The Platters, the group that put Mercury Records on the
map, were one of the most mellow, harmonizing groups of the 1950's. Even today, in
one form or another, the Platters are still performing in one group or another, some with
original members, others just want-to-be's. How did the Platters form and become one
of the most recorded groups in history, you might ask? Well here you go:
In January of 1953, four men went to Los Angeles to form a
group that would compete in local amateur shows and perform around the L. A. Area. This
early group consisted of Cornell Gunther, Alex Hodge, Herb Reed, and Joe
Jefferson. Their name was taken for the popular term of the day DJs had
for records, hence, The Platters.
With both Reed and Gunther switching on and off lead
vocals, the group won several amateur contests and appeared on The Ebony Showcase, a
television program. Soon, David Lynch replaced Joe Jefferson, and Tony
Williams replaced Cornell Gunther. At this point, Ralph Bass of Federal Records
signed the group to their first recording contract.
same year, the group signed a management contract with Chicago songwriter Buck Ram.
In early 1954 Ram decided a female would be a good addition to the group, and Zola
Taylor, who was in the female group The Queens at that time, was added to The Platters
fold. Later that year Paul Robi replaced Alex Hodge.
The Platters got their really big break while Ram was
negotiating a deal with Mercury Records for another of his groups, The Penguins. The
Penguins' song, "Earth Angel", was at the top of the charts in the United States
and Ram was negotiating a contract with Mercury for The Penguins. Ram decided to add
The Platters to the deal. Mercury wanted The Penguins, but not necessarily The
Platters. In a bold move, Buck Ram insisted they take both groups or none! The
Platters signed a recording contract with Mercury Records in 1955, which resulted in hits
such as, "Only You," "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," "My Prayer,"
"The Great Pretender," and "The Magic Touch" just to name a few.
The Platters have recorded nearly 400 songs, have sold over
80 million copies of those songs, and have performed throughout the world, winning many
awards and an induction into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame along the way. In addition,
The Platters over the years have appeared in 27 movies. In 1990 The Platters
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame