Long before Wi-fi, my parents had Hi-fi.
They were proud of the enormous beige unit, which not only translated Mozart into stereo, but enabled us to hear a new-fangled but little-heard service called FM radio.
Classical was their music of choice, both for listening and participating. My father’s futile but fervert attempts to master the viola paled in comparison to the skills of his brother-in-law, since Hilbert Serbin was first violinist of the New Jersey Symphony.
But both participated in a rotating monthly chamber music group that occasionally appeared in our house.
My tastes, though tolerant of classical music, were more contemporary.
My preferred station was not WQXR but WINS, when the station employed deejays with family-friendly nicknames like Cousin Brucie. When he moved to WABC (and later WCBS-FM and Sirius XM Satellite Radio) so did my ears.
By the time I started my four-year sojourn at Syracuse University in 1965, the bite of the rock bug had blossomed into a full-blown infection. I was creating my own “Top Ten” song list, even including a Pick Hit of the Week, and posting the typed list on my dorm room bulletin board.
I was also perfecting a half-decent impression of Bruce Morrow, well-established as my radio cousin by that time. It’s amazing to me that I can still hear him, nearly half a century later, or that the music he introduced and promoted is still so popular.
Perhaps the main reason for that is the devotion of a diehard fan named Richard Nader.
Nader not only loved listening, but saved the art form as if it were a famous landmark. No way would he let the wrecking ball of time turn the sound into an echo.
He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
When they make the movie about Richard Nader’s life, its title will be Sound Trek: the Next Generation.
He dedicated his life to keeping the music he loved alive for future generations.
This year is not only the 45th anniversary of the first Rock ‘n Roll Revival concert by Richard Nader Entertainment, which sold out Madison Square Garden, but also the 25th anniversary of the Doo Wop Reunion, another RNE production.
The 2014 Doo Wop Reunion, planned for the IZOD Center in the Meadowlands May 31, will feature long-time New York deejay Don K. Reed plus a dozen groups whose roots reach deep into the New York area. The concert will be dedicated to Nader, who passed away five years ago.
“Richard felt many American Rock ‘n Roll and Doo Wop artists had their careers cut short because of the British Invasion,” said Deborah Nader, who married Richard in 2000. “Richard was a true fan of this music and his mission was to give the artists the opportunity to bring back their songs. That’s how the Rock ‘n Roll Revival started.”
Doo Wop, which is even older, began as street-corner harmony and influenced many performing artists.
Like Deborah, I’m convinced the Doo Wop sound is different. Not too raucous, not too loud, it is music to be savored and not gulped. Listeners can understand the words. It’s perfect for a slow dance, a slow kiss, or a stroll down a country lane with a transistor radio.
It’s the music of a bygone era when things were slower and happier. More often than not, it’s the music of love.
There’s something about Doo Wop music that digs deep into the soul. Maybe it’s the melody, maybe it’s the harmony, maybe it’s the words, or maybe it’s all of the above.
Nader first expressed his love of Doo Wop as a disc jockey in high school. He later hosted a rock ‘n roll show on the Armed Forces Radio network while stationed in Korea.
In 1969, he put his money where his heart was. A fervent believer in the power of early Rock ‘n Roll, he spent $35,000 to rent Madison Square Garden’s Felt Forum. He not only had to to bring together long-dormant groups but even bought matching outfits for some of the singers.
Nader struck gold when he convinced Scott Muni, then a popular deejay, to emcee the 1969 concert. But Ricky Nelson went against Nader’s wishes to perform only his hits and raised the ire of fans who did not want to hear his new music. Booed off the stage, he returned later in the show to sing his original songs and turned the jeers into cheers. That event later spawned a huge hit record called Garden Party. It became one of Nelson’s biggest hits.
After a year in the Felt Forum, the show moved to the larger main arena in 1970, selling out 21 times in its first 25 years and topping 400,000 in total ticket sales.
Nader’s concert tour eventually visited 80 cities and 40 colleges, helping to spark the oldies revival on radio and prompting a 1973 movie called Let the Good Times Roll.
Impressed with the public response to the music, WCBS-FM adopted an oldies format in 1972 that included The Doo Wop Shop, which Don K. Reed hosted for 27 years. Other deejays who worked there before moving to Sirius XM were Bruce Morrow, better known as Cousin Brucie, and Norm N. Nite, who later hosted his weekend Rock On show live from the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
All were friends with Richard Nader.
“He was truly a visionary,” Deborah Nader said of Richard. “He was all about keeping the music alive so that our generation and future generations might continue to enjoy the music. Fans leave our concerts with smiles on their faces and songs in their hearts. What could be better than that?”
Richard Nader may be gone, but his legacy lives on. Deborah operates Richard Nader Entertainment from her Clearwater, Florida office and complies with the Truth In Music Law, producing concerts only with groups that have at least one original member or the legal right to use the name.
Many of those groups have New York roots that reach all the way back to street-corner harmony in Brooklyn and the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
Among the New York acts scheduled to appear May 31 at IZOD are The Belmonts, Chantels, Jay And The Americans, Larry Chance And the Earls, Mello Kings, Vito Balsamo (formerly of The Salutations), and Tommy Mara and the Crests, who will do a salute to the late Johnny Maestro. Many of these acts participated in the original Doo Wop Reunion 25 years ago. Prior to the 7:00 concert, an antique car show and a cappella stage hosted by Don K. Reed will be held outside; gates open at 3.
As Deborah Nader explained, “It’s all about the music and all about the fans. And for me, it’s about keeping Richard’s memory alive.”
Richard Nader Entertainment promotes concerts, cruises, corporate parties, and special events. For more information, visit www.richardnader.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 727-595-1700.