It's been more than a half century since guys started gathering on street corners in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Detroit to sing close harmonies that became known as "doo wop." They gave themselves names like The Satins, The Monotones and The Flamingos and sang In the Still of the Night, Book of Love and a slow-dance version of the classic I Only Have Eyes for You that could make mortal enemies fall in love.
Many song styles have come along since then — rock, hip-hop, rap, heavy metal, grunge, ska — but doo wop has endured and still has legions of fans.
The Saints will bring their versions of those now-classic sounds to Richey Suncoast Theatre at 2:30 p.m. Sunday and during a monthly seven-show series from Oct. 23 through May 28, 2014.
"We'll do a regular show on April 21, our standard 'first' show of doo wop, Motown and blues," said Kenny Galeano, who founded The Saints in the 1950s in a Brooklyn church basement and has been singing with them or another group since then.
He relocated to Florida in 1988 and recreated The Saints, with the help of Jerry Frulio, another Brooklyn/Queens kid, who played drums with The Reflections (Rocket to the Moon) and the Jesters Four and moved to Florida in the early 1970s.
Members have come and gone since then, but Galeano and Frulio are still part of the group, along with Jerry Deleddo, who was born in Italy but grew up in Detroit, where he played guitar and sang baritone with The Continentals; Ed Gallaway, another Detroit boy, who sang with The Crystal Blend, the Detroit Chimes and the Laredos; and Andy Kachianos, from Queens, one of the original Saints who later sang with The Capris and as backup with Chubby Checker, Gloria Gaynor, and Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge.
"We do lots of medleys," Galeano said last week from the group's rehearsal studio in New Port Richey. At one time, the band played instruments as they sang. Now, Galeano records his own keyboard arrangements as accompaniment.
"I pick and choose, but I must be doing something right because I've been working since 1988," he said with a chuckle.
For the 2013-14 season, each show will be different, but there will be some songs repeated, Galeano said. "Like the Skyliners — people always want that." (Since I Don't Have You, This I Swear, Where Have They Gone?) Galeano also plans to lead the audience through the creation and history of doo wop and other styles.
"I know a lot of places to go: the early years of rock 'n' roll, how blues became doo wop, show what doo wop backed up which singles artists," he said. "We'll do a number of a cappella tunes, too."
Galeano said he and his group were drawn to Richey Suncoast by the late Charlie Skelton. "The whole concept of the theater is fabulous. (The concerts) are my way of giving back to music because music has been very, very good to me."
The theater is an appropriate setting, he said. "Singing is just like a play; if everybody does his job, it comes off very good."