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Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs

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Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs were an American doo-wop and rhythm & blues vocal group, active during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Originally The (Royal) Charms, the band changed its name to The Gladiolas in 1957 and The Excellos in 1958, before finally settling on The Zodiacs in 1959.

Maurice Williams was born 26 April 1938 in Lancaster, South Carolina. His first experience with music was in the church, where his mother and sister both performed. By the time he was six, Williams was performing regularly there. With his childhood friend Earl Gainey, Williams formed the gospel group The Junior Harmonizers. As rock and roll and doo-wop became their primary interest, the Junior Harmonizers changed their name to The Royal Charms.

In addition to Williams and Gainey, The Royal Charms were made up of Willie Jones (baritone), William Massey (tenor, baritone, trumpet), and Norman Wade (bass). In the winter of 1956, while still in high school, Williams and his band traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to record for the Excello record label. At the time they were going by the name ‘The Royal Charms,’ but the founder of Excello Records, Ernie Young, convinced them to change their name to ‘The Gladiolas.’ At the time, there were at least two other bands using the same name.
The song “Little Darlin’” was a #11 hit on the R&B chart in 1957, but did not break the Billboard Hot 100’s Top 40. However, when the song was covered by the Canadian group The Diamonds, it moved up to #2.

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