1957 Billy Ward and his Dominoes – Deep Purple

1957 Billy Ward and his Dominoes – Deep Purple 

Billy Ward grew up in Philadelphia, playing piano and composing music for it. After serving in the Coast Guard Artillery Choir, he studied at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. He began writing songs with talent agent Rose Marks. The pair created a business that owned their own group. The group was initially named the Ques and changed their name to the Dominoes when they signed with Federal Records. The group included lead singer Clyde McPhatter. Their recordings began charting on the R&B chart in 1951. The single Sixty Minute Man, which featured lead vocals by bass singer Bill Brown, topped the R&B chart and reached #17 on the pop chart. The group successfully toured on the strength of their recordings.

Unhappy with his poor salary from the group, Clyde McPhatter left to form the Drifters in 1953. Jackie Wilson took over the lead vocal chores, and he left the group to pursue a solo career in 1957. His replacement was Gene Mumford, a former lead singer for the Larks. The group then began recording for Liberty Records. They had a hit with a remake of the classic song Star Dust, which peaked at #12 on the Hot 100. The single became the only record by the group to sell over a million copies.

A few months later, the group released another doo-wop cover of a classic song. Peter DeRose wrote Deep Purple as a piece for the piano in 1933. Mitchell Parish wrote lyrics for the song and published them in 1938. Larry Clinton and His Orchestra released a single with vocals by Bea Wain the next year that remained at number one on the charts for nine weeks. Several other artists (including Bing Crosby) charted with the song that year as well.

The version by Billy Ward and his Dominoes peaked at #18 on the Hot 100 in 1957. While the group continued recording singles as late as 1965, they never again reached the top forty of the Hot 100.


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