Saturday, August 09, 2008

Erik Darling of The Tarriers and The Weavers Dead at 74

Erik Darling, who sang with the Tarriers and the Weavers and had a #1 hit with his Rooftop Singers with "Walk Right In", died Saturday (August 2)of Burkitt's lymphoma in a hospice center near Chapel Hill, N.C. He was 74. Born in Baltimore in 1933 (he grew up in Canandaigua, New York), Erik moved to New York City in the late '40s to sing folk music. He formed the Tarriers in 1955, first charting as a backup to Vince Martin on "Cindy, Oh Cindy" (#9-1956) then on their own with a unique adaptation of "The Banana Boat Song" (#4-1957). Erik moved on to replace Peter Seeger in the Weavers in 1958, but the blacklisted group was well past it's ability to chart. In 1962, he left to start a solo career and released the album "True Religion". An aspiring singer named Lynne Taylor sent Erik a recording of her singing harmony to the album that impressed him enough to form a folk trio with Lynne and his friend, Bill Svanoe. Erik ran across a 1929 tune by Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers called "Walk Right In" that he felt would be the perfect song for the new group, which he named the Rooftop Singers. It was. The song went to #1 in early 1963, and soon the group was playing the Newport Folk Festival and touring Australia. "Tom Cat" later that year got to a respectable #20 but "Mama Don't Allow" fizzled at #55 and, within a year, their chart hits were over. They did, however, record three well-received albums-- the last with Mindy Stuart replacing Lynne. The group disbanded in 1965 and Erik continued as a solo singer and banjo player, moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico in the '80s.