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The history of rhythm and blues is filled with vocal groups whose names -- the Orioles, the Cadillacs,the Crows, the Flamingos, the Moonglows, the Coasters, the Penguins -- are held in reverence by fanatics and devotees. The Drifters are part of an even more exclusive fraternity, as a group that managed to carve out a place for themselves in the R&B firmament and also define that music, not only at its inception as a national chart phenomenon in the early '50s but also in the decad...Bill Pinkney's Drifters Bio Continue
Burt Bacharach was born in Kansas City in 1928. As a child, he studied a variety of instruments, including piano and cello, which undoubtedly contributed to his eventual achievement as one of the most important composers of the century. A family move to New York when he was young gave Bacharach the opportunity to encounter jazz played live, and he could often be found sneaking into clubs to watch performances by such famed musicians as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. As a yo...Burt Bacharach Bio Continue
The Coasters came together in the 1950’s, born from an already successful group, the Robins. The Robins didn’t last more than a few years, and members Bobby Nunn and Carl Gardner decided to form a new group. With the addition of Leon Hughes and Billy Guy, they formed the Coasters and went on to provide American music with some of its most light-hearted and humorous classics. “Down in Mexico” was released in 1956 and became a hit record. “Young Blood...Carl Gardners' Coasters Bio Continue
Chubby Checker was born as Ernest Evans in 1941 in South Carolina. Before he reached the age of ten, the young Ernest was performing harmony vocals with friends, and by the time he began his high school studies, he’d become a self-taught piano player. It was a lucky break that led to a local store owner arranging for Evans to meet up with Dick Clark for a performance, after which time he began using the name Chubby Checker. Chubby Checker’s first single, &ldquo...Chubby Checker Bio Continue
Connie Francis was born Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero in 1938, to a working-class Italian family in New Jersey. Her father encouraged her as a young child to sing and perform at competitions and festivals, recognizing that the young Connie already showed signs of talent even at the young age of four. Connie Francis accepted a number of small jobs as a singer, and it was through one of these gigs that she came to the attention of managers who also recognized her potential. In 19...Connie Francis Bio Continue
Connie Stevens was born Concetta Rosalie Ann Ingoglia in 1938 in Brooklyn, New York. Connie’s father was already a well-established actor working under the stage name Stevens, and so when she began her pursuit of a career in entertainment, she too adopted her father’s professional surname. Stevens began performing with a number of singing groups in New York before moving to Los Angeles with her father and appearing in small roles in a number of films.Connie Stevens Bio Continue
The Count Basie Orchestra was created back in the 1930’s, when Count Basie formed a nine-piece band comprised of some of the best musicians of that era. The group quickly expanded to thirteen pieces, and then to sixteen, and began releasing notable hits such as “One O’clock Jump,” bringing the Count Basie Orchestra both critical acclaim and commercial success. Since that time, the Count Basie Orchestra has survived multiple challenges, including the...Count Basie Orchestra Bio Continue
Dave Brubeck has long served as proof that creative jazz and popul success can go together. Although critics who had championed him when he was unknown seemed to scorn him when the Dave Brubeck Quartet became a surprise success, in reality Brubeck never watered down or altered his music in order to gain a wide audience. Creative booking (being one of the first groups to play regully on college campuses) and a bit of luck resulted in great populity, and Dave Brubeck remains one of the few h...Dave Brubeck Quartet Bio Continue
Dion Francis DiMucci was born in 1939 into an Italian-American family living in New York. His father was a vaudeville entertainer, and as a child Dion used to often tag along on his gigs, developing a love of blues, doo-wop, and even country music. He learned to sing the old-fashioned way, perfecting a cappella with other singers right on the streets of New York. Dion auditioned for Mohawk Records in 1957 and landed the deal. He sang the lead against already recorded tracks on &...Dion Bio Continue
Felix Cavaliere was born in 1942 in Pelham, New York. As a child, his mother pushed Felix to learn to play the piano, and he began with lessons at the age of six. When he was fourteen, his mother passed away, and Felix’s piano style shifted from classical, as she’d intended, to more blues and rock, emulating Ray Charles and other performers like him. When he was in high school, Felix Cavaliere formed his first band, the Stereos, and began to sing in addition to playing the Hamm...Felix Cavaliere's Rascals Bio Continue
Jerry Lee Lewis was born into a poverty-stricken, rural area of Louisiana in 1935. He started playing piano while still a child, and surprised his parents when his performing preferences shifted from evangelical music to boogie woogie. Despite the local community’s concern that Jerry Lee had turned to the “devil’s music,” Lewis continued to play in clubs around Louisiana and Mississippi, embracing the new rock ’n’ roll sound that was sweeping the country...Jerry Lee Lewis Bio Continue
Johnny Mathis was born in 1935 in Gilmer, Texas, but grew up in San Francisco, California. Johnny’s father, a vaudeville entertainer, encouraged Johnny’s obvious talent and interest in music, purchasing a used piano for him and encouraging him to learn to play it. Within a short amount of time, Johnny Mathis was performing around town at church functions and school events. When Mathis was thirteen, he bartered with a voice teacher, exchanging lessons for housework. H...Johnny Mathis Bio Continue
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