John L. Medora (born May 28, 1936), also known as John or Johnny Madara, is an American singer-songwriter and record producer who teamed up with David White and Arthur Singer to write the 1957 hit song "At the Hop".
He first recorded in 1957 with a hit single "Be My Girl", and later that year wrote a song called "Do the Bop" with Dave White. The "Bop" was a popular dance on the TV show, American Bandstand. On the advice of the host Dick Clark, the lyrics and title were changed to "At the Hop", and the song was recorded by Danny and the Juniors, becoming a US number 1 and international hit. He later co-wrote other hits including "1-2-3" for Len Barry, and "You Don't Own Me" for Lesley Gore.
In 1965, he and White co-wrote and performed, as the Spokesmen, the song "Dawn of Correction", an answer song to Barry McGuire's hit "Eve of Destruction". The song reached number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100. The pair also formed their own publishing company which was later sold to Michael Jackson. Madara also worked as a record producer, and discovered both Leon Huff and Kenny Gamble (Gamble and Huff), later a successful songwriter and producer attributed to pioneering the style of music known as Philly Soul, and the recording artist Hall and Oates.
He spent two years in Las Vegas working with one of the most successful performers of all time, Wayne Newton. He produced two of his albums and further produced and wrote songs for a Christmas television special for Wayne Newton on CBS. In the mid 1970s he moved to Los Angeles, and produced music for movies including Cinderella Liberty and Hey Good Lookin', as well as for television.
Songs have appeared on some of the biggest grossing soundtrack albums of all time, including American Graffiti and Woodstock ("At The Hop"), Grease ("Rock and Roll is Here to Stay"), Hairspray ("The Fly" and "You Don't Own Me"), Mr. Holland’s Opus ("1-2-3"), and Dirty Dancing and The First Wives Club ("You Don't Own Me"). It was the 1996 hit film, The First Wives Club, that not only featured "You Don’t Own Me", but it was used as the theme of the movie. On November 27, 2016, the song was announced to be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
The Juvenaires/Danny & the Juniors
In 1955, White formed a vocal group that he named The Juvenaires, of which he was a member singing first tenor. The other original members were Danny Rapp (lead singer), Joe "Terry" Terranova (baritone), and Frank Maffei (second tenor).
In 1957, David and John Madara wrote "Do the Bop" for the group. John, who had a chart record at the time called "Be My Girl" on Prep Records under the name of Johnny Madara, took The Juvenaires to his vocal coach/record producer, Artie Singer for an audition. Artie liked what he heard and scheduled a recording session at Reco-Art Studios in Philly to record "Do the Bop" and a ballad that David White had written called, "Sometimes (When I'm All Alone)."
At the recording session, The Juvenaires were told that they would be singing back-up for John, who needed a follow-up record. They complied but as it turned out, John's record company turned it down. Artie Singer took it to Dick Clark, who suggested that they call it "At the Hop" since the dance called the Bop was on the way out and the hops were what was happening. Artie took his advice and changed some of the lyrics to fit the new idea, becoming a co-writer on the song with David and John. A new recording session was scheduled at Reco-Art Studios with recording engineer/owner, Emile Corson. The trio of musicians consisted of Walt Gates on grand piano; Artie Singer on upright bass; and Jack O'Brian on drums. This time, The Juvenaires recorded the two songs while John Madara was in the control room overseeing the session.
The Juvenaires were renamed Danny & the Juniors, since it was a more contemporary name, and "At the Hop" backed with "Sometimes (When I'm All Alone)" was released on Singular Records; Artie Singer's label with partner DJ, Larry Brown. Payola was not illegal at the time and Artie reluctantly gave Dick Clark half the publishing of "At the Hop," which Dick later sold prior to the payola hearings in 1960.
"Sometimes (When I'm All Alone)" became a favorite of a lot of street corner groups just starting out, who later became successful, including The Capris, The Chimes, The Cleftones, The Rascals, The Del Satins, The Dovells, The Elegants, The Impalas, The Earls, Randy and the Rainbows, The Tokens, The Vogues, and Vito and the Salutations among others.
David was now attending Temple University on a full gymnastics scholarship, but when Dick Clark started playing the record, David left college, never to return, going over to Danny's house every week-day to watch American Bandstand. "At the Hop" skyrocketed to number one on the Billboard Chart, a position it would hold for seven weeks, breaking a record for vocal group chart position. It was also number one on the R&B chart for five weeks, and stayed in the top forty for eighteen weeks. "At the Hop" is featured in quite a few films, most notably, American Graffiti and Woodstock, (performed by Sha Na Na).
Singular Records could not handle the distribution of such a hot record so Artie sold the master to ABC Paramount Records. Danny and the Juniors' follow-up record was David's composition "Rock and Roll is Here to Stay," which went to number nineteen on the Billboard Chart and has become a rock and roll anthem. It is featured in the films Grease (performed by Sha Na Na) and Christine among others.
David White had several other chart records while with the group, including "Dottie" (#39 in Billboard), "Twistin' USA" (#27 in Billboard), "Pony Express" (#60 in Billboard), "Twistin' All Night Long" (#68 in Billboard), "Back to the Hop" (#80 in Billboard), "Doin' the Continental Walk" (#93 in Billboard), and "OO-La-La-Limbo" (#99 in Billboard).
David appeared with Danny and the Juniors in the 1958 film Let's Rock and while touring with them he appeared at The New York Paramount with Alan Freed and The Apollo in Harlem with "Jocko" Henderson. Some other appearances with the group include Patti Page's The Big Record, Merv Griffin's Saturday Night Prom, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, and Dick Clark's Saturday Night Beechnut Show.
White left the group in the early 1960s, but continued to appear and record with them occasionally til the early 1970s.