Original Platters Paul Robi and Herb Reed
‘Remember When’ was just one of many classic Platters songs in the 1950s. Recently surfaced via Youtube a very interesting, enjoyable full length concert
circa 1980s. What’s especially interesting is that it features several groups sans original lead singers; times change, people pass or move on, yet these lead singers
offer if not a better sound a nice change from the originals .
For years I’ve tried to recapture my memories of Paul Robi’s Platters from when I used to see them in the mid-’80s at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, California and low and behold they’re here at Little Darlin’s in Florida, circa 1980s. I did earlier this year – at the fair- see an old schedule noting 1985 as one of the concert years I saw them… Paul Robi was not , technically, an original Platter – he joined them shortly after several originals left the group – and one character and a good singer and songwriter. However, Elmer Hopper, who would later, or earlier, do the leads in versions of Robi’s ’80’s Patters – and in our opinion is a better lead singer for most of the songs – does not do lead hear. Still, Robi is a presence and does a formidable job. Unfortunately, due to the abbreviated nature of this cavalcade show we don’t get to hear much of his humour, which was another part of his charm..But, it’s just great to see and hear Robi, who had the preeminent group after original lead Tony Williams’s early demise. The bass singer, Herb Reed (who we’ll hear from later) and last surviving member of the group until this year also had a group in the later years.
Ddris Jackson was an original member of the Shirrelles and is still charming and beautiful and a great lead in this ’80s version of the Shirelles. Just a nice change of pace to hear her over the equally talented origknal lead, Shirley Alston Reeves, still performing today. Sadly , Jackson, late of Sacramento, passed on at 58 in the ’90s. Jackson was a fixture on the West Coast oldies circut during the ’80s and ’98s.
Often backed by Will Porter’s All Stars she appeared often at Santa Cruz boardwalk and various Bay Area fairs. She had a beautiful soul to go along the voice. She signed autographs long after shows ended. I remember when she pulled out a rare gem, Blue Holiday, during an early Christmas performance. Oh the memories…
There have been a number of Diamonds groups out there and I can’t tell you much about this one but they also did well. Not sure if there was even an original member in this gorup (which is usually a no-no). We generally only support groups with at least one orginal member or who have license to the name. Anyway, also appearing here at Little Darlin’s it was interwsting to hear the Diamonds sing the song the theater was named after , ‘Little Darlin.’
Can’t say for sure about other groups on the show, namely the Crystals or the Dovells – but didn’t look like orginal leads, though the Crystals never really had just one. You’ll also get to see the last surviving member of the Coasters (at the time), Carl Gardner, who also passed this year.
The sound quality may not be up to stereo standards -it’s not stereo – but enjoy nonetheless… and let us know what you think… We’ll try to find some more rarities like this one…
Now, let’s hear the last surviving member – until this year that is – Herb Reed and his recent incarnation; Herb also reflects on the history and care taken to perform even with different members as true to the originals as possible. Reed speaks of manager Buck Ram, the mastermind behind the Platters. Ram wrote many of the songs and managed to keep filling holes as members left the group – and others tried to steal the Platter name and sound. Ram partner, Jean Stevenson(sp?) lives on today and supposedly keeps the orginal Platters name, ‘The Platters.’ If one looks in Google you can find a list of several other leads who weren’t originals, though Sunny Turner probably had the longest run of them and continues to perform today. It was Reed who actually formed the group in 1953 and found Tony Williams for lead and Buck Ram to manage the group – a couple of great moves we’d say! It was a smart move by Buck and group to hire 15-year-old Zola Taylor to add some feminitiy to the group, after which it really skyrockeded. For a time in the 90s Taylor, Robi and Reed all had their own versions of the Platters performing around the world, along with many other less than legitamate ones ENJOY!