Larry Chance, Who Helped Keep Doo-Wop Alive for Decades, Dies at 82

Larry Chance, whose Bronx vocal group the Earls was probably the most enduring acts of the doo-wop period, serving to to maintain alive the vocal harmonies, rhythmic syllables and onomatopoeic lyrics that had as soon as been improvised on metropolis avenue corners and in subway stations, died on Sept. 6 in a hospital in (*82*), Fla. He was 82.

His daughter, Nicole Chance, stated the trigger was problems of lung most cancers.

Larry Chance and the Earls have been distinguished as a lot for their longevity — the group started in 1957 because the High Hatters, and Mr. Chance was nonetheless performing in its newest incarnation this 12 months — as for their hits, a few of which turned doo-wop anthems.

The first doo-wop teams have been Black, however there have been white artists within the combine virtually from the start. The Earls have been among the many first.

“The Earls unknowingly became the forerunners of white doo-wop groups who took standards done by rhythm and blues balladeers and brought them to the attention of a new generation,” the music historian Jay Warner wrote in “American Singing Groups: A History From 1940 to Today” (1992).

Among the group’s hottest information have been “Life Is But A Dream,” (1961), a tune first recorded by the Harptones, a Black doo-wop group, in 1955; “Never” (1963), an up-tempo torch tune; and, most notably, “Remember Then” (1962), which, with its distinctive chant of “Re-mem-mem, re-mem-ma-mem-ber,” reached No. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and have become a staple of oldies radio.

“Life Is But a Dream” was a success on New York radio and prompted invites for the group to look with the disc jockey Murray the K at the Fox Theater in Brooklyn and on Dick Clark’s fashionable tv present “American Bandstand.”

The Earls’ signature tune later turned the ballad “I Believe,” whose inspiriting lyrics start, “I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows/I believe that somewhere in the darkest night, a candle glows.”

The Earls’ 1965 recording of “I Believe” was removed from the primary; it had earlier been recorded by, amongst others, Mahalia Jackson, Elvis Presley and Frankie Laine, who had a success with it in 1952. But it turned an everyday crowd-pleasing finale at the Earls’ stay exhibits. The group devoted its recording to Larry Palumbo, an early member who died in 1959 in an accident when he was within the Army.

“I Believe” was an illustration of the music executive Hy Weiss’s religion within the group: Their demo model was launched as the finished grasp.

Mr. Weiss, who had supplied the group a contract together with his imprint Old Town Records shortly after listening to “Remember Then,” additionally figured within the transformation of Lawrence Figueiredo into Larry Chance. It occurred simply earlier than “I Believe” was launched.

“Hy Weiss wanted him to step out front,” Mr. Warner wrote, “and though Figueiredo was reluctant, Weiss and his super salesmanship convinced him to take a chance when he said, ‘I’m gonna call you Larry Chance.’”

The drummer Bobby Tribuzio, in a telephone interview, characterised Mr. Chance, with whom he carried out for six many years, as “a singer’s singer.” He was additionally a flexible entertainer (his solo exhibits included comedy) and wrote songs, together with was “Get On Up and Dance (The Continental),” which he wrote with Jimmy Fracassi and the Earls recorded in 1976.

When doo-wop’s reputation declined within the early Seventies, the group tailored by briefly changing into a nine-piece rhythm-and-blues ensemble known as Smokestack. They resumed performing because the Earls in the course of the subsequent doo-wop revival.

In the Eighties, Mr. Chance additionally voiced the provocative radio characters Geraldo Santana Banana and Rainbow Johnson on Don Imus’s WNBC radio present.

His final public efficiency was in June at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, N.Y., the place he sang “Stand by Me” as a duet with the singer, songwriter and music historian Billy Vera. Mr. Chance’s final recording was a duet of the identical tune with Mr. Vera in 2022.

Lawrence Figueiredo was born on Oct. 19, 1940, within the Bronx and raised in South Philadelphia — a neighborhood that additionally spawned the opera singer Mario Lanza, in addition to Larry’s pop-music contemporaries Fabian, Frankie Avalon and Chubby Checker.

His father, John, owned a development firm. His mom, Mary (Pedra) Figueiredo, was a homemaker.

At the age of 6, Larry was solid in an elementary faculty manufacturing of “The Baker and the Pie Man.”

“I was the baker,” Mr. Chance told Gene DiNapoli, an entertainer and podcast host, in 2020. “I got applause. I decided then that’s what I wanted to do with my life.”

The household moved again to the Bronx in 1955. Mr. Chance later took some jobs with masonry firms to get by, however he pursued a singing profession regardless of opposition at house.

When he informed his father he needed a profession in music, Mr. Chance recalled, “he told me, ‘Get a man’s job.’”

In 1957, at across the time he graduated from Evander Childs High School within the Bronx, he and 4 mates — Bob Del Din, Eddie Harder, John Wray and Mr. Palumbo — shaped the High Hatters.

They carried out at native venues and have been singing exterior the doorway to a subway station once they have been found by Johnny Powers, who recorded their model of “Life Is But a Dream” for his small Rome Records label.

Mr. Chance lived for many years in Sullivan County, N.Y., near the Catskills, the place he carried out in accommodations. He later relocated to Florida to be close to his daughter.

In addition to her, he’s survived by his spouse, Sandra; a son, Christopher; and three grandchildren.

As the lead singer of probably the most sturdy doo-wop teams, Mr. Chance understood from the start that expertise and luck weren’t sufficient. “Remember Then” was performed on the radio for the primary time in 1962 on a program whose listeners have been invited to telephone in and vote for the most effective of 5 songs.

“We had every kid in the North Bronx with a pocket full of dimes, and we just flooded that station with calls and won the contest,” he informed Anthony P. Musso, the writer of “Setting the Record Straight: The Music and Careers of Recording Artists from the 1950s and Early 1960s … in Their Own Words” (2007).

He acknowledged, although, that luck may need performed a task when the group was deciding on a brand new identify. They couldn’t afford to buy the tuxedos, canes, spats, toppers and different formal apparel they fancied to redeem their unique billing because the High Hatters, they usually couldn’t agree on what to name themselves.

“To make it fair, we stuck our finger in a dictionary and said whatever it falls on, that’s what we’ll be,” Mr. Chance informed Mr. Musso. “I always said I was happy that I didn’t put my fingers about a quarter of an inch up, or we would have been called the Ears.”

Jeff Roth contributed analysis.

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