The Magic Touch : The Platters - part two

The early months of 1958 are spent doing a number of personal appearances in the United States before another long international tour. This time The Platters will spend five months in Europe including an appearance at the World's Fair in Brussels, Belgium. As the group is about to depart Mercury issues the LP album called "The Flying Platters Around The World" on #20366, and their newest single is a Buck Ram song that was a big hit for a group he previously managed, The Three Subs. The song is "Twilight Time" and is backed with "Out Of My Mind" on # 71289. The new record vaults up the hit parade and looks to become the group's biggest hit since "My Prayer". In Rome, the group has an audience with Pope Pius XII. While in Rome the group films a segment for an Italian movie and also films a bit to be used on the Ed Sullivan TV show in the U.S. By July "Twilight Time" is a huge hit that sells over one million (the group's fourth gold record) and seemingly swallows up "You're making A Mistake" and "My Old Flame" on # 71320, and "I Wish" and "It's Raining Outside" on # 71353. With the European tour concluded and after some time off, The Platters open in Las Vegas in time to introduce their new recording for Mercury "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and "No Matter What You Are" on # 71383. "Smoke" quickly gets to the top of the national pop charts and becomes the second million seller of the year for the group.

In January of 1959 The Platters sign on for "The Biggest Show Of Stars" a rare one nighter tour in the U.S. by the group. The tour will begin late in the month and last for three weeks. Mercury plans to produce a solo LP album by Tony Williams. In February The Platters sign to record the title song from a new motion picture called " The Sound And The Fury" for 20th Century Fox, and also will appear in the movie "Girls Town" with Paul Anka, Ray Anthony, and Mel Torme. Mercury releases the group's recording of "The Sound And The Fury" coupled with "Enchanted" on # 71427. In April the group embarks on a tour of Australia and Ram re-signs the group to Mercury Records for three more years. In May Buck Ram is working on an autobiographical film of his career with The Platters, and an instrumental version of "Only You" by French bandleader Frank Pourcell is heading up the charts on both sides of the Atlantic ( it would wind up selling more than two million copies). The newest recording by the group - "Remember When" and "Love Of A Lifetime" on # 71467 will be released on stereo 45 rpm by Mercury. In July it is announced that Tony Williams solo LP will be called "The Namedropper" , and that after a early 1960 tour by The Platters he may leave the group. Also that month the planned tour of England is postponed because of a medical emergency to Zola Taylor. In August the four male members of The Platters make the headlines but not because of music. They are arrested on morals charges in Cincinnati and the facts of the incident are lost in the sensationalizing of the story by the print press and television. In September "Where" and "Wish It Were Me" are released by Mercury on # 71502, and get into the upper reaches of the national pop charts. In December Mercury puts out an album called "Newies But Goodies" which features three songs by The Platters. That month the four members of the group arrested in Cincinnati in August were acquitted of all charges in court in that city. "My Secret" and "What Does It Matter"are released by Mercury on # 71538. The group leaves in mid December for an extended European tour beginning with U.S. military bases in Germany.

As a new decade began Mercury Records released another pop standard done by The Platters. The tune was "Harbor Lights" and together with "Sleepy Lagoon" on # 71563, the group had another hit seller. Tony Williams solo album for Mercury is called "A Girl Is A Girl" on # 60138. "Harbor Lights" is a big seller getting to number five on the national pop charts, however it would be the last time the group gets into the top ten best sellers. Hoping to appease the lead singer of the group, from now on the labels on all recordings will be listed as by "The Platters Featuring Tony Williams". In May "Ebb Tide" and "Apple Blossom Time" two pop standards are released on # 71624. More pop standards followed - "Red Sails In The Sunset" ("Sad River" on the flip side) on # 71656, "To Each His Own" (with "Down The River Of Dreams") on # 71697, and "If I Didn't Care" (with "True Lover") on # 71749. Most of the 'A' side ballads charted in the top thirty nationally. By early 1961 Tony Williams made good on his desire to leave the group. His place was taken by Sonny Turner, as Williams went to Frank Sinatra's newly formed Reprise label to record as a solo artist. "Trees" and "Immortal Love" were released by Mercury on # 71791 to little impact and the first record with Sonny Turner was the pop oldie "I'll Never Smile Again" with "You Don't Say" on # 71847 which was a top twenty five seller. Mercury released "It's Magic" and "Reaching For A Star" on # 71921 in early 1962 from an earlier session with The Platters and was the last single with Tony Williams on lead. By then Zola Taylor had left the group and was replaced by Sandra Dawn. Soon after Paul Robi also left and was replaced by Nate Nelson ("the voice of champagne") from The Flamingos. The remaining Mercury sides with Sonny Turner did not chart, and by 1966 Buck Ram had The Platters signed to record for the Musicor label.

The group that recorded for Musicor included Sonny Turner on lead, Nate Nelson, original members David Lynch and Herb Reed, and Sandra Dawn. This group had some success in the mid sixties right in the teeth of the soul music-psychedelic movements. "I Love You 1000- Times" on Musicor # 1166 was a top thirty seller across the country ("Hear, See, Speak No Evil" was the other side) during the summer of 1966. The following year "With This Ring" ( and "If I Had A Love") was an even bigger hit getting as high as number 14 on the best sellers national pop charts, their biggest hit in seven years. That was the last time the group would chart, but they have never left the public eye. They have been a part of the music scene ever since, sometimes creating a ball of confusion as there have been many different versions of the Platters appearing around the country and the world. Original members Tony Williams, Paul Robi and David Lynch have passed away, and Zola Taylor was involved in the Frankie Lymon royalties fiasco, and Herb Reed soldiers on with his own group of Platters. Buck Ram who also has passed had his own version of The Platters with lead singer Monroe Powell and bass Gene Williams for many years.

The Platters were responsible for twenty two top forty selling singles five of which were million sellers. Also in the age of the single record they had five top selling albums two of which were gold records - "Encore Of Golden Hits" and its sequel "More - ". They appeared in countless motion pictures both here in this country and abroad, and were the most popular face on the field of the vocal groups of the fifties. With their long trail of reworked popular music standards they may not have appealed to all those interested in the R & B vocal group sound, but their massive popularity and acceptance cannot be denied. Fifty years later their sound still endures and is still a favorite of many people the world over. For this music that does endure two Mercury CDs fit the bill. "All Time Greatest Hits" is just that-16 top sellers from Mercury plus the two chart hits on Musicor; and for a more complete sound there is "The Magic Touch : An Anthology" a two CD collection with 50 records from the Mercury vaults. The music does indeed, live on !

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