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Al Frazier, 75; Member of West Coast-Based Vocal Group the Rivingtons

November 20, 2005|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Al Frazier, 75, a member of the West Coast-based vocal group the Rivingtons, whose "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" and "The Bird's the Word" were novelty hits in the early 1960s, died Nov. 13 in Las Vegas, where he had lived since 1985, his wife, Pauline, said.

The group's other members were Sonny Harris, Rocky Wilson Jr. and Carl White, who died in 1980. Using other names, it had previously backed up Paul Anka, Duane Eddy, Thurston Harris and others.

According to the Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Wilson came up with the phrase "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow," and the other group members loved it.

They wrote a song around it and recorded it on Liberty Records in 1962. It reached No. 48 on the Billboard charts.

"Yes, it was a nonsense song, but the members sang it with such spirit and elan that it wasn't a 'guilty pleasure' or embarrassing novelty record," All Music Guide's Bruce Eder wrote.

"Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" and "The Bird's the Word," which made the Billboard charts in 1963, were later used in the Trashmen's popular "Surfin' Bird."

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