were a 1960s doo-wop group. The group members were: lead vocalist Carl White (died January 7, 1980), tenor Al Frazier (died November 13, 2005), baritone Sonny Harris, and bass singer Turner “Rocky” Wilson, Jr.. Frazier was replaced by Madero White for a period in the late 1970s.
Previously, the Rivingtons had been known as the Sharps, and they had already had success in the charts with Thurston Harris’s “Little Bitty Pretty One” in 1957, after which they appeared on several Duane Eddy recordings when any extraneous sounds of rebel yells were required, as on Eddy’s 1958 hit “Rebel Rouser”. They also recorded on Warner Brothers Records as The Crenshaws in 1961.
Their first hit as the Rivingtons was ”
” (Liberty #55427, 1962). Like many such songs, it began with the bass chanting nonsense syllables (in this case the title), followed by the tenor singing over repetitions of it. “Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow”, an even more baroque rewrite of the theme, failed to sell, but they returned to the charts the following year with the similar “The Bird’s the Word”. The B-side of “Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow” was “Waiting” (Liberty #55528).
After their two hit singles, the Rivingtons struggled to find another hit. However, “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” and “The Bird’s the Word” were revived, courtesy of a Minnesota-based group calling itself the Trashmen, who made a song up in 1963 from the two songs’ nonsense syllables, calling it “Surfin’ Bird”. The Trashmen recorded the selection over a record shop and passed it off as their own work. It was a medley of the choruses without the verses. However, the Rivingtons’s management reported it to their lawyers, and the group members were ordered to add the surnames of the Rivingtons to the credits. After the publicity surrounding the allegations in Billboard, the Trashmen had to share the writing credits on not only this recording but also a later one as a sign of good faith. “Surfin’ Bird” itself was revived in the 1970s by the Ramones and the Cramps.