Dante and the Evergreens comprised a Southern California group which scored with one big hit song in the early 60's.
Dante is Donald Drowty, who sang lead for the group. The other members consisted of Bill Young, Frank Rosenthal, and Tony Moon. Drowty, Young and Rosenthal were students at Santa Monica College when they formed the group in 1959. They were acquaintances of Dean Torrence, who as part of the singing duo Jan & Arnie had put two records in the top ten in the late 50's (and who would later meet success as recording stars Jan & Dean). Torrence brought the fledgling group to the attention of record producers Herb Alpert and Lou Adler. These producers brought Moon in to accompany them on guitar, and to serve as the arranger on their recordings. They were signed to a contract with the Madison label.
Dante and the Evergreens proceeded to record the Dallas Frazier composition Alley Oop in the Spring of 1960. Gary Paxton had assembled a group which included Frazier and himself, which he called the Hollywood Argyles, and they had recorded the original version of Alley Oop. There was also a third recording by a similar group known as the Dyna-Sores. Frazier had been inspired by the comic strip of the same name about a caveman and his whereabouts. It was a novelty song and the versions by both Dante and the Evergreens and the Hollywood Argyles entered the charts on May 30, 1960. Both proved to be big hits. Both went to #1 on the Cash Box chart, Paxton's version made #1 on Billboard while Drowty's settled at #15 on that chart, and the Dyna-Sores charted with it, but fell short of the top forty. Dante and the Evergreens had a hit.
The group was popular for a while, particularly on the East Coast, where their version of Alley Oop outsold the original version of the song which had been recorded by Paxton's group. Dante and the Evergreens was a white group that played at some of the venues that were popular with black music lovers, such as the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. They stayed together for several more years, recording and touring. They had another minor hit with Time Machine. Eventually the various members would pursue other interests, disbanding in 1964. Don Drowty formed another group and recorded as Dante and His Friends.
Bill Young pursued a career as a solo act, and in acting. Frank Rosenthal returned to college and eventually became a successful Beverly Hills attorney. Tony Moon went on to a career as a record producer in Nashville. And Don "Dante" Drowty worked for many years as a songwriter and producer at Mellin Music Publishing Company, producing records by various artists such as the Isley Brothers and the McCoys.
Drowty in his later years has been active in numerous charitable events on the West Coast. He collects various donated items -- shoes, toys, clothing -- and distributes them to those in need. He has provided music lessons and other services to Native Americans. Drowty directs much of his charitable work through his Project Touch organization, and he has retained his friendship over the years with Alpert and Adler.
Dante and the Evergreens are remembered by fans of 60's pop music for their huge hit from 1960 Alley Oop.
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