ERNIE BROWN Four words said it all: Rama Lama Ding Dong



Fame was fleeting, but satisfying, for George Wydell Jones.
The Campbell native, who now lives on Youngstown's East Side, is the writer of one of the great doo-wop hits of all time -- "Rama Lama Ding Dong."
Let me explain doo-wop, for those readers born in the 1970s and '80s. It was vocal music that was part of the 1950s and early 1960s rock 'n' roll culture that featured smooth harmonies, fast-paced rhythms and, frankly, lyrics that didn't make a whole lot of sense but sounded good and were inoffensive.
It was dance music that included, on most songs, a lot of saxophone riffs and a heavy, steady bass line.
Some of the big-time doo-wop groups were The Marcels ("Blue Moon") and the Platters ("The Great Pretender" "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes").
The Edsels: Jones, a keyboard player, was caught up in the doo-wop craze, and started a group in Campbell called The Edsels. The group took its name from the make of a car -- made by the Ford Motor Co. -- that appeared in the late 1950s. Jones was the original lead singer.
Jones said the group sang all around the area, but the tune that got them on the national and international charts was one he wrote in about 10 minutes.
"The song came to me in 1956 while I was still in the Air Force," Jones said. "The melody came to me first, and then I just began singing rama lama ding dong. I know that sounds weird, but that's what happened. That's my girl."
After his discharge from the service in 1957, he returned to Campbell, where he lived for 40 years, formed the group, and the vocalists began singing Jones' masterpiece.
Jones said he writes songs without pencil or paper. He tinkers on the keyboard and then arranges the musical phrasings. It was only after he had the music part complete that he would begin writing the lyrics.
Contract: Muze Inc., which has information on several doo-wop groups on the Internet, says The Edsels auditioned for a local publisher who helped the singers land a recording contract.
"Rama Lama Ding Dong" was a local hit when it was recorded in 1959, but the song failed at first on the national level. In 1961, when The Marcels "Blue Moon" became a chart topper, a disc jockey was reminded of "Rama Lama Ding Dong," which had a similar sound, and started playing it.
Demand grew and the song, mistakenly released as "Lama Rama Ding Dong," was re-released under its correct title and became a hit.
Fame: The song was featured in the movies "Andre" and "Moonlighting" and the old TV series "Who's the Boss?" Jones thanked publisher Jim Maderitz, who had the confidence that the group's song would be successful and pushed for it to get play time on radio stations.
Sadly, by the time the song became famous, The Edsels had moved on and could not fully capitalize on its success, the Muze biography says.
The group, however, did put out a compact disc in May 1993 called "Rama Lama Ding Dong The Edsels." Jones said he wrote most of the 17 songs on the CD.
The Edsels, without Jones, who no longer sings, continue touring and performing the classic. He said he hopes the group is eventually put in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The song can be heard occasionally on the local oldies radio station WBBG 106.1.
Lyrics: Here are the words to the 45-year-old classic:
Oh oh oh oh
I got a girl named Rama Lama, Rama Lama Ding Dong
She's everything to me
Rama Lama, Rama Lama Ding Dong
I'll never set her free
For she's mine, all mine.
Oh oh oh oh
I got a girl named Rama Lama, Rama Lama Ding Dong,
She's so fine to me,
Rama Lama, Rama Lama Ding Dong
You don't believe that she's mine, all mine.
I love her,
Love her, love her so.
That I'll never, never let her go.
You may be certain she's mine all mine,
She's mine all of the time.
Oh I got a girl named Rama Lama, Rama Lama Ding Dong
She's everything to me
Rama Lama, Rama Lama Ding Dong
I'll never set her free
For she's mine all mine.

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