Brooklyn-based R&B vocal group the Mello-Harps formed in 1955. According to Marv Goldberg's profile in the April 1990 issue of Record Collectors' Monthly, co-founders Arnold "Johnny" Malone (first tenor), second tenor Joe Gowder, baritone Daniel "Bunny" Elder, and bass Ossie Davis were longtime friends from the borough's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. After adding a fifth member, high tenor Vernon Staley, the Mello-Harps began touring the local nightclub circuit, and while performing at Brooklyn's Club Baby Grand they negotiated a management deal with musician Larry Lucy, who quickly landed them a record deal with the Do-Re-Mi label. The Mello-Tones' beautiful debut, "Love Is a Vow," followed in the autumn of 1955. One of the scarcest singles of the doo wop era, it earned little attention upon its original release but later achieved cult classic status among R&B aficionados. By year's end Davis resigned from the lineup, and upon adding bass Bobby Hawkins (the brother of NBA Hall of Famer Connie Hawkins), the Mello-Harps signed to Tin Pan Alley Records to issue their sophomore effort, "I Love Only You." "What Good Are My Dreams" followed in early 1956, and when the group's commercial fortunes failed to improve, Elder exited in the wake of their fourth single, "My Bleeding Heart." Tenor William Brown signed on prior to cutting a re-recorded "Love Is a Vow" for the Rego label. Credited to the Teen-Tones, the song fared no better the second time around, and Staley was the next to turn in his resignation. Tenor David "Sonny" Forte signed on for 1957's "Gumma Gumma," a novelty tune that restored the Mello-Harps moniker. Despite saxophone contributions from the great King Curtis, the single went nowhere and after an aborted session for Juggy Murray's Sue label, the group split in 1959.
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