WALLY ROKER, mainstay of doo-wop group, THE HEARTBEATS (Wally is pictured second from left in our group photo) died on 2nd December in Los Angeles…. he was 78 and had been suffering with heart problems.
The Heartbeats were a classic doo-wop group who were formed in 1953 in Queens, New York as “The Hearts”. Roker was the all-important bass man while the lead vocalist was James “Shep” Sheppard who joined after they’d extended their name (it seems there was already a group of female singers called The Hearts). The Heartbeats recorded for a number of labels but disbanded in 1959 when Sheppard went on to from Shep and the Limelites. The Heartbeats’ best known song is ‘A Thousand Miles Away’ which is featured in numerous doo-wop compilations.
Roker went on to work in music promotion working for labels like Scepter and TK Records and he even ran his own label, Roker. For a time he was the manager of Tower Of Power before eventually becoming Director of Music marketing for the Doo-Wop Hall of Fame in Los Angeles. The Heartbeats were amongst the first inductees.
In 2003 the Heartbeats reformed for a Rock and Roll tribute broadcast. It also marked their 50th anniversary.