colorado very briefly four different times over the course of his life – P.T. was disappointed in his land purchase once he set his eyes on it and this led to a sale. Today most of his purchase is occupied by Barnum Park).
A bunch of my elementary school pals (Newlon Elementary) decided that we had to somehow become “Danny & The Juniors”. And an opportunity presented itself when we got permission to have a sock hop party at Tommy’s house (his mother had some reservations but thought it would be okay – chaperones would be present).
With a venue to debut our talents we promptly began meeting in Tommy’s basement after school picking out the monster hit of the time “At the Hop”, placing the disk on a portable hi fi player (the record was mine) and then putting together our pantomime routine for the big night.
Our biggest challenge was deciding who would be “Danny” the lead singer. With that settled (Clayburg won out – He was the most popular of the four of us – Charlie being a close second – I was a very distant 4th) we then embarked on a huge debate on which of the opening chorus of “Bah, Bah, Bah, Bah” belonged to Danny. Was he first so that he could get ready to step on in front for the lead vocal or was he third – delivering the strongest of the four “Bahs”?
Someone had seen American Bandstand when the Juniors performed for Dick Clark and insisted that Danny was indeed third. That settled that and so we began rehearsals (turns out we were wrong – take a look at the video) working in some primitive street corner moves to go along with our performance. (We didn’t have any idea what “street corner moves” were but we still worked some in.) If we had actually gone out on a street corner and began singing one of two things would happen: A parent or neighbor wood likely tell us to go home – or the dreaded Barnum Gang would have passed by and promptly pounded us.)
The Big Night came with many of the coolest kids from Newlon present – especially the girls – and we launched our careers with a largely forgettable by everyone else rendition of “At the Hop”.
As I recall we probably repeated the performance two or three times that night before being cut off. And we followed the performance at a few more garage sock hops later in during the summer at my house and a few other friends homes. The Danny and the Juniors hit faded from the charts to be replaced by “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay” but our careers faded forever. After that year – we never again took to the stage.
I Witness The Troubled Danny Rapp
Danny & the Juniors were lead singer Danny Rapp, David White, Frank Maffei and Joe Terranova. They formed out of Philadelphia, PA in 1955 as “The Juvenaires” then as the Juniors and hit the big time with their first national charting record “At the Hop” the song was first titled “At the Bop”). They charted a total of 9 times from 1957 until 1963. The group stayed together for part of the 1970’s finally splitting into two versions of “Danny & The Juniors”.
One night back in about 1959 (when I was 12 years old) I was riding in the back seat of my parent’s car with my teenage sister Pam and our North Denver cousin Janet (who was really cool). We were returning from the heartland of Kansas (Stockton) driving back to our homes in Denver and Janet dialed the broadcast power-house KOMA out of Oklahoma City.
Danny and the Juniors were live in the studio being inteviewed by a KOMA jock when something went wrong. Danny Rapp – for some reason which I can’t recall – stormed out of the studio, jumping into their car, leaving the other three Juniors with the disc jockey (I Posted briefly about this some time ago). The jockey would open the microphone to members of the Juniors and they would take turns making pleas for Danny to come back to the station. “Come on Danny -just turn the car around and come back to the studio” one of the Juniors exclaimed. That is all I remember. I don’t recall if Danny came back during the broadcast or not. Sounds like it very well could have been a publicity stunt but who knows?
Tragically, Danny committed suicide in Arizona in 1983 in a hotel in the small town of Quartsite.
After the Juniors: David White & The Spokesmen
Junior David White would later become a member of the anti-protest group “The Spokesmen” who charted with “The Dawn of Correction” in the fall of 1965 (#36). Along with White were members Johnny Medara and Roy Gilmore. Madera & White were composers 0f “At the Hop”. White composed the Junior’s follow-up hit “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay” (#19 in 1958). White also was a co-writer for “The Dawn of Correction” an answer song to Barry McGuire’s “The Eve of Destruction”.
White was a talented song writer also composing or co-composing “The Fly” with Medara sung Chubby Checker (#7, 1961), “You Don’t Own Me” by Leslie Gore (#2, 1963), the two hits “1-2-3” by Len Barry (#2, 1965), and “Like A Baby” (#27, 1966) three hits for The Pixie Three “Birthday Party” (#40, 1965), “442 Glenwood Avenue” (#56, 1964), “Cold, Cold Winter” (#79, 1963 – the flip side of “Glenwood”), “Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pie” for girl group The Sherrys (#35 in 1962), and “The Boy Next Door” by The Secrets (#18, 1963).
David joined The Crystal Mansion and composed a minor hit “The Thought of Loving You” (#84, 1968).
Tracks performed by Danny & The Juniors – Many composed or co-composed by David White:
David White composed or co-composed Tracks (some charting) for other artists:
(In addition to these many other artists cut David White tracks – “You Don’t Own Me” being an example with many, many artists such as The Heywoods, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, The Tremeloes, Dusty Springfield and others recording the song through the years.