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Classic crooners, Doo-Wop legends here Saturday

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Eugene Tompkins and Herb Cox have a lot in common. Both are New York natives, who moved to Fayetteville several years ago.

They both have famous Doo-Wop bands of the 1950s and 1960s in their backgrounds: Tompkins moonlighted with Lillian Leach and The Mellows, and Cox is one of the original Cleftones.

Cox has continued to sing and produce concerts locally, while Tompkins started working at a local radio station and opened "Yesterday's Memories" on Highway 85 in Riverdale, a store specializing in music from the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

A few years back, the two musicians got together and decided to bring Doo-Wop, the music they grew up with, down to the Southern Crescent.

"A lot of those songs that people are still singing today were created back then," said Tompkins, noting that Doo-Wop, once called Rhythm and Blues, gave birth to Rock and Roll and most of today's Pop music. "Recently, there has been a real resurgence of Doo-Wop music. A lot of people don't know the original bands who made that music, so now we can bring those people out."

For the second year in a row, Tompkins and Cox will host "Doo Wop n' Georgia," a concert of Rhythm and Blues legends, at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center. The concert will take place on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.

The headliners at this year's concert will be Little Anthony and The Imperials. Cox described the band as "the pre-eminent vocal group today that had its roots in the '50s and '60s."

"They're from the classic beginnings of Rock and Roll," Cox said. "These are the artists who really set the stage for pop music today."

Another notable band performing this year are Speedo and The Cadillacs. The band, which started in 1955, was one of the first groups to combine singing with dance choreography.

"The Temptations got it all from them," said Tompkins. "They were the first group to put the show in show business." Noted for their flashy costumes and sharp choreography, the band was inducted into both the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.

Other featured bands include, The Bobbettes, known for the hit single, "Mr. Lee;" Johnny Mason's Clovers, famous for songs, such as "Devil or Angel" and "Love Potion #9; and The Sock Hops, a metro Atlanta, four-part-harmony a cappella group.

"It's a watershed moment," said Cox, of the concert. "A lot of these [performers] were originally from the northeast, but have migrated to the Atlanta area. A lot of the fan base is here. We think this is a real cultural must for this area.

"They will be seeing the original artists who really created the roots of Rock and Roll," Cox continued. "It's part of America's heritage."

Tickets are $25 for general admission and $35 for reserved seating. For $65, people can purchase VIP tickets, which will entitle them to a meet-and-greet with the artists from 5:30-6:30 p.m. VIPs will be able to meet the artists, take pictures, and solicit autographs.

To purchase tickets, call (678) 849-8457 or (770) 471-4466. For directions only, call (770) 473-2875. The Performing Arts Center is located at 2530 Mt. Zion Parkway in Jonesboro.