It will be like your favorite diner jukebox has sprung to life.
The music of three legendary doo-wop and R&B groups is taking over the Savannah Theatre for four shows from Jan. 19-20. The Drifters, The Cornell Gunter Coasters and The Platters were three of the biggest vocal acts of the 1950s, with a string of hits that - even though they are "oldies" - never seem to get old.
It's not just nostalgia that keeps these songs alive. Jerome Jackson, current lead singer for The Drifters, has a pretty good handle on what makes this timeless music so enduring.
"The lyrics and the melody," explains Jackson. "They're down to Earth, you can understand them. They're innocent and they've got a lot of passion and love to them. Back in the time, people were into lyrics and feelings, so I think it's just the message the music brings."
The original Drifters formed in 1953 and are known for hits like "Under the Boardwalk," "Save the Last Dance for Me," "On Broadway," "There Goes My Baby" and "Up on the Roof." Although the group has seen many lineup changes, Jackson has been a member for 27 years. "We go all over the world with these shows and people just love it," he says.
The original Cornell Gunter Coasters formed in 1955 when two members of The Robins migrated from the West Coast to the East Coast, hence the name. Their hits include "Young Blood," "Yakety Yak," "Charlie Brown" and "Poison Ivy." Their influential songs have been covered by The Monkees, The Beach Boys and The Beatles.
The original Platters, named after the part of a record player the disc lays on, formed in 1952 and had 40 charting hits between 1955 and 1967, including "The Great Pretender," "Only You," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "Twilight Time." Three of their songs appeared on the "American Graffiti" soundtrack, which helped spark the "oldies" revival in the 1970s.
The three original acts were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame between 1987 and 1990. Their memorable and much loved songs live on through the current groups, which have been performing together for over 10 years at the Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
"I think it's a great combination and the main thing is the audience loves this combination," says Jackson. "So, as long as we make the audience happy, that's the cream of the crop right there. If you can make somebody feel good, that's what it's all about."
The music produced by these groups has had a profound influence on the history of rock 'n' roll. Although all three acts have seen their share of lineup changes, splinter groups, imitators and bogus acts using their names over the decades, rest assured that the groups appearing at the Savannah Theatre will sound as close to the original recordings as possible.
"It's going to be a great show," Jackson promises. "You can expect a lot of fun, laughter, participation, dancing. It's a good time for the whole family."
IF YOU GO
What: The Drifters, The Cornell Gunter Coasters and The Platters
When: 8 p.m. Jan 19; 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Jan.20
Where: Savannah Theatre, 222 Bull St.
Info: savannahtheatre.com, 912-233-7764