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Little Anthony & The Imperials

Little Anthony & the Imperials enjoyed one of the longest career runs of any doo wop group, adapting their honey-smooth style to fit the sweet uptown soul sound of the mid-'60s. Right from the beginning, Little Anthony's aching way with a ballad was the group's calling card, but their repertoire was balanced by more R&B-inflected dance tunes. Little Anthony was born Jerome Anthony Gourdine in 1940, and grew up in Brooklyn's Fort Greene projects. While in high school, he sang in a doo wop group called the Duponts, who recorded a single called "Prove It Now" in 1957. They disbanded after graduation, however, and Gourdine joined another group called the Chesters, which had been formed by his friend Clarence Collins (baritone) and also featured longtime friend Ernest Wright, Jr. (tenor); the other members were Tracy Lord (tenor) and Nat Rogers (bass). After a one-off single for Apollo, they landed a record deal with the End label in 1958, at which point their name was changed to the Imperials. ("Little Anthony" was later tagged onto the beginning by DJ Alan Freed.)

The Imperials' first single for End was the classic heartache ballad "Tears on My Pillow," a Top Five smash on both the pop and R&B charts. Little Anthony's dramatic interpretation was certainly helped in the public eye by his youthful-sounding voice and name, which recalled the recently popular Frankie Lymon. The single's B-side, "Two People in the World," was also something of a hit, making the Imperials one of the hottest vocal groups around. Landing a follow-up hit proved difficult, however; the group charted several singles -- "So Much," "Wishful Thinking," "A Prayer and a Juke Box" -- without even approaching their earlier success. Finally, the novelty dance track "Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop" caught on in 1960 and returned Little Anthony & the Imperials to the upper reaches of the charts (though it missed the Top Ten). The follow-ups "My Empty Room" and "Please Say You Want Me" flopped, however, and Little Anthony decided to try a solo career in late 1961.

The Imperials continued on with a new lineup of Collins, Wright, Sammy Strain, and George Kerr, the latter of whom was replaced by Kenny Seymour in 1962. Neither Little Anthony nor his erstwhile group had any luck on their own, and in late 1963 he returned to the fold, replacing Seymour. The next summer, the reconstituted Imperials signed with the DCP label, where producer/songwriter Teddy Randazzo made them a priority. His first effort with the group, "I'm on the Outside (Looking In)," reached number 15 on both the pop and R&B charts in 1964, reestablishing the Imperials as a commercial presence. The follow-up, "Goin' Out of My Head," was a smash, returning them to the pop Top Ten for the first time since "Tears on My Pillow"; it was covered quite often in the years that followed, and grew into something of a pop standard. The Imperials' streak of good fortune continued with the equally dramatic ballad "Hurt So Bad," another Top Ten hit that also became their second R&B Top Fiver in 1965. A couple of smaller hits followed later that year in "I Miss You So" and the pop/R&B Top 20 "Take Me Back."

Little Anthony & the Imperials continued to chart singles over the next several years, but only one -- 1969's "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" -- breached the Top 50 on either the pop or R&B sides. That same year, the group switched labels to United Artists, and Ernest Wright, Jr. departed to join singer Tony Williams' latter-day version of the Platters. He was replaced by a returning Kenny Seymour, who was in turn replaced by Bobby Wade in 1971, the year of the group's last chart single, "Help Me Find a Way (To Say I Love You)." Sammy Strain left in 1972 and wound up joining the O'Jays four years later; his replacement was Harold Jenkins. Little Anthony himself left the group a second time in 1975 to pursue solo recording as well as an acting career, which effectively spelled the end of the road; nonetheless, a Collins-led lineup did manage to score one last hit in the U.K., 1977's "Who's Gonna Love Me." Little Anthony became a born-again Christian in 1978 and subsequently recorded a gospel album, Daylight. Anthony, Collins, Wright, and Strain reunited in 1992 and toured the oldies circuit steadily thereafter. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Comments

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Take me back to this time when music meant something from the heart:)
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Reminds me of someone
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dragonlady60 8 8
One of my fave groups.ever
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SOME Of The Greatest Music!!!!
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Oldies but goodies
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what a handsome Man he has grown to become he looks sooo good.
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WHAT A REALLY GREAT GROUP,LOVE ALL THERE MUSIC.
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Enjoyed show on 5-2-15. He had his book for sale as well as CD's - He. stayed after the show to sign and photos- Great show and person.
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Im on the outside looking in...
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Van G Wilson,your a lucky guy! Have the best of times dude.
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BENDICIONES ,.-´+´-.,
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THESE GUYS WERE AND STILL ARE ONE OF THE BEST GROUPS EVER!!! WHAT AN INJUSTICE TO THEM THAT IT TOOK SOOOOO LONG TO ENSHRINE THEM INTO THE ROCK n ROLL HALL OF FAME.
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Take me

Was


Qwaback
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I have my ticket for May 2nd 2015 already for the. 7pm show at he Kirby Center, He will be there with the Imperials, and The Chiffons & Bobby Lewis.
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This is classic doo wop music at it's best. Thank you for the great sound & memories.
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l. always love little &
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Great voice!
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These Guyzzz this harmony are-not from here
Another Super-Star Another Planet
Invaders*978 * ~ 6 m 1 4 y ~
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he was one of my early childhood heroes
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No bio?
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crkelly1
There will never be another voice like Little Anthony's.
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I believe Little Anthony is still performing to this day... And he can still hit them notes....
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One of Porky's favorites Lil Anthony - Porky died Mar 2, 2014
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There still Alive
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I saw Little Anthony 7 times. A special thank you for giving my generation the opportunity to hold that someone special nice and close.
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Also Brooklyn fox first 100 got a 331/3 of the nights groups kids this days have no idea of what good sounds are
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I use to go to Murray the k world in Roosevelt field and saw the oldies ny
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Love the oldies they really know how
To sing

Karen
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I love it so many memories
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Esto es musica
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The radios need a station just for real oldies. Not the stuff now-a-days. Bring back the real music
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Have this cd right now. Anthony shepherd
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joeyd021948
Yes yes red or blue light and grinding it up.Joey. D. Bronx River projects.
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Love this music grew up on it brings back. Great time
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Outstanding
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holmesg14
One of the Best!!!!!!!! ! ! !
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Bring back the ole days love this song
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This side really takes me back, ole school but the best!
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Love this song
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bl11434
THIS IS HEART HEALING MUSIC SO MISS IT SO GLAD WE STILL HAVE IT. I AM 55 YOUNG AND STILL LOVE LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY PEACE,


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It doesn't get any better than this
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Love this song
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The Imperials Please Say That You Want Me is one of their BEST!!!!
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I have returned to the best moments of my teen years, and at 65 years of age am feeling young again! Thank you so very, very much.
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ljamison01
Saw them in Miami 1980. Fabulous!
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I miss this music...
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glad u r enjoying the music
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NO BIO--WHAT THE HE--IS UP!!!!!'
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From one baby boomer to another so glad we can hear OUR songs again.
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Two Kinds Of People In The World was there besaesong!!!
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