The History of the Street Corner Acappella Groups

Blow Some Notes

The History of the Street Corner Acappella Groups
by Tom Mitchell

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Started 8-15-22, Updated 05-19-23

Hope to be completed sometime in late 2023


It is now 2023 and Street Corner Acappella Groups have been in my ear, and part of my life, for over 58 years.  So I will put my view of the History of the Street Corner Acappella Groups online.  So here I am sharing my knowledge and research from seven decades. I know there are many out there that know just as much and even more than I do.  I hope you also share your knowledge and history. I will provide links to as many topics I refer to.

Remember: If you would like to contribute your knowledge / experience to this history you can always send me an email to - 

Now lets begin...

My Intro

I started listening to radio in 1959, when I was 10 years old. WNJR and WWRL were the stations that caught my ear when surfing the NYC/NJ radio stations. The DJs consisted of Hal Wade, Danny Stiles, Bobby Jay, Hank Spann and Hal Jackson. For some reason I remember hearing "Teardrops", by Lee Andrews and the Hearts that first open my ears to vocal group harmony.

Being from New Jersey, Jersey City Heights, I started collecting records in 1961 at a couple of record shops on Central Ave. I had a paper route, the Jersey Journal, on Bleecker St. and had spending money to support my vinyl disease.  In 1962 I starting working part-time at Meyer's Youth Center, Central Ave and Charles St. in the Heights, for some more vinyl cash.

The Kings Of Street Corner Acappella

We all considered the Nutmegs as the First Kings Of Acappella because of their demo recordings that were released.  But in reality, through the word of mouth, east coast acappella crazies, The Zircons were the First Kings of Street Corner Acappella.  They were loaded with reverb.  Stormy Weather - Zircons . 
Acappella Shows, with at least a dozen or more vocal groups, started showing up all around the NYC, NJ area.  After a few shows, by audience applause,  The Chessmen became he new Kings of the Street Corner Acappella Groups.  They appeared on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour in 1964.  In early 1965 I heard a couple of songs by the Chessmen - I Want To Dance -  and Love Is What The World Is Made Of.  I was hooked.  Ted Ziffer was their baritone and lead at that time.

In 1965, now almost 16 yrs old, an on a quest for Motown 45s, I made the bus trip to Journal Square, JCNJ, to Stan's Square Records. Stan R. Krause was the owner. His shop was right next to the State Theater.   While fanning through the record bins, I heard this group in the back room rehearsing. They were singing a Motown hit, but with no instruments. The group was The Royal Counts and they were working with their Music Director, Skip Jackson.  This was my first "live" introduction to Street Corner Acappella Groups. 

From 1965-1966 Stan' produced acappella shows in Hackensack, Jersey City and Passaic.  I remember driving The Royal Counts to the show in Hackensack with all five Royal Counts in my car and getting my own private concert as they warmed up on the way.  I probably attended at least a half dozen acappella shows over the next two years.  I hung out at Stan's, on a Friday night, playing the records we found as collectors. I traveled all over NJ and NYC, to every record store, for vinyl 45s.  (collecting 45 R&B vocal groups was a disease for many of us back then). 

In 1968 I received my draft notice.  Since I had some IT experience working at Guardian Life Insurance Co in NYC for almost two years, I decided to join the USAF before my reporting day for the draft.  The USAF committed to more IT training for me and that I would stay in the IT field.  I spend almost a year outside Dallas, then received my TS-CNWDI clearance and received orders for Albuquerque NM, FCDNA.

During my four years in the USAF, 69-72,  I coordinated my leave with all the Acappella and Doo Wopp shows around the NY metropolitan area.  In 1970, I had a great record find in ABQ, sent records back to Stan Records and Relic Rack for their walls, and for you to buy.  In 1971 I became a DJ at the local UNM Radio Station and played Soul Music on the air.  In 1972, I returned home to JCNJ.  In 1973, I decided to sell my 45 record collection to Val Shivley in PA.  And in 1974 decided to move back to Albuquerque, NM, where my wife family was.

In 1973 I picked up my first book on street corner groups, - They All Sang On The Corner - by Philip Groia - ISBN 0-912954-08-6.  With a group (Harptones with Willie) on the cover, under a streetlight, was what this sound was all about.  Most of this book is dedicated to the NYC R&B Vocal Groups of the 1950's and has nothing to do with the street corner acappella groups of the 1960's.  

So let's start this, my history knowledge and research, of The Street Corner Acappella Groups.


Chapter 1 - "The Mentor"
Wayne Stierle

Wayne was one of the creators of the "Street Corner Acappella Group" sounds. It all happened as follows:

Circa 1962

Along with Donn Fileti (more on Donn later), Wayne discovered unreleased master recordings that were to be purchased on behalf of three people, that included Donn, Wayne, and industry vet Leo Rogers. When Leo backed out of the deal, it was taken to "Slim" at Times Records, who made the purchase. Donn left the area, and Wayne continued on, eventually owning a few of the masters from the huge tape and demo findings.

These tapes included practice tapes by the great Connecticut group, The Nutmegs. Like many practice tapes, these recordings were done without paying a band, as simple showcases for either the song, or for an arranger to listen to and thereby write an arrangement for a band or small combo. These recordings were done without music, and not planned for release whatsoever.

Prompted by Wayne, "Slim" decided to release The Nutmegs recordings, although he had offered to give them to Wayne in return for his various work with Times Records. ("Slim" was not very impressed with The Nutmegs, and Wayne taught him the historical value of the group that had been so important in 1955 with "Story Untold"). "Slim" felt the recordings that had no musical background needed to be highlighted as such, in part to make sure they weren't returned by customers, and in part to show the difference they represented compared to "normal" vocal group recordings.

Hello - by The Nutmegs

They spent weeks kicking the ideas around, with Wayne voting for various names such as "Subway Sounds", and others. Finally "Slim", who wanted to press the records, opened a dictionary and found a' capella, the "high class" term used for operatic type music done without background. It was decided that if this was what it was going to be, then it would be changed to a word that didn't even exist: Acapella. And so, the word and the style was born, and the label company was called with the copy for the first releases.

This was the beginning of "Acapella", and the start of this word meaning "rock n' roll or r&b vocal groups". (As Wayne likes to point out, the first releases were put in the Italian section of many record stores, who assumed they were foreign records.). ".....we started something that we didn't intend to start....and I still think the name is wrong........but it's way too late to do anything about it..........".

Wayne produced a tremendous amount of acapella material, and by the end of the 60's, he had produced over 80% of all the acapella released by that time. This included recordings by The Quotations, The Chessmen, Nicky and The Knacks, and so many more. Wayne wrote many acapella songs, including "It Was Acapella Music", which was the first song ever written about acapella. (1965).

For more bio / info on 
Wayne Stierle click on pic here:


Chapter 2 - "The Money"
Slim Rose

The Times Square Record Shop, located down one flight of steps at the corner of Broadway and 42nd Street in New York City, was instrumental in a revival of the vocal group harmony sound in the early 1960s. This is where many of today's record collectors started and built their collections. Irving "Slim" Rose was the owner and also worked behind the counter. 

The rarer records, hanging on the famous "wall", would sell for more than the usual $1 (up to $5 or $10). The store was opened in 1960 and closed in 1965, when the collecting craze cooled down. To promote his store, Slim hosted a weekly radio show, where he would play records and quote their price or how much one could receive in credit for bringing them in to the store.  Slim financed the first acappella recordings on his label.

For more bio / info on 
Slim Rose click on pic here:


Chapter 3 - "The Students"
Donn Fileti - Eddie Gries

Inspired by Irv "Slim" Rose's fabled Times Square Records, Relic was started in 1963 as a strictly 45 label specializing in R&B vocal group harmony. (It wasn't ever called "doo-wop" until the early 1970s ... ) Relic's first album, "Best of Acappella, Volume One" (Relic LP 101, now reissued as Relic CD 7052), was released in February, 1965, and our 5000 LP series was launched with "The Harptones" in 1971. The selections on this CD compilation were all issued on Relic 45s in the sixties and early seventies. They are mostly a direct reflection of Relic founder Eddie Gries's personal taste; many of these records had been forgotten by everyone concerned when Gries and I bought or leased the masters for the growing young collector market.

Relic Records was an offshoot of Eddie Gries's pioneering Relic Rack retail/wholesale oldies shop which opened for business at 116 Main Street in Hackensack, New Jersey (about eight miles from Manhattan) in October, 1962. Gries started selling old 45s out of his car trunk while still a student at Montclair State College. He worked for one of Sam Goody's first retail outlets at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey and soon became their resident "oldies" expert. He worked part time for Joe Martin's hot new Apex Martin (Newark, New Jersey) distributorship and, with Martin's financial help and fatherly encouragement, set up Relic Rack and launched the Relic label. - Donn Fileti  June,1995 - Conversations with Eddie Gries
 For more bio / info on 
Donn / Eddie / Relic click on pic here:


Chapter 4 - "The Promoter / Manager"
Stan R. Krause

Stan started his Catamount Records label in 1964 with a neat R&B single by a girl group called the Juliettes ("Pretty Boy"/"Uncle Willie") and the Savoys, "Vision of Love"/"Oh Gee Oh Gosh").  In the early years, the label issued mostly doo wop acappella records, but in later years branched out into soul, disco and even funk music   Skip Jackson, former lead singer of the Shantons played a major role in writing and producing many of the Catamount releases until his death in 1982. 

Stan Krause and his Catamount Records label helped launch the musical careers of groups like The Persuasions, 14 Karat Soul, The Royal Counts, Vintage, and The Heartaches.  

Other groups that recorded on the Catamount Records label are: Blue Steam / Formula 12, The Bon-Aires, Calvin and the Catamounts, Concepts, Copas, Cordials, Chris and the Cytations, Del Capris, Destinaires, Five Fashions, Fortells, Greenville, Jacksontones, Meadowbrooks, Metroliners, Mirror's Image, Mixed Company, Pams, Sounds of Excitement and the Surperbs.

Running a popular record store, Stan understood the wants of record collectors and so many Catamount releases were pressed in limited runs of colored vinyl as well as black vinyl.

 For more info on 
Stan R. Krause click on pic here:


Chapter 5 - The Kings Forever
The Persuasions

Up until 1966, most of the acappella groups that performed snapped their fingers and sang.  Then came The Persuasions.  I remember being in Stan's Record Shop and talking about the show.  He said he had a new group coming in from Brooklyn.  He laughed with a smirk on his face and said they would kick ass.  I said no one is going to kick the Counts ass.  He just smiled with that shit eating grin.   The JCNJ State Theater Show that changed Street Corner Acappella.  

This video here - - is a PBS performance right after the 1966 Show.  As far as I know there is only a recording on their 1966 State Theater Performance.

 For more bio / info on
The Persuasions click on pic here:


Chapter 6 - The New Guy
Ronnie I - UGHA

In 1972, Ronnie I, with help from  mentor Wayne Stierle, started Clifton Records. more.....

In 1976, The UGHA was Founded by Ronnie Italiano and Stan R. Krause, with a little help from Wayne Stierle and a few others.....

 For more bio / info on 
Ronnie I click on pic here:


Chapter 7 - The TV Stars
Fourteen Karat Soul

I am including Fourteen Karat Soul is this history because of SNL and Japan /

 For more bio / info on
Fourteen Karat Soul click on pic here:


Chapter 8 - The Last Producer
Starlight Records / Bob K

Working on this section


Chapter 9 - The Last of the Best
Quiet Storm

Kamau Akiba, Martin Bentley, Richard Hidlebird and Vincent Tucker

Quiet Storm, from Philadelphia, began in the spring of 2007. Started by Kamau "Smitty" Akiba, Quiet Storm's intention was to bring back music that speaks about love situations from the heart.  Initially, the group started rehearsing in members homes, on porches, subways, and shopping malls, until settling down at Columbia Rehearsal Studios. Over the first six to nine months, the membership fluctuated with personnel changes for a variety of reasons. However, in the winter of 2007 the perfect mix of members emerged! 

No One
Daddy's Gonna Tell You No Lie
Farewell My Love
My Autumn Love
Sixty Minute Man
I Only Have Eyes For You
Ten Commandments of Love
Baby Please
This I Swear


June 5, 2009

Live on WVLT Vineland NJ

While Walking

Cry Like I Cried

I Only Have Eyes For You

If I Should Lose You

I'm Coming Home

Sure As The Flowers

My Autumn Love

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

Ted Ziffer and Quiet Storm - Would You Still Be Mine 

* Ted Ziffer was with the original Chessmen in the beginning

Quiet Storm performed for another 10 or so years with some personnel changes.  This is their last performance I could find on YouTube.

2017 - If I Remember To Forget

References and Thanks


Draft - Draft - Draft - Draft


My notes:

also the original beaudaddy page

1971 - Persuasions sign with Capitol.

1974 Bonaires

1974 back in NM. Hot Lix KUNM, Ghetto KUNM,

1976 - 2008 UGHA Ronnie I.

2010 - TNT R&R Party

1985 Caddies to UGHA

Rich Z - Tommy G

My Bio

Why this online book.