The Medallions were formed by lead singer Vernon Green (b. Denver, Colorado, USA) in Los Angeles, California, USA, after record company boss Dootsie Williams commented on the quality of his voice as he was walking down the street one day. The rest of the group - Andrew Blue (tenor), Randolph Bryant (baritone) and Ira Foley (bass) - were built around Green’s strong vocal abilities, and took their collective name from their leader’s fondness for jewellery. Williams was as good as his word and signed the group to Dootone Records, a relationship that began with the release of ‘The Letter’. The b-side, ‘Buick 59’, was particularly well received on Los Angeles radio, and started a trend of naming singles after car types (‘Coupe De Ville Baby’, ‘59 Volvo’, etc.). Willy Graham replaced Andrew Blue, while the group expanded to a quintet in 1955 with the addition of Donald Woods. However, the group broke up after the release of their third single, ‘Speedin’’. Abandoning Green, the other four members formed the Vel-Aires and signed with Flip Records. Green responded by putting together a new Medallions featuring Kenneth Williams and Frank Marshall, issuing ‘Only For You’. This formation did not last, however, and Williams then placed Green as singer with another of his groups, the Dootones (who shared the name of the label). They were still titled the Medallions, but their first release together was as back-up group to Johnny Morisette on October 1955’s ‘My Pretty Baby’. However, a month later they debuted in their own right with ‘Dear Darling’, then ‘I Want A Love’. Their next release saw their billing extended to Vernon Green And The Medallions. They released three singles for Dootone’s Dooto subsidiary between 1956 and 1957 in this manner. None of these singles, which again featured fluctuating line-ups, were successful. Green left to form the Phantoms, a masked group who recorded briefly for Specialty Records, but then returned in 1957 to front another version of the Medallions. Five further singles emerged (three for Dooto, one for Minit and one for Pan World Records), while the band continued to tour widely. The most interesting of these singles was the second, ‘Magic Mountain’/‘59 Volvo’. The latter track was expressly commissioned by a local disc jockey whose brother owned a Volvo dealership. The band was then put on hold for nine years following an automobile accident that incapacitated Green. He returned to front the Medallions for a final 1973 single for Dooto, ‘Can You Talk’, and again in 1989 at the inaugural Doo-wop Society show.
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