The “Golden Hits Of The 60s” 

Main MenuConcept Refinement The Author..Wayne JancikGolden Age Of The 50sGolden Age Of The 60s1970s and There After7





(Paul Politti, Nick Curinga)

Del-Fi 4158

No. 9   June 26, 1961



David Caesar Johnson (b. June 16, 1934, Chicago, Il) began singing in church at a young age.  After high

school, “Little Caesar” joined the Air Force. While doing his time in Alaska, he formed the Northern

Crusaders, a gospel group.  Back in civilian life, Caesar sang with the Ivory-Tones.


In 1958, Caesar moved to Los Angeles and recorded with the Cubans–Early Harris, Johnny O’Simmons,

Leroy Sanders, and a fellow remembered now only as Curtis.  (Peculiar, not one of these fellows was

Cuban.)   Johnson’s next group, the Upfronts, featured Johnson, Harris, Sanders, and Bobby Relf–later

claiming fame as half of Bob & Earl, creators of the original “Harlem Shuffle.”  The Upfronts cut two singles

for Lummtone Records–“It Took Time” and “Too Late to Turn Around”– but neither one made any serious

moves into the charts.


Caesar soon met a young tunesmith named Paul Politti, who had a tune in hand called “Those Oldies But

Goodies.”  Bob Keene at Del-Fi/Donna Records wanted Johnson’s group to do the number.  Little Caesar &

The Romans–Johnson, Harris, Sanders, ex-Cuban Johnny O’Simmons, and Carl Burnette–labored in the

studio for six weeks.  “Del-Fi didn’t want the typical black sound,” Johnson explained to Goldmine‘s Rick

Gagnon and Dave Gnerre.  “They were looking for a white sound to reach the crossover audience.”


“Oldies But Goodies” clicked, and is now considered an early rock classic; though totally unknown to

Millennials, a large pocket of those that preceeded.  Little Caesar & The Romans toured with Jackie Wilson,

Gary U.S. Bonds, and the Vibrations.  “Here were five black dudes all dressed up in toga and sandals,

wearing wreaths on their heads,” Caesar told Goldmine.  “It was a good gimmick, but we hated it at the time.

Not only did we hate the togas, we hated the song, too!”


Weeks later, they were back in the studio to cut an answer to the Olympics’ “(Baby) Hully Gully” called

“Hully Gully Again” (#54, 1961).  This would be their last charting.  Their third disk, “Memories of Those

Oldies but Goodies,” looked like it was going to take off, but Johnson claims that the group and Keene were

involved in a “financial dispute,” and that Keene failed to adequately promote the record.  Before Little

Caesar et al disbanded, Del-Fi issued two more singles (“Ten Com­mandments of Love” and “Yoyo Yo Yoyo”)

and an LP entitled Memories of Those Oldies but Goodies ( 1962).


Caesar sang solo at various L.A. night spots throughout the ’60s and early ’70s, and reformed the Romans in

1975.  For a six-month period in 1978, Rick­ie Lee Jones was even a member.  “She could sing black, white,

any style you wanted,” Johnson recalled.  The line-up has evolved considerably over the years, and as of

1988 included Johnson, Nathaniel Johnson (no rela­tion), Laurie Ratcliff, and Larry Tate.