The rise and fall of Danny & The Juniors.

Danny Rapp — After the hop, a lonely death

The rise and fall of Danny & The Juniors

Everybody was dancing and having fun

Everyone but Danny Rapp

In 1957, superstar DJ Dick Clark booked Danny & The Juniors on his national television show American Bandstand. Danny Rapp was just sixteen.

The four teenagers sang ‘At The Hop’ — and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Lonely death of Danny Rapp

The doo-wop song was a worldwide hit, selling millions of copies and bringing instant fame to four young guys from South Philly.

The band had two more big hits, ‘Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay’ and ‘Twistin’ USA.’ They released several singles in the 1960s but never had another hit.

In the 1970s, they capitalized on 1950s nostalgia by going on tours. They rerecorded ‘At The Hop’ in 1976.

Lonely death of Danny Rapp

In the years of fading popularity the band broke up and regrouped.

But it was all downhill and the guys had a hard time making it in the music business. Danny had a wife and kids and got a job driving a cab.

But never say die. In March 1983, Danny’s latest revamped band landed a month-long gig at a resort in Phoenix, Arizona.

They were booked to do two shows nightly through April 2. The former doo-wop sensation of the 1950s and ‘60s was paid $1,000 a week.

Lonely death of Danny Rapp

Over the years Danny had turned to booze to ease the pain of a dying career. He was hitting the bottle hard during the Phoenix gig.

He fell in love with a new female singer he had hired for the band, but she wanted to stay loose and free.

One time after the show he picked a fight with a guy in the bar who was putting the make on her. Hotel security broke it up. The girl packed up and left the band. And Danny checked out of his room at the resort. The band performed the last show without him.

On Saturday, April 2, 1983, Danny checked into the Yacht Club Motel in the small town of Quartzsite, Arizona, about 160 miles west of Phoenix. He bought a .25-caliber pistol from some guy.

Danny was last seen alive knocking them back in the Jigsaw bar near the motel. 

The next day, Sunday April 3, the maid found his body in the room. A bullet had been fired through the right side of the head.

The death was ruled a suicide. Danny was 41.

News story Danny rapp suicide

Back to the front page

6 thoughts on “Danny Rapp — After the hop, a lonely death

  1. Yeah that would’ve been cool. I guess the booze pushed him over the edge. It’ll do that.

  2. In 1983, when my wife and I were dating, we saw Danny’s version of “Danny & the Juniors” at a small lounge in Omaha (at that time there was another group with the same name but with another original D&TJ member fronting it). The show that night would turn out to be one of Rapp’s last performances.

    After the show, he was sitting in the bar when we walked up to him and introduced ourselves. We thanked him for his music and told him the show that night was wonderful. He cracked a smile and said “Thank you” but seemed like he didn’t believe us.

    I’ll never forget that look in his eyes, a sadness I had never seen before.

    Rest in peace, sir.

  3. What a poignant and bittersweet recollection. I can imagine how that look in his eyes would haunt you. Thanks for sharing that memory.