By Jill Diver
He has sung in 358 different singing groups, has been performing for 73 years, and at age 76, Billy Shelton is still going strong.
“I was singing when I was 3 years old,” Shelton said. “My mom was a choir director and my dad was a minister. I love music.”
He currently sings in seven different groups, including the local group “Mellow Moods,” with Priscilla Hudson and Ron Johnson of Bradford.
A four-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Shelton is best known for singing with “The Spaniels,” the Doo-Wop group that sang the popular song “Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight,” since 1948.
“Doo Wop Music is music from the 1950s and early 1960s,” Shelton said. “It is famous for its background music — there is a lot of oohs and waahs …”
On Friday, Oct. 29, Shelton and the Mellow Moods will be the special guest for Lee Lewis and The Doo Wop Allstars at The Galleria at Maria’s Restaurant in Haverhill.
Growing up in Oakwood Boulevard, a Chicago neighborhood, allowed Shelton to be exposed to influences like Sam Cook, “The Flamingos,” Diane Washington, Louis Armstrong, and Nat King Cole.
“I sang gospel music when I was 2,” he said. “I could hear anything on the radio and mimic it. I was like a little tape recorder. I was hopelessly lost in music. I had to sing. I wanted to be an electrician, but my life always gravitated toward the music.”
Shelton met Louis Armstrong as a child, and now performs his song, “Wonderful World.” He also performs a few of “The Spaniels” songs around Halloween.
“The ‘Monster Mash’ is my specialty,” Shelton said.
After singing for so long, one would think that inspiration might be hard to find. But that’s not the case for Shelton.
“When I was little, my mother, she was my inspiration,” he said. “Now, it’s the great people you meet and the camaraderie — music is such a universal language.
“When the common interest is music, it’s the glue, and I love to make people happy. It’s more important than the money.”
If You Go:
What: Lee Lewis and the Doo Wop Allstars, with special guest Billy Shelton and Mellow Moods
When: Friday, Oct. 29, at 8:30 and 10 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Where: The Galleria at Maria’s Restaurant, 8 Locust St., Haverhill
How: Tickets are $20. Call 978-521-1472, 603-548-1950, or 508-662-3100, or purchase tickets at the door.
This story ran in the Sunday, October 24, 2010 issue of the Eagle-Tribune Newspaper