• Little Anthony & The Imperials (3)  (Brooklyn, New York)
    aka The Chesters
    The Early Years (End Records)


    Personnel :

    Anthony Gourdine (Lead)

    Tracy Lord (Tenor)

    Ernest Wright, Jr. (Second Tenor)

    Clarence Collins (Baritone)

    Glouster Rogers (Bass) 


    Discography :

    Singles :

    The Chesters
    1957 -  Lift Up Your Head / The Fires Burn No More (Apollo 521)

    The Imperials (3)
    1958 - Tears On My Pillow / Two People In The World (End 1027)

    Little Anthony & The Imperials (3)
    1958 - Tears On My Pillow / Two People In The World(End 1027)
    1958 - So Much / Oh Yeah (End 1036)

    1959 - The Diary / Cha Cha Henry (End 1038)

    1959 - Wishful Thinking / When You Wish Upon A Star (End 1039)

    1959 - A Prayer And A Juke Box / River Path (End 1047)

    1959 - So Near And Yet So Far / I'm Alright (End 1053)

    1959 - Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop / I'm Still In Love With You (End 1060)

    1960 - My Empty Room / Bayou, Bayou, Baby (End 1067)

    1960 - I'm Taking A Vacation From Love / Only Sympathy (End 1074)

    1960 - Limbo (Part 1) / Limbo (Part 2) (End 1080)

    1960 - Formula Of Love / Dream (End 1083)
    1961 - Please Say You Want Me / So Near Yet So Far (End 1086)

    1961 - Traveling Stranger / Say Yeah (End 1091)

    1961 - A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening / Dream (End 1104)

    Eps :

    1958 - Little Anthony and the Imperials  (End EP-203)
    The Diary / Tears on My Pillow / Traveling Stranger / So Much

    1959 - We Are The Imperials (End EP-204)
    When You Wish Upon A Star / Over The Rainbow / Love Is A Many Splendid Thing / What Did I Do

    End EP-203                                                              End EP-204

    Lps :

    1959 - We Are The Imperials (End LP-303)
    Tears On My Pillow / Over The Rainbow / Cha Cha Henry / The Diary / Oh Yeah / Two People In The World / When You Wish Upon A Star / Wishful Thinking / So Much / Traveling Stranger / What Did I Do / Love Is A Many Splendored Thing

    1960 - Shades Of The Forties (End LP-311)
    This Love Of Mine / Don't Get Around Much Anymore / They Say It's Wonderful / If You Are But A Dream / Undecided / All Or Nothing At All / /I'll Never Smile Again / Dream / A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening / I Couldn't Sleep A Wink Last Night / Oooh! Look-a There, Ain't She Pretty / I've Got A Crush On You

    End LP-303                                                               End LP-303

     Unreleased :

    1958 - I Cover The Waterfront (End)
    1958 - Little Girl (End)
    1959 - Dry Your Eyes (End)


    Biography :

    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.

    In the meantime, Anthony Gourdine still had hopes to make it big in music. He persevered and soon formed a new vocal group consisting of neighborhood guys - Clarence Collins, Tracy Lord, Nat Rogers, and Ernest Wright, and they called themselves The Chesters. They hoped to record for George Goldner at Gone / End Records, but he was not impressed with the presentation or style of the group. Meeting with a successful group from the neighborhood, The Cellos, Gourdine seemed to think that the group had a better shot with Apollo Records, a longtime R & B independent that had been at the forefront in New York for many years.

    Little Anthony & The Imperials (3) aka The Chesters

    A recording session was set up at soon "Lift Up Your Head" and "The Fires Burn No More", two originals written by Gourdine were recorded by Apollo and released on # 521 in early 1958. It began selling moderately in New York and was featured by disc jockey Bill Powell at WEEP in Pittsburgh. "Fires" was a great vocal group performance by the Chesters, featuring call and response patterns on the bridge, and Anthony lapsing up into falsetto as he transitions into the last chorus. He really hits the high note on the last wortd for a dramatic ending.

    It had all the makings of a substantial hit but as the record suddenly tailed off, the Chesters felt that Apollo had dropped the ball and did not do enough to promote the record. In their minds, this inaction caused it to become lost in the shuffle of so many new records released every week. They began to look elsewhere for a new label and perhaps a better shot at success. The group had been working on an Ernest Wright written song called "Two People In The World". They gave George Goldner and Gone / End another chance this time championed by Richard Barrett, formerly of The Valentines, and now a record producer and talent scout.


    They were given a second song called "Tears On My Pillow" and after a few takes, Goldner changed the arrangement around a bit and had Gourdine alter his delivery using a clipped shortened style rather than the elongated crooning effect used by most lead vocalists. When everyone was satisfied with the proper "take" of both songs, the record was set for release on End # 1027. Almost immediately, those at End decided they didn't like the name Chesters, and settled on Imperials for the group. Most of the sides naming The Chesters were recalled, and the group finally had hit their stride.

    On the second pressing of the record, the group had another name change, this time as Little Anthony & The Imperials. Where the "Little Anthony" came from is not clear. Some say it was the idea of Richard Barrett, others claim that George Goldner gave the group that name hoping to create another "Frankie Lymon type group", and still others say that it was the idea of Alan Freed. Whatever the truth, the group would become world famous with that name in the years ahead.

     The group followed up with "Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko Ko Bop" in 1960. When their success dwindled in 1961, Gourdine left to attempt a solo career. Original Imperials member Nate Rogers was drafted into the service and Tracey Lord, another original member, left to get married. and the line-up then became Collins, Wright, Sammy Strain,(a childhood friend who had grown up together with the Imperials in Brooklyn), and George Kerr. Kerr was replaced by Kenny Seymour after a short time. This line-up had little success. Gourdine returned in 1963, replacing Seymour for another Story...

    Videos :

    Tears On My Pillow

    Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop

    Songs :

    Tears On My Pillow        Two People In The World                    So Much

    Oh Yeah                                  The Diary                      Cha Cha Henry

    Wishful Thinking             When You Wish Upon A Star    A Prayer And A Juke Box

    River Path                      So Near And Yet So Far               I'm Alright

    Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop     I'm Still In Love With You       My Empty Room

    Bayou, Bayou, Baby      I'm Taking A Vacation From Love         Only Sympathy

    Formula Of Love                   Dream                         Please Say You Want Me

    So Near Yet So Far         Traveling Stranger     A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening

    What Did I Do             This Love Of Mine         Don't Get Around Much Anymore

    They Say It's Wonderful        If You Are But A Dream             Undecided

    All Or Nothing At All            I'll Never Smile Again          I've Got A Crush On You


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