David White, ‘At the Hop,’ ‘You Don’t Own Me’ Songwriter, Dies

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David White, who as a teenager in Philadelphia co-founded the doo-wop group Danny & the Juniors in 1955, and wrote or co-wrote many of their hits including the #1 “At the Hop,” as well as “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay,” died March 16, in Las Vegas, Nev., where he lived. His death was confirmed by a daughter, Wendy Adamczyk. Though no cause of death was announced, White had been hospitalized last month. He was 79.

With John Madara, three years his senior, White co-wrote 1957’s “At the Hop” (with Artie Singer). The song was later famously performed by Sha Na Na at the 1969 Woodstock festival. White alone is credited for writing “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay,” a #19 hit for Danny & the Juniors.

As the Juvenaires in the mid-’50s, White, Danny Rapp, Joe Terranova and Frank Maffei performed at local events in the Philadelphia area. White and Madara, then a local producer, wrote a song called “Do the Bop,” which the Juvenaires recorded. Singer took the song to an influential local disc jockey, and soon-to-be host of American Bandstand, Dick Clark. Clark suggested changing the song title as well as the lyric, “Let’s all do the bop” to “Let’s go to the hop.” He convinced the quartet to rename themselves Danny & the Juniors.

In December 1957, they performed “At the Hop” on AB and the song took off.

The band’s namesake, Danny Rapp, died in 1983 at just 41.

The Madara-White songwriting team also wrote “The Fly,” a 1961 hit for Chubby Checker, “You Don’t Own Me,” a #2 smash for 17-year-old Lesley Gore in 1963, and “1-2-3,” a #2 hit for Len Barry in 1965, among others.

Watch Gore perform “You Don’t Own Me” on The T.A.M.I. Show in 1964

Related: See what else was a hit when “1-2-3” was topping the charts

With disc jockey Ray Gilmore, Madara and White formed a trio, the Spokesmen, in 1965, writing and recording “The Dawn of Correction,” an answer song of sorts to the Barry McGuire protest song, “Eve of Destruction.”

White was born to a show business family on November 26, 1939, in Philadelphia. At 19, he married Joanne Rody, then just 16. The couple, divorced, had three daughters, one of whom, Linda, passed in 2013. White is survived by his wife, Sandra, and his daughters, Wendy and Jody.

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5 Comments so far

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  1. olemedic
    #1 olemedic 19 March, 2019, 09:03

    Loved his songs, music will miss David White

    Reply this comment
  2. Jody
    #2 Jody 19 March, 2019, 23:43

    Thank you for the tribute to my dad. We miss him already. He was an amazing human being besides his musical accomplishments. Just to correct a few facts in your article- he passed away on March 16th, not 17th. Also, his legal name was always David White, although his biological father’s last name was Tricker. Finally, it was my sister, his daughter Linda who passed away, not Wendy.

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    • Greg Brodsky
      Greg Brodsky 20 March, 2019, 08:33

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write, Jody. (We’ve amended our obituary with your corrections.) We’re sorry for your loss and grateful for your dad’s many contributions to popular music.

      Reply this comment
    • Frances
      Frances 23 March, 2019, 16:45

      Jody, I am very sorry for your loss.
      I am Frances, and was the babysitter for you and your sisters when you lived on Hollywood St. in South Philadelphia as well as when the family moved to Cherry Hill. On more than one occasion, I would meet your Dad at his office on Broad Street and he would drive me to your home in Cherry Hill and I would get to spend the weekend with Mom and you and your sisters and Mom would drive me home, back to South Philly. She had a Mustang, I loved that car. I was in high school during this time, in two months, I will be 68.
      Over the years, I would think of all of you with many fond memories and wondered where life took all of you. I am very sorry to read that Linda passed. When I saw Dad’s obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday, it brought a tear or two to my eye as your parents were so kind to me. They took me to see Sonny and Cher at convention hall and Dad took me back stage to meet them and get their autographs, an evening I will never forget, as I guess you can tell.
      When I would think of you, I hoped that you remembered me and our time together, even though you were quite young.
      Please extend my sympathy to Wendy and tell your Mom
      I send warm regards. I do not know Dad’s current wife.

      Reply this comment
    • Andy
      Andy 22 April, 2019, 12:03

      Dear Jody,
      Larry Magid (Electric Factory Concerts) would like to make a donation in your dad’s name. What organization would the family prefer?

      Reply this comment

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