The Monotones were a six-member American doo-wop vocal group in the 1950s. They are considered a one-hit wonder, as their only hit single was “The Book of Love”, which peaked at #5 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1958.
The Monotones formed in 1955 when the seven original singers, all residents of the Baxter Terrace housing project in Newark, New Jersey, began performing covers of popular songs.
Charles Patrick’s brother James was originally a member, but he left soon after the group’s formation.
They all began singing with the New Hope Baptist Choir, directed by Cissy Houston, who was related to the Patrick brothers. The group launched their career with a 1956 appearance on Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour television program, winning first prize for their rendition of The Cadillacs’ “Zoom”. Soon afterwards, Charles Patrick was listening to the radio and heard a Pepsodent toothpaste commercial with the line “wonder where the yellow went.” From there he got the idea for the line, “I wonder, wonder, wonder who!, who wrote the book of love”, later working it up into a song with Davis and Malone. In September 1957, they recorded “Book Of Love”, which was released on the Mascot label in December that year. The small record company could not cope with its popularity, and it was reissued on Chess Records’ subsidiary Argo label in February 1958. It became a hit, eventually reaching #3 on the Billboard R&B chart and #5 on the pop charts. The record sold over one million copies. It also reached #5 in Australia; in the UK, the hit version was a cover version by The Mudlarks.
The Monotones recorded a series of novelty follow-ups including “Zombi”, and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, but they were not successful.
The Monotones disbanded in 1962.