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the orioles

The Orioles

The Orioles were formed in 1947 in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.

The group comprised of:

Sonny Til (b. Earlington Carl Tilghman, 18th August 1928, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. d. 9th December 1981, Washington D.C., U.S.A. - lead)

Alexander Sharp (b. December 1919, U.S.A. d. January 1970, U.S.A. (heart attack) - tenor)

George Nelson (b. 1926, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. d. 1959, U.S.A. - baritone)

Johnny Reed (bass b. 16th August 1923, U.S.A. d. 18th June 2005, U.S.A.)

and guitarist

Tommy Gaither (b. 1930, U.S.A. d. 5th November 1950, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.)

The Orioles were a Baltimore based group, who were one of the early R&B groups, who helped lay the foundations of doo wop.

The group started out under the name of The Vibra-Naires, performing around 1947.

The Vibra-Naires signed to the Jubilee Records imprint subsidiary, It’s A Natural Records.

Shortly after joining the label, they changed their name to The Orioles.

The Oriole is the state bird for Maryland, thus the group’s adopted name.

The OriolesThe Orioles

‘It's Too Soon To Know’ b/w ‘Barbra Lee - 1948 / ‘Crying in the Chapel’ b/w ‘Don't You Think I Ought To Know’ - 1953

In July 1948, they released ‘It's Too Soon To Know’ b/w ‘Barbra Lee’, which sold 30,000 copies in its first week.

The song rose to number 1 on the national R&B charts that year.

‘It's Too Soon To Know’ was later covered by the likes of the Ravens, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington.

The Orioles then went on tour, and began recording for the main Jubilee label.

In 1949, they released ‘Tell Me So’ b/w ‘Deacon Jones’, which reached number 1 on the R&B charts.

The OriolesThe Orioles

'Tell Me So’ b/w ‘Deacon Jones' - 1949 / ‘Forgive And Forget’ b/w ‘So Much’- 1949

They then released ‘Forgive And Forget’ b/w ‘So Much’ and ‘Lonely Christmas’ b/w ‘What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?’.

On stage the Orioles made a big impact, with just the the guitar of Tommy Gaither and the bass Johnny Reed as musical support.

Between 1948 to 1954, they released many singles, mainly for the Natural and Jubilee imprints.

In 1950, the group we en route to Baltimore in two cars.

Tommy Gaither was driving in one car, with Johnny Reed and George Nelson as passengers.

He lost control of the car, which crashed into a drive-in restaurant.

Tommy was killed, whilst the other two were severely injured.

The other group members were driving at a distance from Tommy’s car, and found out about the tragedy after they arrived home.

Sonny Til

sonny til

The group line-up changed, with Sonny Til and Alexander Sharp adding the guitarist/second tenor, Ralph Williams, and, pianist, Charlie Harris.

Johnny Reed and George Nelson later re-joined the group.

In 1952, they returned to the charts with ‘Baby Please Don't Go’ b/w ‘For All We Know’.

In 1953, George Nelson left the Orioles, and was replaced by John ‘Gregory’ Carroll.

Later that year, the group released ‘Crying in the Chapel’ b/w ‘Don't You Think I Ought To Know’, which was their biggest hit, reaching number 1 in the R&B charts.

The song turned out to be the Orioles last big hit.

Group changes in 1954 and 1955, led to the group disbanding that year.

The OriolesThe OriolesThe OriolesThe Orioles

modern sounds of the orioles - 1962 / cadillacs meet the orioles - 1962 / sonny til returns - 1970 / old gold, new gold - 1971

Sonny Til later joined a group called the Regals.

Various incarnations of the Orioles were formed, by various ex-group members, well into the Nineties.

Real Player


The Cadillacs Meet The Orioles (Jubilee Records 1962)

Modern Sounds Of The Orioles Greatest Hits (Jubilee Records 1962)

Sonny Til Returns (RCA Records 1970)

Old Gold / New Gold (RCA Records 1971)

Visit Manhattan Circa 1950's (RCA Records 1981)

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