24 Rock Around The World July 1977

Little Anthony & The Imperials

I was entered into a heated discussion concerning the lasting power of the groups and artists of the “Rock & Roll Era” when the thought occurred to me that certain people (who don’t know what they’re talking about) actually believe that most of the performers of the fifties have actually disappeared off the face of the earth. I’m not talking about groups still performing, I am talking about groups hitting the charts. Many groups way back in the early days of Rock, managed to stay on top well into the sixties and even the seventies.

There once was a group called the Four Lovers hitting the charts in 1 956 with their RCA recording of “You’re the Apple of My Eye” plus other regional hits. In 1961 they changed their name to the Four Seasons and the hits just keep on coming.

Anthony Guardine was the lead singer of the Duponts, recording for the Winley label, and gaining little success until 1957 when the group changed their name to the Chesters and started making noise on the east coast with their two records “The Fire’s Burn No More” and “Prove it Tonight.” But the best was yet to come. The Chesters moved to George Goldner’s End record company, and at his request, changed their name to The Imperials. In the summer of 1958, “Tears on my Pillow” put them in the Rock & Roll history books, but success was shortlived because in 1960, “Shimmy Shimmi Ko Ko Bob” was the end of the string. Little Anthony & The Imperials were one of those groups that staged an amazing comeback in 1964 with “I’m On The Outside,” “Goin’ Out of My Head,” “Hurt So Bad” and “Take Me Back.” With the exception of a few minor chart items, they haven’t hit strong since, but don’t think it isn’t still possible.

The Dells were originally known as the El Rays; in 1955 they changed their name and record label from Checker/Chess to Vee Jay. The group had some very popular regional hits until November of ’56 when

The O’Jays

“Oh What a Night” went national. It was a huge and lasting success that kept the group’s appearances coming, but no more hits came until the end of 1967 with “There Is” and “Stay in my Corner,” which was even bigger than it was thirteen years before. The Dells are still performing, still recording and waiting.

Eddie Levert hasn’t been waiting since 1965 but as the lead of the Mascots (recording for King records in the late fifties) he must have been frustrated as his quality recordings were getting nowhere. At the suggestion of disc jockey Eddie O’Jay they changed their name and the O’Jays have been a fixture of the popular scene since.

In writing on lasting power, James Brown has come a long way since being drummer for a group called the Famous Flames. The first record release for the group was an instant success in April, 1956; It was that long ago that “Please, Please, Please” was first thrashed through our radios. James has managed to stay on the charts since that time.

To change the subject, in the news department, Johnny Otis has informed me that he has finished 26 television shows that should be ready for syndication this fall. The program is called “Johnny Otis Presents Solid Gold,” and was recorded live with a dancing studio audience and an array of oldies performers ranging from the Penguins to Jan & Dean. Other performers include Little Caesar & The Romans, Bobby Day, Shirley & Lee and many others. Keep your fingers crossed that it will be shown in your area and take my word for it, when Johnny Otis does something he does it right or not at all. I for one am anxiously waiting for it.

Any questions? Write!

Little Walter gets his mail elo WBCN-FM, 5005 Prudential Towers, Boston, MA 02199-ed.

above: The Dells   below: James Brown and Orchestra