I’m wearing my heart like a crown

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

Herb Reed

Herb Reed

August 7

1928: Herbert Reed is born in Kansas City. He is the founding member of The Platters. Reed is raised in poverty and moves to Los Angeles when he is 15 years old. There in 1953 he teams with Tony Williams, David Lynch, Paul Robi and Zola Taylor to form The Platters — a name Reed comes up with because DJs refer to the records they play on the air as “platters.”   His brilliantly honed vocals lift The Platters to stardom under the management of Buck Ram, who also manages The Penguins. When The Penguins score a huge hit with Earth Angel, Ram persuades Mercury Records to sign a two-for-one contract with The Platters and The Penguins. The Penguins will never have another hit for Mercury, but The Platters become immortals. During their first Mercury recording session, they lay down Only You, a nationwide hit in the summer of 1955. Great Pretender, with lyrics written by Ram in the washroom of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, is the followup. It is The Platters’ first #1 hit and has an 11-week run atop the R&B chart. The Platters are featured performing both songs in the 1956 movie Rock Around the Clock. Reed moves to Boston later in life, where he wages a years-long legal battle over rights to The Platters name. Reed dies in  June 2012 of complications from several illnesses, two years before his estate wins rights to “The Platters.”  Let Herb Reed’s vocals cut through the morning fog and make your world seem right:


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