At the height of their career, the Platters were an anachronism, performing classic Tin Pan Alley material updated slightly to fit the rhythmic framework of the rock ’n’roll era. Founded by Herbert Reed in 1953, the group-which also included David Lynch, Paul Robi, and lead singer Tony Williams-initially recorded in a doo-wop style for the Federal label. Failing to achieve a hit record, members were working as parking lot attendants in Los Angeles when they met music business entrepreneur Buck Ram. Initially using them to make demonstration discs of his own compositions (that tended to fall within the crooning genre), Ram insisted that Mercury Records sign them
as part of a package deal involving another of his clients, the Penguins, then on the verge of stardom with the recording, “Earth Angel” (Dootone #348; 1954-1955). In one of the supreme ironies in recording history, the Penguins faded from the public eye without another pop hit, while the Platters (adding Zola Taylor in late 1955) became the topselling vocal group of the second half of the 1950s. Their Top 10 singles included “Only You” (Mercury #70633; 1955), “The Great Pretender” (Mercury #70753; 1955-1956;
#1), “(You’ve Got) The Magic Touch” (Mercury #70819; 1956),“My Prayer” (Mercury #70893; 1956; #1), “Twilight Time” (Mercury #71289; 1958; #1), “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (Mercury #71383; 1958-1959; #1), and “Harbor Lights” (Mercury #71563; 1960).