By Bob “The Record Guy” Paxon
With the lack of success of the Vibraharps’ 1959 records the group drifted apart. Donnie Elbert had previously struck out on his own and was finding chart success. Founding Vibraharps member Daniel “Danny” Cannon took his shot and lucked out by hooking up with Bob Crewe. I have previously made a 45 Friday posting for a record from his first solo run, at ABC Paramount. I won’t repeat the story in-depth here but I’ll give the highlights.
Danny Cannon adopted the new stage-name of Lenny O’Henry (though sometimes this shows up as Lenny O. Henry), cleverly calling his backing group The Short Stories. His first two releases were on ABC Paramount in 1961. Next he moved to Smash Records in 1963.
By 1963 he was back on Atco – familiar ground from the previous Atco Vibraharps 45. Like his previous records these sides were produced by Bob Crewe and were written by some combination of Crewe, his associates, and Cannon. Crewe at this time was a huge industry power with the success of the Four Seasons. And he pulled out all the stops to repeat that success for Cannon, bringing in the Four Seasons to sing backup on 1963’s Across The Street.
Like the previous Lenny O’Henry records this one had a “Popcorn” sound, as did many of the Four Seasons records. It’s a hard sound to define and it wasn’t called that at the time- picking up the name later among European fans who started whole dance scenes around the records. Basically a mid-tempo beat with Latin accents, it differs from similar Northern Soul by having a ‘jerkier’ rhythm. Many releases on Atlantic Records at that time- like those of The Drifters and Ben E. King – have a similar sound.
This music was wholeheartedly adopted by the beach areas of the Carolinas where it’s called Beach Music – not to be confused with Surf Music. Later on came the Popcorn movement centered in Belgium, a dance was called The Popcorn, and the genre known as Belgian popcorn!
Anyway, though this is a great record that’s danceable, a fab big production, it achieved only moderate success. Atco released two more on him, one in 1964 and one in 1967. For some reason major labels believed in him, Bob Crewe believed in him, the talent was there, but he just failed to become a star. After cutting multiple records for three major labels he quit the business and details about his subsequent life aren’t even known.
We’re left with just the records, and this is a great one!