Herb Reed, the founding father and last surviving original member of the Platters, the vocal group best remebered for 1950s hit recordings of "Only You" and "The Great Pretender," passed away on Monday at a Boston area hospice following a period of declining health at the age of 83.
The Kansas City, Missouri-born Mr. Reed founded the Platters in Los Angeles in 1953.
What was then a quartet won amateur talent shows while at the same time performed nights and weekends up and down the California coast while the members worked days at a car wash and at other odd jobs.
The group underwent several personnel changes, adding a female member to become a quintet in the process, then signed their first major recording contract (with Mercury) in 1955.
Herb, who gave the group its' name from disc jockeys' penchant for calling phonograph records "platters," sang bass on the group's four #1 hits, "Only You" (1955), "The Great Pretender" (1956), "Twilight Time" (1958), and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" (1959).
The Platters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998.
Herb was the only group member to appear on all their nearly 400 recordings.
Here are a couple of televised performances of the Platters in action, starting with their 1956 appearance on The Perry Como Show, singing "The Great Pretender." The other piece is their singing of "Only You" on what looks like an early 1960s telecast with Edd "Kookie" Byrnes and Bob "Maynard G. Krebs (pre-Gilligan)" Denver.
Rest in peace, Herb.