Effective period / Period of releases: 1962 - 1969
Members: Erik Darling, Willard Svanoe, Lynne Taylor, Mindy StuartAmerican folk band. The Rooftop Singers was an American progressive folk singing trio in the early 1960s, best known for the hit "Walk Right In". Darling put the group together in June 1962 specifically to record an updated and uptempo version of a 1920s Gus Cannon folk blues song, "Walk Right In". The trio recorded the song for Vanguard Records, with updated lyrics and an arrangement featuring paired 12-string acoustic guitars. The record became the most successful in Vanguard's history.
The album containing this song was also called "Walk Right In" and was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category Best Folk Recording. The group differed markedly from The Weavers and most of the popular folk trios of the era, being far more influenced by blues and jazz, as well as less profoundly earnest in its political sensibilities.
In being more musically complex than most folk groups, the trio favoured understated melodies sometimes and emphasised their blues roots at others, particularly in the sly and lyrically suggestive "Tom Cat". Indeed, it was their musical eclecticism and willingness to be suggestive that got "Tom Cat", their second single, banned from conservative radio stations and prevented them from capitalizing on their breakthrough hit.
The group played at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963. Yielding to pressure from her husband (Skip Weshner), Taylor left the trio shortly after Vanguard released its second album, "Good Time!". Darling and Svanoe recruited Mindy Stuart to replace her. This line-up recorded one final album, "Rainy River". But the Rooftop Singers suffered without Taylor's jazz phrasing and harmonic ideas, and the group never regained its footing musically, critically or commercially. Patricia Street replaced Stuart shortly before the Rooftop Singers formally disbanded in 1967. Darling and Street continued working as a duo into the early seventies, recording the album "The Possible Dream" for Vanguard.
There was even an abortive attempt to turn the latter-day incarnation of The Rooftop Singers into something more relevant to 1965 as Project X, that is, electric folk or folk rock.
Erik Darling was a member of two other successful groups: The Tarriers and The Weavers, prior to forming The Rooftop Singers.