The Ford Edsel became such a well-known failure, it’s difficult to remember that when it was launched in September of 1957 it carried high expectations. Its advanced technology and styling was meant to be revolutionary, so it’s easy to see why a singing group of the era would latch onto the name. But even though the Edsels generated a classic doo-wop hit with “Rama Lama Ding Dong,” the group’s success — like that of the car — was soon receding in the rear view mirror.
Unlike most of their doo-wop contemporaries, the members of the Edsels did not get together in a large city, but rather in the small town of Campbell in Eastern Ohio. But George Jones, Jr., James Reynolds, Marshall Sewell, and the Green brothers – Harry and Larry – still aimed for the big time when they formed their group in the late 1950s.
The guys went through a couple of names for their new combo, including calling themselves the Essos (after an oil company) before settling on the name of the new car that was getting so many headlines at the time. As it turned out, the group struck pay dirt with its debut for a small company called Dub Records, but it didn’t happen right away. “Rama Lama Ding Dong” (with the title transposed on the label – see it below) languished for a couple of years while the Edsels struggled to find career traction, with records like “Do You Love Me” and “Rinka-Din-Ki-Doo” falling far short of hit status.
But things changed for the better in 1961, when the Marcels had a huge hit with “Blue Moon” and DJs began looking for similar-sounding songs to play. By that time, the Edsels had managed to sign with Capitol Records, but had only minor success until the popularity of the group’s old record kicked things up a notch. Even though a couple of different versions were floating around, the record became a huge hit. Unfortunately, even though the group issued numerous records on songs like “Could It Be,” “The Girl I Love,” and several others, none did particularly well and the Edsels soon dissolved. But like many other groups of the era, various ex-members restarted things from time to time, and even now a version of the group is entertaining fans.