There must have been a million doo-wop bands in Newark, Jersey City, Camden and New Jersey’s other urban areas in the late 1950s. One of the few who broke through, though, was the poorly named but great-sounding sextet The Monotones, who formed in Newark’s Baxter Terrace housing project and got their start singing in New Hope Baptist Church, along with Cissy Houston and Dionne Warwick.
Their buoyant “The Book of Love” — which asks the eternal question, “Who wrote the book of love?” — made the Top 10 in 1958, and remains one of the most indelible hits of the Doo-Wop Era.
Their success was short-lived. They never had another hit, and disbanded in 1962. Various comebacks brought new versions of the group to the oldies circuit, though, into the 1990s.
“The Book of Love” was sung by Warren Davis, Charles Patrick, George Malone, Frankie Smith and the brothers John and Warren Ryanes. There was also a seventh original Monotones member, Patrick’s brother James, but he left before “The Book of Love” became a hit.
Below is a great clip of the band lip-synching the song on the ABC television show,”Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beechnut Show.”
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.
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