When some of doo-wop’s finest singers reflected on their craft recently for the new documentary, Streetlight Harmonies, they agreed that they started out performing on the streets in the Fifties for two main reasons: the camaraderie and the female attention.
In a clip from the film – which premieres Tuesday, November 14th as part of the Doc NYC festival – the Drifters’ Charlie Thomas explains how it worked. “The main thing was all the girls used to come to the best group. And we were the best group … they used to come and crowd and load up our corner.” Then he pauses and looks off-screen, “Excuse me, wife, this was my younger days.” The snippet also features the Coasters’ Leon Hughes and Brian McKnight, among others, as the Five Satins’ “In the Still of the Night” plays in the background.
Streetlight Harmonies traces the history of the genre from its street-corner origins through to Sixties girl groups and beyond, and charts doo-wop’s influence on modern-day boy bands. Brent Wilson, who has made videos for ‘N Sync and Chris Isaak, directed the film. It features new interviews with Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, “Little” Anthony Gourdine, Lance Bass and the Crystals’ La La Brooks, among others, as well as restored archival footage.