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Little Anthony & the Imperials

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Little Anthony & the Imperials enjoyed one of the longest career runs of any doo wop group, adapting their honey-smooth style to fit the sweet uptown soul sound of the mid-'60s. Right from the beginning, Little Anthony's aching way with a ballad was the group's calling card, but their repertoire was balanced by more R&B-inflected dance tunes. Little Anthony was born Jerome Anthony Gourdine in 1940, and grew up in Brooklyn's Fort Greene projects. While in high school, he sang in a doo wop group called the Duponts, who recorded a single called "Prove It Now" in 1957. They disbanded after graduation, however, and Gourdine joined another group called the Chesters, which had been formed by his friend Clarence Collins (baritone) and also featured longtime friend Ernest Wright, Jr. (tenor); the other members were Tracy Lord (tenor) and Nat Rogers (bass). After a one-off single for Apollo, they landed a record deal with the End label in 1958, at which point their name was changed to the Imperials. ("Little Anthony" was later tagged onto the beginning by DJ Alan Freed.) The Imperials' first single for End was the classic heartache ballad "Tears on My Pillow," a Top Five smash on both the pop and R&B charts. Little Anthony's dramatic interpretation was certainly helped in the public eye by his youthful-sounding voice and name, which recalled the recently popular Frankie Lymon. The single's B-side, "Two People in the World," was also something of a hit, making the Imperials one of the hottest vocal groups around. Landing a follow-up hit proved difficult, however; the group charted several singles -- "So Much," "Wishful Thinking," "A Prayer and a Juke Box" -- without even approaching their earlier success. Finally, the novelty dance track "Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop" caught on in 1960 and returned Little Anthony & the Imperials to the upper reaches of the charts (though it missed the Top Ten). The follow-ups "My Empty Room" and "Please Say You Want Me" flopped, however, and Little Anthony decided to try a solo career in late 1961. The Imperials continued on with a new lineup of Collins, Wright, Sammy Strain, and George Kerr, the latter of whom was replaced by Kenny Seymour in 1962. Neither Little Anthony nor his erstwhile group had any luck on their own, and in late 1963 he returned to the fold, replacing Seymour. The next summer, the reconstituted Imperials signed with the DCP label, where producer/songwriter Teddy Randazzo made them a priority. His first effort with the group, "I'm on the Outside (Looking In)," reached number 15 on both the pop and R&B charts in 1964, reestablishing the Imperials as a commercial presence. The follow-up, "Goin' Out of My Head," was a smash, returning them to the pop Top Ten for the first time since "Tears on My Pillow"; it was covered quite often in the years that followed, and grew into something of a pop standard. The Imperials' streak of good fortune continued with the equally dramatic ballad "Hurt So Bad," another Top Ten hit that also became their second R&B Top Fiver in 1965. A couple of smaller hits followed later that year in "I Miss You So" and the pop/R&B Top 20 "Take Me Back." Little Anthony & the Imperials continued to chart singles over the next several years, but only one -- 1969's "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" -- breached the Top 50 on either the pop or R&B sides. That same year, the group switched labels to United Artists, and Ernest Wright, Jr. departed to join singer Tony Williams' latter-day version of the Platters. He was replaced by a returning Kenny Seymour, who was in turn replaced by Bobby Wade in 1971, the year of the group's last chart single, "Help Me Find a Way (To Say I Love You)." Sammy Strain left in 1972 and wound up joining the O'Jays four years later; his replacement was Harold Jenkins. Little Anthony himself left the group a second time in 1975 to pursue solo recording as well as an acting career, which effectively spelled the end of the road; nonetheless, a Collins-led lineup did manage to score one last hit in the U.K., 1977's "Who's Gonna Love Me." Little Anthony became a born-again Christian in 1978 and subsequently recorded a gospel album, Daylight. Anthony, Collins, Wright, and Strain reunited in 1992 and toured the oldies circuit steadily thereafter. ~ Steve Huey
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Albums by
Little Anthony & the Imperials

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    19 songs

    On Air

    On a New Street / Hold On

    12 songs

    On Air

    Two Kinds Of People In The World

    11 songs

    On Air

    Love's Still Changing Heart

    18 songs

    On Air

    Hot Pastrami

    9 songs

    On Air

    Yes! It's Little Anthony & The Imperials

    12 songs

    On Air

    Greatest Hits

    1 song

    On Air

    Hurt so Bad

    45 songs

    On Air

    Tears on My Pillow and All Their Greatest Recordings

    13 songs

    On Air

    The Best of Little Anthony & the Imperials [EMI]

    10 songs

    On Air

    Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko Ko Bop

    24 songs

    On Air

    Best Of

    25 songs

    On Air

    Famous Hits By Little Anthony & The Imperials

    11 songs

    On Air

    Little Anthony and the Imperials

    29 songs

    On Air

    Doo Wop Legends - Little Anthony and The Imperials

    11 songs

    On Air

    Biggest Hits and More

    10 songs

    On Air

    Little Anthony and the Imperials: Essential 10

    37 songs

    On Air

    Little Anthony & The Imperials - The Greatest Hits Collection

    45 songs

    On Air

    I'm Alright

    40 songs

    On Air

    Tears On My Pillow: 40 Classic Doo Wop Hits

    2 songs

    On Air

    Tears on My Pillow / Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop

    12 songs

    On Air

    You'll Never Know

    10 songs

    On Air

    Greatest Hits [EMI-Capitol Special Markets]

    18 songs

    On Air

    The Best of Little Anthony & the Imperials [Rhino]

    12 songs

    On Air

    We Are the Imperials Featuring Little Anthony

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Top Songs by
Little Anthony & the Imperials

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Goin' Out of My Head
  3.   Tears on My Pillow
  4.   Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop
  5.   Hurt So Bad
  6.   I'm on the Outside (Looking In)
  7.   Two People in the World
  8.   Take Me Back by Little Anthony
  9.   I Miss You So
  10.   What Did I Do
  11.   I'm Taking a Vacation From Love
  12.   My Empty Room
  13.   If I Remember to Forget
  14.   Cha Cha Heart
  15.   The Christmas Song
  16.   Somebody
  17.   They Say It's Wonderful
  18.   The Exodus Song
  19.   Don't Get Around Much Anymore
  20.   My Baby's Back
  21.   This Love of Mine
  22.   Young Girl
  23.   That's What Love Is All About
  24.   2 People in the World
  25.   Hold On (Just a Little Bit Longer)
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
Little Anthony & the Imperials

    On Air

    Classic Soul

    On Air

    '50s Hits

    On Air

    '60s Hits

    On Air

    Amy Winehouse: DNA

    On Air

    '50s Deep Dive

    On Air

    Oldies

    On Air

    Vintage Love Songs

    On Air

    '60s Deep Dive

    On Air

    Chicano Old School

    On Air

    Dive Bar Jukebox


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