Johnny Moore

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A high-school janitor shares songwriting credits for the rare hit song title that actually describes the exact spot where a publishing royalty check may arrive, "At My Front Door." The complete title…
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A high-school janitor shares songwriting credits for the rare hit song title that actually describes the exact spot where a publishing royalty check may arrive, "At My Front Door." The complete title of this rhythm & blues smash from the mid-'50s -- covered by at least two-dozen performers over the ensuing years -- tells a different story. "At My Front Door"(Crazy Little Mama)" indicates that this song was about love, not money -- a realistic perspective considering how things turned out for the group that introduced the song, the El Dorados.

Johnny Moore was the custodian at Englewood High School on Chicago's south side in the early '50s. Like some kind of romanticized musical set in the era, vocal groups actually held forth in the hallways, presenting formidable obstacles for a worker armed with mop and bucket. The popular Moroccos also came out of this high school, but it was a unit named the Five Stars which attracted, literally, Moore's attention. He made time in his janitorial activities to manage and promote the group, eventually changing its name and bringing the combo to the attention of Ewart Abner, manager of Vee-Jay Records.

Abner, predictably, is the other name on the songwriting credits for the previously mentioned blockbuster. An earlier, quite devoted set of songs preceded the hit, however, "Baby I Need You" and "My Loving Baby." Listeners who are cynical concerning the actual aesthetic contributions of a record-company manager and a high-school janitor may turn to the adage "it's the singer not the song," yet in this case the hiring of an arranger from outside the record company's small circle of cronies seems to have been of most importance. "At My Front Door" was the record that actually opened up the national pop charts to Vee-Jay. For Moore's group, it represented more of an exit, however: while the El Dorados remained active as performers into the '80s, the group never had another hit.