Hi, The Willows charted one of the most enduring songs of the early rock era. A doo-wop group formed in Harlem, New York. Members included Tony Middleton-lead, Richard Davis, Ralph Martin, Joseph Martin and Freddie Donovan. They started out in 1950 as The Dovers. In 1952 Tony Middleton joined the group. Their first recording was “LOVE BELLS” on the Pee Dee record label in 1953, recording under their new name The Five Willows. They would continue to record 3 more singles in 1953 on the Allen Records label and 2 for Herald Records in 1954.
In 1956 they changed names again, this time they were called The Willows. On April 7, 1956 on Melba Records their big hit “CHURCH BELLS MAY RING” entered the Billboard Top 100. The song was originally titled “CHURCH BELLS ARE RINGING” and after a month the record was re-issued with the title of “Church Bells May Ring”. The single was very successful as it climbed the pop chart to #62 and remained on the Top 100 for 11 weeks. The single was a huge hit on the Billboard R&B chart as it reached #12. “Church Bells May Ring” was also issued in the UK on the London Records label and became the groups only British release.
The Diamonds recorded a cover version of the song. Their version, which was done just like The Willows original charted on April 14, 1956 on Mercury Records, and climbed to #14 on the Billboard chart.
In 1961 the song was re-issued and reached the Billboard Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart, at #114. The Willows would not chart another Hot 100 hit. Joseph Martin passed away in 2005 at the age of 70 and Freddie Donovan also passed away in 1997. The Willows one hit is a doo-wop classic with its rockin’ rhythm and great vocal, the song is a standard in the doo-wop genre and another classic recording from “The Golden Era of Rock and Roll”.