When most people heard the vocal group Riff singing, the ensemble didn’t even have that name yet. They had all attended Eastside High School in Paterson together, and had sung together as The Playboys. In the 1989 Morgan Freeman movie “Lean on Me,” based on the true story of controversial Eastside principal Joe Clark, they sang the school’s alma mater beautifully in a key scene. Soon, they had adopted the name Riff, landed a record deal, and made the Top 40 in 1991 with “My Heart Is Failing Me.” Check it out below.
They had some other minor hits, too, including “White Men Can’t Jump,” from the soundtrack of the 1992 movie. But they never made the Top 40 again.
Group members are still singing together, and will perform at opening night of the State Fair Meadowlands, June 19.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday last year. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we are marking the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. We started in September 2014, and will keep going until late in the summer.
If you would like to suggest any songs to be included, please let me know in the comments section underneath the video. And if you want to see the entire list, either alphabetically or in the order the songs were selected, click here.