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The Platters

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Biography

Los Angeles, CA, USA (1953 – present)

The Platters were a successful black vocal group of the early rock n roll era. Their distinctive sound was a bridge between the pre-rock n roll Tin Pan Alley tradition of the Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers and the explosion of teenage music in the mid 1950s. The most successful incarnation of the group comprised lead tenor Tony Williams, David Lynch, Paul Robi, Herb Reed, and Zola Taylor.

The Platters formed in Los Angeles, CA, USA in 1953 and were initially managed by Ralph Bass. They had a contract with Federal Records but experienced little record success until they met music entrepreneur and songwriter Buck Ram. He added lead vocalist Tony Williams (who gave the Platters their distinctive sound) and female vocalist Zola Taylor. Under Ram’s guidance, the Platters recorded seven singles for Federal in an R&B/gospel style, scoring minor regional hits on the West Coast. One song recorded at Federal, “Only You (And You Alone)”, originally written by Ram for the Ink Spots was deemed unreleasable by the label.

Despite lack of chart success, the Platters were a profitable touring group—so successful that The Penguins, fresh from their No. 2 single Earth Angel, asked Ram to manage them too. With the Penguins as a bargaining chip, Ram persuaded Mercury Records into a 2-for-1 deal. In order to sign the Penguins, he insisted, the label also take the Platters. Ironically, the Penguins never had a hit for the label.

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