The Cleftones were an R & B vocal group from Queens, New York, U.S.A.
The group comprised:
Herb Cox (b. 6th May 1939, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A, lead d. 7th December 2019, Freeport, Maine, U.S.A.)
Charlie James (b. 1940, first tenor)
Berman Patterson (b. 1938, second tenor)
William McClain (b. 1938, baritone)
Warren Corbin (b. 1939, bass)
The group came together at Jamaica High School in Queens during 1955.
The group were orginally known as 'the Clefs'.
Later an association with another local group and Charlie James and Buzzy McClain were added to the line-up.
The new quintet went under the name of The Silvertones and perfomed at various venues such as Hillcrest Jewish Center, Lost Battalion Hall, the Fresh Meadows Community Center and the Jamaica YMCA.
The group then reverted to their initial name, the Cleftones.
After joining George Goldner's Gee label, the group launched their recording career with 'You Baby You' b / w 'I Was Dreaming', a regional hit in late 1955, entering Mastertone Recording Studios in New York City.
The record included Herb Cox's lead, Warren Corbin's bassfills, and session musician Jimmy Wright's saxophone blowing.
With their second record, 'Little Girl Of Mine', the group became nationally known as the record went to number 8 R & B and number 57 pop in 1956.
Two follow-ups the same year, 'Can't We Be Sweethearts' and 'String Around My Heart', were regional hits.
A move to a ballad format in 1957, 'See You Next Year', did not restore the Cleftones to national prominence.
In 1959 Gene Pearson (from the Rivileers) replaced Buzzy McClain, and the following year Patricia Spann was added to the group.
'Heart And Soul', a rock 'n' roll remake of an evergreen melody, proved to be the group's biggest hit, reaching number 10 R & B and number 18 pop in 1961.
Other tracks from this era included the album cut 'Please Say You Want Me' (featuring Pat Spann in a remake of the Schoolboys' hit) and another remake, 'For Sentimental Reasons'.
The Cleftones' recording career came to an end in 1964, however resuming many years later into the new millennium.
Herb Cox sadly passed away in December 2019, from Alzheiner's disease.
Heart And Soul (Gee Records 1961)
For Sentimental Reasons (Gee Records 1962)