Doo-Wop Classic “Sh-Boom” Fetches $399,500 At Auction

Royalty earnings of "Sh-Boom" soar with 157% Increase since 2020 capturing investor attention.
June 17, 2024

When American doo-wop group The Chords released their single "Sh-Boom" in 1954, little did they know that they'd be leaving a rock and roll legacy (even though the group was more into R&B).

"Sh-Boom" reached number two on the Billboard R&B charts and peaked at number nine on the pop charts, marking it as one of the first R&B songs to gain major crossover success on the predominantly white pop charts of that era. This was impressive considering that it happened during a time of racial segregation in the United States when it was almost impossible to break down racial barriers in the music industry.

The song was also covered by the Canadian group The Crew-Cuts, whose version was even more successful than the original when it charted in 1954. 

But the popularity of "Sh-Boom"  didn't end there. It was used in several movies including the 2022 psychological thriller “Don't Worry Darling,” and Pixar's animated film, "Cars" in 2006 when the neon lights were turned on at Radiator Springs.

"Sh-Boom" features a catchy, upbeat melody and rich vocal harmonies that are second nature to doo-wop style, which was considered innovative at that time. 

A Lot of Gibberish

Formed in the Bronx, New York, in the early 1950s, The Chords, composed of friends Carl and Claude Feaster (lead and baritone), Jimmy Keyes (first tenor), Floyd "Buddy" McRae (second tenor), and Ricky Edwards (bass), were signed to Atlantic Records subsidiary Cat Records.

McRae, who was interviewed in a documentary, recalled, "After Carl and his brother came along and that into the group, then he brought the idea to him about 'Sh-Boom' and Carl – he was our lead singer. He has a way of singing that he added a lot of stuff like boom-boom and bang-bang, and different things like that. I think that's what really started the whole 'Sh-Boom' thing." 

In another interview, he said, “When they talked to each other, they’d say ‘boom.’ They’d say ‘Hey, man, boom, how ya doin’.” First tenor Keyes also added, “‘Boom’ was the slang word. If you were standing on this block for five minutes, you’d hear that slang word fifteen times or more. We would take the ‘boom’ and make it sound like a bomb: ‘shhhhhh-BOOM’.”

How "Sh-Boom" Came to Be

The song initially appeared as the B-side to their original single, "Cross Over the Bridge," a Patti Page hit that Atlantic Records Vice President Jerry Wexler asked the group to record. "Sh-Boom," with its nonsensical gibberish, quickly caught the attention of the executives.

Los Angeles DJ Dick "Huggy Boy" Hugg, who was present at the demo, flipped over the vinyl and gave the song its unintentional debut. "Somehow we turned that song over, which is a standard of what Patti Page originally made, and it was at Atlantic Records, I believe. It was an instant hit. In fact, it stayed about two days because of the airplay. This was way back in the 50s, and we broadcast it from a big record store, and it just caught on."

McRae added, "[Hugg] liked 'Sh-Boom' so I think out of curiosity one night, he decided he would turn it over. And when he turned it over, it was just like a miracle happened. The people went wild, and the song took off like a rocket. And as we know, the rest is history."

Despite their groundbreaking hit, The Chords struggled to replicate their earlier success with subsequent releases and are often categorized as a one-hit wonder. In an article in The Saturday Evening Post in 1963, Jerry Wexler, commented, "We had one group - The Chords - that had a hit record for us in 1955 or 1956. It was called 'Sh-Boom.' It was #1. But of all their subsequent records, none sold. Now, I think one is a house painter, one is a pants presser, one is writing songs and one is trying to get back into the business as a singer."

But their influence, however, was lasting, as "Sh-Boom" continued to be covered and appreciated by various artists across different music genres.

Royalty Earnings Performance

Sound Recording earnings from "Sh-Boom" just sold last week on Royalty Exchange for $275,000, which is 11.09 times its value in the last 12 months. 

The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of the 35-track catalog stands at an impressive 32.06%, which reflects a robust growth pattern. This growth rate is significantly higher than the 75th percentile of all the catalogs analyzed.

From earning $13,554 in 2020, the royalties surged to $34,890 in 2023, up by 157%, which was driven mostly by international sales. Back in April, the songwriter's share of royalties sold for $124,500, which was 8.85 its last 12 months earnings.

Of all the tracks in the catalog, "Sh-Boom" has earned $19,038 in the last 12 months, followed by a 2007 remastered version with $5,754.

Streaming is the leading source of earnings for this listing with $13,539, followed by Sync with $4,554. The song has more than 160 million streams on Spotify alone. 

Interested in Investing? 

While these two catalogs that recently sold are not currently available on the Secondary Market, check out the asset details for both to see how investors battled it out to score big on the deals.  With the catalog’s dollar age of 69.74, there’s a more predictable and reliable revenue stream since the songs have been consistently generating royalties over a longer period. 

Royalty Exchange offers a lot of R&B and rock-and-roll catalogs that are up for auction today, so sign up as an investor to get started.

If you’re new to royalty investing, we’ve prepared this guide on Royalty Investing Made Easy. Discover why so many investors today are actively scooping up music catalogs as investments. 

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