The Platters
“All our (The Platters) lyrics and melodies spoke of romance, and that's not going out of style." -- Buck Ram
In 1956, The Platters were second only to Elvis Presley in terms of popularity. The vocal group, which was a descendent of the early R & B vocal groups like the Ink Spots, the Orioles and the Moonglows, would place four songs in 1956’s top Billboard Top 100. “The Magic Touch” (#36) “The Great Pretender" (#12), “My Prayer” (#4), "You'll Never Never Know" (#79). The Platters were a harmony group that would in future years be referred to as “doo wop.” They combined the rhythm of rock and roll with romantic lyrics. They first recorded “Only You” in 1953. It didn’t get much play, but manager/producer, Buck Ram got it rereleased in 1955 and it climbed to #5 and was the #22 song on Billboard for the year. Another group under Rams’ management, the Penguins had a major hit with “Earth Angel” in 1954 for Federal Records. Buck Ram negotiated a deal with Mercury Records to have The Platters included in a contract that signed the Penguins to Mercury. Another group, the Hilltoppers would cover “Only You” and reach #8, but The Platters’ version would be a #1 R & B hit and reach #5 on the pop charts. Ironically, The Penguins never had another major hit, but The Platters would go on to be one of the great performers of early rock and roll. The group consisted of Tony Williams, lead singer, David Lynch, second tenor, Alex Hedge / Paul Robi, baritone, Herb Reed, bass, and Zola Taylor. The addition of Zola Taylor in 1956 marked a difference in the Platters as one of the few vocal groups to include a female singer. The Platters’ “full orchestral background and vocal smoothness were both innovative at the time and stylistic trailblazers for years to come.” (G & T) Their best seller of 1956 was “My Prayer,” originally a French song, “Avant de Mourir,” recorded in 1939, with English lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy. The song was buried on an album that Mercury did not want to release as a single. After hearing the song, disk jockey, Alan Freed circulated the rumor that the Four Aces were going to release the song. Mercury quickly released the Platters’ version which would reach #1 on the Billboard chart on August 4th, 1956, preventing Elvis Presley from having three consecutive #1 songs. In 1958, The Platters would reach #1 again with “Twilight Time” and “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.” The Platters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
title week debuted highest ranking Date Highest Rank weeks on chart
Only You 10/1/55 5 1/14/1956 20
The Great Pretender 12/24/55 1 2/18/1956 19
Magic Touch 3/31/56 4 5/19/1956 16
My Prayer 7/7/56 1 8/18/1956 20
You'll Never Never Know 10/6/56 11 11/10/1956 12
I'm Sorry 3/23/57 11 4/27/1957 11
Twilight Time 4/7/58 1 4/21/1958 14
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes 12/1/58 1 1/16/1959 16
Enchanted 4/6/59 12 5/4/1959 11
Harbor Lights 2/15/60 8 3/28/1960 11