The Medallions

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The Medallions
OriginLos Angeles, California, U. S.
Years active1954–1960s
occasionally later
Past membersVernon Green
Andrew Blue
Randolph Bryant
Ira Foley
Willy Graham
Donald Woods
Jimmy Green
Charles Gardner
Albert Johnson
Otis Scott
Billy Foster
Bubba (Buddha) Carter
Joe Williams
Jerome Evans

The Medallions were an American doo-wop vocal group led by Vernon Green (1937–2000).


The group formed in Los Angeles, California, United States, in 1954, after Vernon Green was heard singing on the street by Walter "Dootsie" Williams, the owner of Dootone Records. Green – who walked with a cane as a result of childhood polio – put together a singing group with three friends from Fremont High School, Andrew Blue (tenor), Randolph Bryant (baritone), and Ira Foley (bass), and named them the Medallions because of his own penchant for wearing medallions around his neck.[1] Their first release, "Buick 59", based on Todd Rhodes' double-entendre R&B recording "Rocket 69",[2] was one of the first releases on Dootone in September 1954.[3] It was backed with a ballad called "The Letter", which received extensive airplay in the region. "The Letter" contained the nonsense lyric, "the 'puppetutes' of love", which was later picked up by the Steve Miller Band as "the pompatus of love" and used in their song "The Joker".[4][5] The song also included the nonsense word "pismotality", invented by Green.[3]

Blue was replaced by Willy Graham, and Donald Woods joined to make the group a quintet. The group became a popular attraction in southern California, appearing on bills with stars such as Fats Domino, Percy Mayfield and T-Bone Walker.[3] The Medallions performed for the eleventh famed Cavalcade of Jazz concert held at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles which was produced by Leon Hefflin, Sr. on July 24, 1955. Also featured Big Jay McNeely, Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra, The Penguins and James Moody and his Orchestra.[6]

They continued to release singles on Dootone into late 1955, including "Edna", a favorite of Frank Zappa when interviewed on the Pop Chronicles documentary.[7][8] They also recorded with singer Johnny Morrisette, as Johnny Twovoice & The Medallions.[3] The original version of the Medallions then broke up.[1]

Green then joined forces with a different group, the Dootones, who were sometimes billed as the "New" Medallions, before forming a new version of the Medallions with his brother Jimmy Green (tenor), Charles Gardner (tenor, formerly of the Dootones), Albert Johnson (tenor), and Otis Scott (bass). Thereafter, there were numerous personnel changes in the group, with Vernon Green the only constant member, and the group became officially known as Vernon Green and the Medallions. Members included Billy Foster – who later, as Etta James' boyfriend at the time, received a co-writing credit for the song "I'd Rather Go Blind"[9] – bass singers Bubba (or Buddha) Carter and Joe Williams. In 1957, the group recorded for Specialty Records as the Phantoms, and Green also recorded with the Cameos. Green then returned to Williams' label, by then renamed Dooto Records, with a new line-up of the Medallions comprising himself, his brother Jimmy, Billy Foster and Joe Williams. The group, with a variety of line-ups, later recorded for the Pan World and Minit labels, continuing to release singles into the early 1960s.[1]

The group ceased to exist after Green was injured in a car accident in the mid-1960s, although he released a single, "Can You Talk", on Dootone as late as 1973.[3] Since the death of Vernon Green in 2000, the group has been occasionally reconstituted by his brother Jimmy Green, Billy Foster, Buddha Carter, and Jerome Evans, who have performed as the New Medallions.[5]




  1. ^ a b c Biography by Bryan Thomas at Retrieved 23 September 2013
  2. ^ Todd Rhodes' double-entendre R&B hit "Rocket 69",
  3. ^ a b c d e J.C.Marion, Shining On- The Medallions, 2003. Retrieved 23 September 2013
  4. ^ In Steve Miller's "The Joker," what is "the pompatus of love", The Straight Dope, October 25, 1996
  5. ^ a b Vernon Green & The Medallions at Retrieved 23 September 2013
  6. ^ “11th Cavalcade of Jazz – Wrigley Field July 24” Article Los Angeles Sentinel June 30, 1955.
  7. ^ Show 14 - Big Rock Candy Mountain: Rock 'n' roll in the late fifties. [Part 4] : UNT Digital Library
  8. ^ "Vernon Green & The Medallions - Edna". YouTube. 2009-02-14. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
  9. ^ Etta James and David Ritz, Rage To Survive, 1995, ISBN 0-306-80812-9
  10. ^ "Speedin' : The Medallions". Retrieved March 1, 2020.

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