1956 The Platters – You’ll Never Know
Herb Reed founded the Platters and came up with the name for the singers based on the slang term disc jockeys used for records. He recruited Cornell Gunter as their lead singer.
Gaynel Hodge was the member who acted as their music director. Gaynel had been a member of the Turks, a group later known as The Hollywood Flames. Gaynel and another member of the Turks, Curtis Williams, had written Earth Angel with Jesse Belvin, and the song became a huge hit for the Penguins.
Gaynel’s brother Alex and Joe Jefferson rounded out the group.
In 1953, Tony Williams replaced Cornell as the lead singer of the group. Gaynel left the Platters and joined the West Coast doo-wop group the Flairs, and left them to join the Coasters in 1958. David Lynch joined the group.
By 1954, the band’s manager, songwriter Buck Ram, also replaced Alex with Paul Robi, and hired a woman, Zola Taylor, to replace Joe. The resulting lineup was responsible for most of the hit records the Platters had from 1955 to 1959. The group quickly had four top ten singles, including two (The Great Pretender and My Prayer) that topped the Hot 100 in 1956.
Their next single was a cover of a song that Alice Faye sang in the 1943 film Hello, Frisco, Hello: You’ll Never Know. Her version probably wasn’t even released on vinyl, but the song was popular enough that three versions charted in 1943: the #1 single by Dick Haymes, Frank Sinatra’s recording with the Bobby Tucker Singers that peaked at #2, and the near-instrumental version by Willie Kelly and his Orchestra that reached #6.
Zola sang lead when the Platters released You’ll Never Know in 1955. Their cover only reached #11 on the Hot 100.
Sonny Turner took over as the lead singer in the group in 1959, and their label, Mercury Records, refused to release any recordings that did not have Tony singing lead. The record company kept releasing older recordings the group had made until their contract with the group expired.
Numerous other members came and went, and before long, five distinct groups began touring that were using “The Platters” as at least part of their band’s name. That led to lawsuits and angry, hurt feelings for years until most of the members had died. There is still a group performing live as the Platters, but none of them were in the group prior to 1970.
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