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The Young Lions originally performed under the name, the Emeralds. When Richard Tepp saw the group perform, he was so impressed with the act, he joined the band, which resulted in changing their moniker to the Original Kounts. In addition to having a repertoire conceived of British Invasion cover versions, the band members became known as one of the more rebellious acts as a result of the bandmembers growing their hair long. After being discovered by Larry Brown, (a.k.a. L. Russell Brown) and Ray Bloodworth during a chance encounter in a Newark pizzeria and joining Bob Crewe Productions, the name was changed to Richard and the Young Lions. The core of the group consisted of Tepp (lead vocals and tambourine), Bob Freedman (rhythm guitar and vocals), Marc Lees (lead guitar and vocals), Norm Cohen (drums), Ricky Rackin (guitar and bass guitar), and Jerry Raff (piano).
The Young Lions managed to produce one minor hit with their song "Open Up Your Door". The composition was the first ever recorded using an African hair drum and a fuzz bass. It reached number one in Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Elyria, Ohio; and Salt Lake City, Utah; number two in Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, Canada; number three in Tucson, Arizona; and the Top 10 in many other cities in the US and Canada. Nationally, it peaked at number 99 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on September 24, 1966 and number 91 on the Record World Top 100 Pops chart on October 8, 1966. The corresponding Cash Box listing was at number 70 on October 22, 1966. The band made several television appearances including The Hy Lit Show and The Jerry Blavat Show out of Philadelphia, PA. They also appeared in the Detroit market on Robin Seymour's Swingin' Time show, out of Windsor, Ontario. A video of that appearance on Swingin' Time has survived to this day and can be found on line. And the band also made two appearances on the Upbeat TV show out of Cleveland, OH, hosted by Don Webster.
Their follow-up release, "Nasty", was chosen and released in late December 1966 and became a regional hit, but did not match the sales of their debut single. The Young Lions' final single, "You Can Make It" was released in February 1967 and received extensive radio play. However, the record company refused to distribute the single to the public, so "You Can Make It" failed to chart. The band sought to compose their own tracks, however they were no longer backed financially which led to their disbandment.
A documentary on the band was produced in 2004, entitled Out of Our Dens: The Richard and the Young Lions Story by James Hannon and Leon Leybs, and narrated by preeminent radio personality Pat St. John. It featured the group's history from their early days to their reunion shows in the early 2000s.
The Invaders, a punk group featuring the original singer from The Sonics, recorded a cover version of "Open up Your Door" (retitled "Open up Yer Door") in 1979. The Romantics, a hit pop group from the 1980s, recorded the same song, which appeared on their album, In Heat, and on two of their live albums. "Open Up Your Door" has also been covered by; Bill Kennedy's Showtime, The Raving Mojos, The Demolition Doll Rods, The Flakes, The Goldstars, The Hunchmen, The Stance, and The Future Primitives. And their song, "You Can Make It" was covered by Las Membranas.