The Platters were formed in Los Angeles in 1952.
The group were managed by entrepreneur / songwriter:
Buck Ram (b. Samuel Ram, 21st November 1907, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. d. 1st January 1991, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.).
Through his ownership of the Platters' name, Ram was able to control the group throughout their career.
The group were first called The Flamingos.
The Platters, originally, comprised of:
Gaynel Hodge (b. 4th January 1937, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. d. 3rd June 2021, Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Alex Hodge (brother of Gaynel Hodge - baritone - b. 1935 d. 1982.)
Tony Williams (lead tenor - b. 15th April 1928, Roselle, New Jersey, U.S.A. d. 14th August 1992, Manhattan, New York, U.S.A.)
David Lynch (tenor - b. 3rd July 1929, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A., d. 2nd January 1981, Long Beach, California, U.S.A.)
Herb Reed (bass - b. 7th August 1928, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A. d. 4th June 2012, Boston Massachussetts, U.S.A.)
This line-up recorded in 1954, and led to the arrival of two new members:
Paul Robi (baritone - b. 20th August 1931, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A. d. 1st February 1989, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.) (who replaced Alex Hodge)
Zola Taylor (contralto - b. 17th March 1934, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. d. 30th April 2007, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.).
The Platters were originally managed by Ralph Bass and were formed in 1953, founded by Alex Hodge, who was the brother of the Turks vocalist, Gaynel Hodge..
The singers were originally signed to the Federal imprint, having some success, although their careers really blossomed under the wing of the songwriter, Buck Ram.
In 1954, Buck Ram was already running a talent agency in Los Angeles, writing and arranging for publisher Mills Music, and managing the group the Three Suns.
The Platters were originally utilised as a backing vocal ensemble, most notably for the singer Linda Hayes.
Buck rearranged the group line-up adding Tony Williams (Linda's brother) and the female singer, Zola Taylor.
The group released several sides for Federal, one of which was their take on the Ink Spot's evergreen 'Only You (And You Alone)' b/w 'You Made Me Cry' (in 1955).
give thanks - 1953 / love all night - 1954
Other Federal sides included 'Give Thanks' b/w 'Hey Now' (in 1953), 'I'll Cry When You're Gone', 'Roses Of Picardy', 'Tell The World', 'Voo-Vee-Ah-Bee' (in 1954), and 'Maggie Doesn't Work Here Anymore' (in 1955).
Their final Federal release was 'Give Thanks' b/w 'I Need You All The Time', released in 1956.
Buck Ram's reputation grew in line with the polarity of the Platters, and he was offered the management of other group's including the Penguins (who had recently charted with the song 'Earth Angel').
Buck combined the two groups into one offer made to Mercury Records, in a more attractive dual deal, which was accepted by the label.
With a new recording contract in the bag, Jean Bennett and Tony Williams suggested that there was still some potential in the song 'Only You'.
Recorded and then released in 1955, the song reached the Top 10 in the charts.
'Only You' b/w 'Bark, Battle And Ball' also topped the R&B charts that year, and was quickly followed by the song 'The Great Pretender' b/w 'I'm Just A Dancing Partner'.
The songs lyrics were written by Buck Ram and became another national number one hit.
In 1956, the group appeared in the Billy Haley movie vehicle 'Rock Around the Clock', performing both of their major hits.
The Platters appeared in twenty-seven movies over the years, including 'The Girl Can't Help It' ( with Jane Mansfield,), 'Europe By Night', 'Girls Town' (with Paul Anka,) 'Carnival Rock', along with twenty-two other feature films.
The Platters lineup has changed several times.
The original lineup in 1953 changed when the group signed with Buck Ram, who built the group around Tony Williams' voice.
A year later Jefferson, and Gunther left and Zola Taylor, was added by Buck.
In October 1954, baritone Alex Hodge, who had written some of the songs with Federal, was replaced by Buck at the urging of Tony Wiliams and Herb Reed.
He was immediately replaced by Paul Robi.
the platters - 1956 / the flying platters - 1958 / the flying platters around the world - 1959 / refections - 1960
This line-up was the one remembered for the group's biggest and most successful hits, and endured until 1960.
Later releases consolidated the groups popularity across all racial divides, songs including 'I'm Sorry' (which reached number 11) and 'He's Mine' (which reached number 23) in 1957, 'Enchanted' (which reached number 12) in 1959, and 'The Magic Touch' (which reached number 4) in 1956.
The group began recording older material, in their own unique delivery, including 'My Prayer' (in 1961), 'Twilight Time', 'Harbor Lights' (in 1960), 'To Each His Own' (in 1959), 'If I Didn't Care' (in 1961) and 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes' (in 1958).
One legal arrangement that Buck Ram set in motion at this time was that each member of the group received a share in the stock, full royalties and their Social Security was paid.
When group members left, Buck and his business partner bought their stock which gave them ownership of the group name.
In 1959, four male members of the Platters were arrested in Cincinnati on drug and prostitution charges.
None of the convictions were upheld, however the charges seriously damaged their standing and U.S. radio stations stopped playing their records.
life is just a bowl of cherries -1961 / song for the lonely - 1962
The group looked to Europe for rebuilding their reputation, however, the legal arrangements made previously, were to return and haunt Buck Ram.
As members came and went, the group's name became to domain of several ex-group members.
Tony Williams would front his own version of the Platters, as would Zola Taylor (who left in 1964) and Paul Robi (who departed in 1965).
the platters have the magic touch - 1966 / going back to detroit - 1967
The Buck Ram Platters, with lead vocalist Sonny Turner, Herb Reed, David Lynch, Nate Nelson (former lead voice of The Flamingos and replacement for Robi), and Sandra Dawn, signed to Musicor Records and enjoyed a short chart resurgence of interest in 1966-67.
Herb Reed, the final member of the original Platters, resigned in 1969.
Throughout the late 60's, and through the following decades, personnel changes brought a great deal of confusion regarding who actually were the legitimate version of the Platters.
Herb Reed continues to tour with his version of the group, called Herb Reed's Platters, a name which he now legally owns since 1987.
This is juxtaposed by the number of over 100 versions of the Platters currently on the oldies show circuit.
The Platters were later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
They were also the first rock and roll group to have a Top Ten album in America.
Buck Ram passed away in January 1991 from natural causes.
Zola Taylor had been married to singer, Frankie Lymon, a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Inductee.
Gene Williams, part of the later 80's line-up, passed away on Monday 20th August 2008.
Herb Reed died of complications from several ailments, including heart disease, at a hospice in Boston, Massachussetts, on the 4th of June 2012, at the age of 83.
The Platters (Federal Records 1955)
(also released on King as)
Only You (Mercury Records 1956)
The Platters, Volume 2 (Mercury Records 1956)
The Flying Platters (Mercury Records 1957)
The Platters On Parade (Mercury Records 1959)
Flying Platters Around The World (Mercury 1959)
Remember When (Mercury Records 1959)
Reflections (Mercury Records 1960)
Encore Of Golden Hits (Mercury Records 1960)
More Encore Of Golden Hits (Mercury Records 1960)
The Platters (Mercury Records 1960)
Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries (Mercury Records 1961)
The Platters Sing For The Lonely (Mercury Records 1962)
Encore Of The Golden Hits Of The Groups (Mercury Records 1962)
Moonlight Memories (Mercury Records 1963)
Platters Sing All The Movie Hits (Mercury Records 1963)
Platters Sing Latino (Mercury Records 1963)
Christmas With The Platters (Mercury Records 1963)
New Soul Campus Style Of The Platters (Mercury Records 1965)
I Love You 1000 Times (Musicor Records 1966)
Going Back To Detroit (Stateside Records 1967)
I Get The Sweetest Feeling (Stateside Records 1968)
Sweet Sweet Lovin' (Stateside Records 1968)
Our Way (Pye International Records 1971)
Encore Of Broadway Golden Hits (Pye International Records 1972)
Live (Pye International Records 1974)