In 1963 I was’t yet glued to the radio. So at the time I didn’t hear “Washington Square” by the Village Stompers. But in retrospect, it became one of my favorite instrumentals of the sixties. Sure, we had Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass and The Ventures, each with strings of instrumental hits, but this banjo prominent number rang my chimes.
The Village Stompers played mainly dixieland jazz and they hailed from Greenwich Village in New York City. “Washington Square” was their first and biggest hit. In 1963, it reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary Chart and #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart. “Washington Square” was at its peak when President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963. Other records that charted for The Village Stompers included “From Russia with Love,” “The Bridge of Budapest,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “Moonlight on the Ganges.”
This video was not easy to locate. I’d had my eye out for such a performance for about five years. This TV appearance on the “The Mike Douglas Show” is from 1967, four years after the hit. The best known incarnation of the band, from its earlier days, consisted of Dick Brady, Don Coates, Ralph Casale, Frank Hubbell, Lenny Pogan, Al McManus, Mitchell May, and Joe Muranyi. Frank Hubbell is present here playing the trumpet, but it seems the other original hit-makers had gone their separate ways.
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