Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs / The Gladiolas

Hello,  Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs were a doo-wop/R&B vocal group.  His group originally recorded as The Gladiolas.  Maurice was born on April 26, 1938 in Lancaster, South Carolina.  The band went through many name changes, originally The (Royal) Charms, then The Gladiolas in 1957, and then The Excellos in 1958, and then Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs in 1959.

Recording as The Gladiolas in 1957, with Maurice singing the lead and group members Earl Gainey, William Massey, Willie Jones and Norman Wade, the group scored a #41 hit on the Billboard Top 100 chart with the original version of “LITTLE DARLIN'” on Excello Records.  The Gladiolas version made its chart debut on April 6, 1957 and stayed on the Top 100 for 11 weeks.  On the R&B chart they reached #11 in the early spring of ’57.   A cover version of “Little Darlin'” by the Canadian, white doo-wop group, The Diamonds fared much better.  The Diamonds version actually made its chart debut on March 16, 1957 about 3 weeks before The Gladiolas version charted (on the Pop chart).  The Diamonds version on Mercury Records just missed #1 settling at #2 where it remained for 8 weeks and enjoyed a 26 week stay on the Top 100.  The Diamonds version sold over a million copies.

In 1959 the group split and reformed with the new line up of Maurice on lead, Wiley Bennett, Henry Gaston, Charles Thomas, Albert Hill and Little Willie Morrow.  On October 3, 1960, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs made their chart debut with a Maurice Williams written song “STAY” on the Herald Records label.  Their recording went straight to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, reaching #1 and staying on the chart for 18 weeks.  At just 1 minute and 39 seconds “Stay” is the shortest recording to ever reach #1.  “Stay” was included on the soundtrack to the film “Dirty Dancing” in 1987.

In 1961 the group charted 2 more Hot 100 hits but they failed to achieve the success of the past hits.  “I REMEMBER-reached #86 and “COME ALONG”-reached #83.  “Stay” has been a hit for The 4 Seasons in 1964 (#16) and for Jackson Browne in 1978 (#20) and both earned “Gold Records” for selling over a million copies in the US.

Maurice Williams has not only recorded but has written 2 of the biggest songs of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  He has continued recording, touring and releasing new music through the 1970’s-’80s-’90s.  He is still active in the music industry.  His classic versions of “Stay” and “Little Darlin'” are staples of the doo-wop music scene, with both songs listed as members of the “Greatest 1000 Doo-Wop Hits of All-Time”, by Gribin/Schiff in their book “The Complete Book of Doo-Wop”.

Till the next time—Joe

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THE CHORDS–“SH-BOOM”

Hello,  The Chords were a 1950’s doo-wop group from the Bronx, New York.  Members included Carl Feaser-lead and his brother Claude Feaser, Jimmy Keyes, Floyd McRae, William Edwards and Rupert Branker.  The group formed in 1951, but were not discovered until 1954.  They signed a contract with Atlantic Records and recorded for a subsidiary label, Cat Records.

The Chords went into the studio and recorded a cover version of the Patti Page hit, “CROSS OVER THE BRIDGE” and on the “B” side of the record was “SH-BOOM”, a catchy tune that had an a cappella intro.  It didn’t take long for “Sh-Boom” to become the hit side.  On July 3, 1954 The Chords made their first Billboard Top 100 debut.  “Sh-Boom” had a 16 run on the Pop chart and made its way all the way to #5.  It was also a huge hit on the R&B chart, peaking at #3.

On July 10, 1954 a cover version of “Sh-Boom” made its chart debut.  The Crew-Cuts a pop vocal group from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who recorded for Mercury Records went right to #1 on the Billboard Pop chart with their version.  They enjoyed a 20 week stay on the pop chart.  The Crew-Cuts would cover many other songs that were originally recorded by R&B groups.

The Chords would not chart another record on the Pop chart.  The group would go through various name changes including the Chordcats, Sh-Booms and would also go through several personnel changes.  They would continue recording and performing until 1960 and then disband.  There is little doubt that this fine group should have had more hits but their one hit is the ultimate version of an early R&B/Rock & Roll  classic “SH-BOOM”.

Till the next time—Joe

TRIVIA TEASER-87

Hello, The answer to yesterday’s question is: C-THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS-#1 in 1989 was Bette Midler’s only Billboard Hot 100, #1 song.  BOOGIE WOOGIE BUGLE BOY, THE ROSE & FROM A DISTANCE were all #1 Adult Contemporary hits.

Today’s Trivia Teaser question is:  In 1963 this great recording duo charted their first Billboard Hot 100 hit with the song, “LITTLE LATIN LUPE LU”.  Can you name them?

Leave your answer in the comment box or check back tomorrow for the answer.

Till the next time—Joe