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Little Anthony & the Imperials

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Little Anthony & The Imperials is a rhythm and blues/soul/doo-wop vocal group from New York, first active in the 1950s. Lead singer Little Anthony was noted for his high-pitched falsetto voice influenced by Jimmy Scott.

In 1957, a doo-wop group known as The Chesters existed with members Clarence Collins, Tracy Lord, Nathaniel Rodgers, and Ronald Ross. Anthony Gourdine, a former member of The Duponts, joined as lead vocalist. Ernest Wright took over for Ross, and the group recorded shortly for Apollo Records.

Changing their name to The Imperials, they signed with End Records in 1958. Their first single was “Tears On My Pillow”, which was an instant hit. (While playing this song, D.J. Alan Freed dubbed the name “Little Anthony”.) The B side, “Two Kinds of People” was also a hit. The group followed up with “Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko Ko Bop” in 1960. When their success dwindled in 1961, Little Anthony left to attempt a solo career. Some members left, and the line-up then became Collins, Wright, Sammy Strain, and George Kerr. Kerr was replaced by Kenny Seymour after a short time. This line-up had little success.

Little Anthony returned in 1963, replacing Seymour. With the help of record producer/songwriter Teddy Randazzo, the group found success on the new DCP label with the dramatic pop-soul records “I’m On The Outside Looking In” (1964), “Goin’ Out Of My Head” (1964), “Hurt So Bad” (1965), “I Miss You So” (1965), “Take Me Back” (1965), and “Out of Sight, Out Of Mind” (1969).

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