Monday, February 6, 2012

BHM 2012 The Platters

The Platters' MY PRAYER was the first Number One hit by an African-American group in the Rock Era (which historians agree began in July 1955 when ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK went to Number One). It hit Number One in August, 1956 and stayed there for two weeks.

The Platters were formed in early 1953. They consisted of Tony Williams, Herbert Reed, David Lynch, and later Zola Taylor and Paul Robi. Their first national hit was in 1955; a song I had to sing for karaoke in Japan dozens of times: ONLY YOU. I first heard this song on the "American Graffitti" sound-track, and I have loved it ever since. This clip is from the movie, "Rock Around the Clock."

Then they had another huge hit, THE GREAT PRETENDER, which is a classic of the whining-pining love song genre. It's probably my favorite of their songs. Finally, in early 1958, they recorded Georges Boulanger's French song, AVANT de MOURIR, with English lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy, produced by Buck Ram, and it went all the way to the top.

In April 1958 lightning struck again when The Platters had their second Number One hit, TWILIGHT TIME. Then in late 1958 their most popular song made its debut: SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES. This was originally written by Jerome Kern in 1933 for the musical "Roberta." The Platters' producer re-arranged it a bit and it hit Number One in the middle of January 1959 and stayed on top for three weeks.

However, in August 1959 the male members of The Platters were arrested in Cincinnatti on morals charges, accused of using drugs and paying for prostitutes. Although the case was thrown out of court, the damage was done. They never had another hit record.

Now enjoy their first Number One (which one could argue is not their best-known song!) to a video with plenty of stills of....The Platters!

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