People & Places
MADARA & WHITE
A Brief History
One night in 1956, an event occurred in Southwest Philly that would prove to have a profound
impact on the world of rock and roll. Johnny Madara, a recording artist with a chart record,
heard the compelling voices of some street corner singers as they drifted through his bedroom
window. By the next day, he’d discovered that the group was called “The Juvenaires,” that they
were formed and headed by Dave White, and that they were already performing at local church
dances, nightclubs and talent shows. A partnership was quickly formed between Madara and
White, and history was in the making.
That same year, John and Dave wrote a song called “Do The Bop.” On the advice of Dick Clark,
who had just gone national with American Bandstand, the title and the lyrics were changed to
“At The Hop," Dave and his renamed group, “Danny and the Juniors,” recorded it, and by
Christmas of 1957, it has reached the top of the charts. The song had an astounding impact on
the youth of the 50s, and has had a compelling effect on every generation since. Even today,
the mere mention of “At The Hop” conjures instant worldwide recognition of all that the song
symbolizes – the birth of rock and roll…the innocence of youth…the carefree, magical days of
When I met Dave White I was 19 years old and he was 16 years old. We hit it off right away. We used to sing hit songs together, getting to know each other musically and what we liked. We were two young boys with fertile minds. Dave was like a younger brother to me. I think he respected the fact that I had a hit record out. When I was married, he would come over to our house, hang out, and have dinner with us. One thing I remember about Dave in those early years was that he always needed shoes.
After Danny and the Juniors' success, Dave went on the road for two years. I opened up a record shop in the black section of town. I would go out to promote records at local record hops, which is where Dave and I met up again. Dave was tired of going on the road and wanted to stay put for a while. He began coming to my record shop and we started
to write songs together. I had a piano in the back room. I would bring artists in and Dave and I would write songs for them.This is where we met Maureen Gray. There was a group called Carl and the Commanders who was our house band. They did back-up for Maureen and also played on many of our other songs.
Dave and I wrote over 280 songs together. We complimented each other and respected each other's individual talents and contributions. Although our careers would go in different directions, Dave and I continued to keep in touch. It's impossible to express my deep affection and respect that I have for Dave. We could never have had the success we
had without each other. I am grateful for that and proud to have called him my friend.
What Happened Next?
What followed “At The Hop’s” enormous success were years of other hit songs that would be recognized not just for their meteoric rise in the charts, but also via inclusion in many feature films and TV shows and through the performances and recordings of other artists and celebrities. Among the many mega-hits contributing to more than 200 million in sales of Madara & White records have been “Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay” (Danny and The Juniors), “The Fly” (Chubby Checker), “1-2-3” (Len Barry) and “You Don’t Own Me” (Lesley Gore). And while Madara & White songs have appeared on some of the biggest grossing soundtrack albums ever via such feature films as “American Graffiti,” “Grease,” “Dirty Dancing,” “Hairspray,” “Woodstock”, and “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” it was the 1996 hitfilm “The First Wives Club” that paid the contemporary power of their talent the ultimate compliment by not only featuring “You Don’t Own Me,” but by making it the theme of the movie.
John and Dave, along with screenwriter, Michael Killeen, wrote a feature film, "At The Hop," which John is currently pursuing investors for the movie.