To bring a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted group to Wilkes-Barre is a feat. To put three on the same bill and book them at the city’s largest theater venue is something altogether rare.
Longtime local promoter Joe Nardone Sr. will present A Doo Wop Celebration at 7 p.m. Saturday at the F.M. Kirby Center. The four-act showcase is comprised of Herb Reed’s Platters, The Flamingos featuring Terry Johnson and Frankie Lymon’s Legendary Teenagers — all of which have been honored by the Rock Hall — as well as the Cameos.
Terry “Buzzy” Johnson joined The Flamingos in 1956 as the group’s first tenor and is billed as an original member. Today, he leads the current lineup of the group, the members of which have come to be known as “ambassadors for romance.”
“Our music was always romantic music,” Johnson said. “We always tried to keep a positive message about love and how to treat your lady. We were given that name a long time ago, because of our style. We promote romance.”
Today, Johnson takes the stage with New York City vocalists Starling Newsome Jr. and Stan Prinston. Rounding out the team is musical director Theresa Trigg.
“They’re all really talented individuals,” Johnson said. “They are like family. They’re easy to teach harmonies to, and there’s never a complaint that it’s too hard. We get a better response than I’ve had in my other groups. We’re very tight, and we’re all classy people.”
Recently, Johnson’s solo work has brought the sound of modern pop into his vast catalogue. His single, “Ooo Ya Wit,” utilizes elements of reggae and blues to create a song that fits well in the modern R&B cannon, and his tune, “Knock Knock Let Me In (feat. T)” lands somewhere between reggae-pop and dancehall.
Both singles have reached No. 1 on the Euro Indie Chart.
“Being with Smokey Robinson at Motown for 10 years, I learned to open my ears to what’s out there today,” Johnson said. “I’ve been called a musical chameleon. I don’t like to stand still. In every era, there was always music that was outstanding to me.”
Johnson and Trigg also recently co-produced a Boyz II Men doo wop album, “Under the Streetlight,” which is due out Oct. 20 and for which he reproduced the iconic Flamingos song “I Only Have Eyes For You.”
“It sounds so much like The Flamingos, but it also sounds like Boys II Men,” Johnson said. “When I hear it, I get goose flesh.”
When The Flamingos take the stage, Johnson said, they still deliver plenty of songs from the classic catalog, but they always have new surprises in store for an audience.
“If it’s not a Flamingos song, Theresa and I update the music,” he said. “We have a Barry White medley that’ll blow your socks off. We do it for an oldies audience, and they love it.”
Johnson said he has longstanding friendships and experience with each of the other groups on the bill, and that each act brings something unique to the stage.
“To me, it’s going to be a very exciting show,” Johnson said. “Each group has it’s own niche, and all are really excellent at what they do.
“I love Joe Nardone. He’s a beautiful person to work with. He’s never put any restriction on us of what we can or can’t do. I’d like to let Wilkes-Barre know … we are touchable after the show. We will sign autographs. I’m a humble individual who loves to meet people. That’s me.”