I enjoyed the article “At the Hop: A Lesson in Staying Power” (Calendar, March 6) as it showed the other side of being a rock ‘n’ roll singer, the less glamorous, uglier side, the side you don’t often hear about.
Being a rock ‘n’ roll singer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Along with the fleeting fame and temporary big bucks, there is the loneliness, the despair, the uncertainty, the perpetual struggle to survive and make ends meet, the exhaustion of the never-ending travel from nameless town to nameless town, more often than not appearing in small, broken-down bars and clubs, rather than spacious, elegant nightclubs and outdoor arenas.
The group Danny and the Juniors, which had such hits as “At the Hop” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Here to Stay,” found that fame is a two-edged sword. It brought them fairly steady royalties from their records, but it confined and stereotyped them, as fans didn’t want to listen to their new material, but only their old hits.
Their lead vocalist, Danny Rapp, finally wore out in the desert town of Quartzsite, Ariz., taking his own life about five years ago. (Some) of his last words were: “I’m tired. I’m coming off the road.”
But the article wasn’t a total downer, as it was informative, and brought out some things I didn’t know before. For example, I didn’t know that Dick Clark suggested that they give their song a catchier title, “At the Hop” (its original title was “Do the Bop”). Also, I didn’t realize that one of the group’s original members and its premier writer, Dave White, was so young--only 18 when he first joined the group. I also had no idea that White was so multi-talented; in addition to being a tenor harmonist with Danny and the Juniors and involved in writing the group’s two big hit songs, he later left the group and helped co-author such songs as “You Don’t Own Me” for Leslie Gore and “1-2-3" for Len Barry.
I hope White’s new video, “Far Out,” which is being shot in Orange County by Cinema City, a Costa Mesa production company, is a success.
KENNETH L. ZIMMERMAN