SPOTLIGHT ON THE ORIOLES - PART ONE
"Please Give My Heart A Break"/
"Forgive And Forget"/
"What Are You Doing New Year's Eve"/
Above: The Orioles (Top L-R) Alex Sharp (tenor), George Nelson (baritone), Johnny Reed (bass, bassist), (Bottom L-R) Sonny Til (lead tenor), and Tommy Gaither (tenor, guitarist)
Click HERE for an article about The Orioles by Marv Goldberg. (Will open in a separate window)
STORY OF "ORIOLES" IS STORY OF SUCCESS AS HIT NUMBER CLICKS (OCTOBER 16, 1948):
NEW YORKOne of the greatest, success stories of the year is that of The Orioles, distinctive new vocal group, whose smash hit recording of "It's Too Soon To Know" has skyrocketed them across the magical horizon almost overnight. It was just a few short months ago that The Orioles were working in an obscure night club in their native Baltimore for next to nothing in the way of financial compensation. They did, however, have a way of pleasing their audiences, especially with their rendition of "It's Too Soon To Know, which was written by an obscure Baltimore songwriter, Deborah Chessler.
Jerry Blaine, former bandleader who has since seen service as a recording executive for several leading companies, happened to catch the group one night and immediately tabbed their version of "It's Too Soon To Know" as a surefire jukebox hit. As a matter of fact, he had so much confidence in what he had heard that he formed his own recording company, the It's A Natural label, and went into business on the strength of the waxings he made with The Orioles.
Thanks to their disc of "It's Too Soon To Know," which is currently just about the hottest piece of wax in the nation's jukeboxes, The Orioles now rate upwards of $2000 a week for theater and nitery dates and have more offers of major bookings than they can possibly fulfill. They've just wound up a record-breaking week at the Royal Theater in Baltimore, and currently headline on stage of the 125th Street Apollo Theater in Harlem. They go into the Kingston Lounge, Brooklyn, N.Y., starting Friday, October 15, and then take the stage of the Howard Theater, Washington, D.C., the week of October 22.
[Above news release provided by Richard Koloda.]
INDIANAPOLIS RECORDER, March 5, 1949: ORIOLES ON TELEVISION
NEW YORKThe Orioles, whose recent hit records have skyrocketed them into the big money brackets, have become the latest musical attraction to register success in the new and rapidly expanding medium of television. The popular vocal group bowed into video via a guest shot on NBC's musical variety telecast, "Eddie Condon's Floor Show," and followed up with another appearance on disk-jockey Bill Cook's new "Club Caravan" on televison station WATV.
That the Orioles are a cinch for future video stardom was indicated by the reviews of their appearances, which hailed the Orioles as "the most entertaining and versatile of all vocal groups in a visual sense." Agent Billy Shaw is currently weighing several bids to sign the group for a regular television series.
Above: The Orioles in 1948 (Photo by Bobby Thomas).
THE CASH BOX COVER, December 18, 1948:
CAPTIONMusic operators throughout the nation can thank The Orioles, pictured above, for giving them one of the hottest hits this past year. Their sensational recording of "It's Too Soon To Know" caught on like wild fire, and since then has sky-rocketed the vocal combination to the forefront of the music world. Pictured above, left to right, Tommy Gaither, Alex Sharp, George Nelson, Sonny Til and John Reed, during a recent engagement at the Paradise Theatre, Detroit, Mich. The group is continuing their meteoric rise to fame and success via their current smash personal appearance tour. The Orioles are exclusively featured on Jubilee Records. Direction: Billy Shaw. Personal Management: Jerry Blaine. Press Relations: Jim McCarthy.
[NOTE: Their personal manager was actually Deborah Chessler. This looks to be the Buddy Johnson Orchestra behind them. Can anyone confirm?
Marv Goldberg confirms it is the Buddy Johnson Orchestra. From Detroit Free Press dated 11/21/48:]
Above: The Orioles (L-R) Sonny Til, Johnny Reed, Tommy Gaither, George Nelson, and Alex Sharp.
NEW YORK AGE, October 21, 1950: THE FUN WENT ROUND AND ROUND
....The champs of the theatrical world, the Orioles, a wonderful group of singers, came 75 miles just to appear at the Round Robin and, if you could have seen the women swooning and fainting as they sang their hit recordings, you would realize why they're as popular as they are. Thanks to Deborah Chessler, manager of the Orioles, for bringing the boys to entertain....
PHOTO CAPTION: At last week's Round Robin at Al's Bar [in NYC] everybody had fun, oodles and oodles of it, as you can see by the happy faces in the photo above.... That's the Rev. Bill Bailey in the back standing, who's wishing the Orioles more success. Also standing by are Arthur Prysock and the manager of the Orioles, Deborah Chessler [directly below the Reverend]....
Above: From The Cash Box dated 9/4/48.
Above: Label image for It's A Natural 5000, recorded and released in July 1948. It was re-issued on Jubilee 5000 the following month.
THE CASH BOX, August 28, 1948: PASS 30,000 FIRST WEEK
NEW YORKNatural Records reported this past week that their initial release by The Orioles, "Barbra Lee" and "It's Too Soon To Know," which captured the "Race Disk Of The Week" in The Cash Box, August 21 issue, passed the 30,000 sales mark its very first week.
Also interesting, the firm reports, is the fact that six different publishers are now bidding for the tune, "It's Too Soon To Know." It is expected that by the time this item reached print one of these firms will have closed a deal for the song.
PITTSBURGH COURIER, January 15, 1949: ORIOLES RETURN TO CLUB ASTORIA IN BLAZE OF GLORY
BALTIMORE, Md.The Orioles, unnoticed in this city when they last appeared, returned to open a successful engagement at the Astoria Lounge for more than triple the salary they were earning a few months ago. Their boom in popularity depended largely upon their waxing of "It's Too Soon To Know," a song written by their mentor, Deborah Chessler.... [NOTE: She also wrote the flip side "Barbra Lee".]
When they close this homecoming engagement at the local nitery, the Orioles will begin a tour of one-night stands, covering the Southern and Mid-western States.
NOTE: Others to release "It's Too Soon To Know" in 1948 include The Ravens (National), Charioteers (Columbia), Deep River Boys (RCA Victor), Jimmy Valentine Quintet (Varsity), Dinah Washington (Mercury), Ella Fitzgerald (Decca), Marian Robinson (M-G-M), and Lee Richardson (King).
Above: The Cash Box 9/11/48
Above: The Cash Box 10/2/48
Above: The Cash Box 11/10/48
Above: The Cash Box 12/17/49
Listen to "To Be To You" - The Orioles - Jubilee 5001 - 1948 (Windows Media Player). [Audio provided by Dave Saviet]
Above: The Cash Box 5/6/50
At Left: The Cash Box 2/5/49
Note that "To Be To You" is now paired with "Dare To Dream"
Above: The Cash Box 5/27/50
Above: Label image of Jubilee 5002 recorded late in 1948 and released in February 1949. This is the third of many records The Orioles had released on the Jubilee label (1948-56).
The line-up for this record, and continuing on through Jubilee 5051, is Sonny Til, Johnny Reed, George Nelson, Alex Sharp, and Tommy Gaither. As was their standard formula for ballads, Sonny Til sings the main lead and George Nelson sings the bridge part.
The Cash Box Race Disk O' The Week (1/29/49):THE ORIOLES JUBILEE 5002.... Please Give My Heart A Break/It Seems So Long Ago
It's The Orioles out with a fresh biscuit, and one that seems certain to grab a top spot in music ops machines in the very near future. Make no mistake about itthis group is destined to be one of the nation's foremost combinations. This disking tagged "Please Give My Heart A Break" will certainly bear fruit and blossom into a sensational money-maker for music ops from Maine to California. The vocal harmony displayed here is hard to beat, with the fine vocal tenor solo hogging a well deserved limelight throughout the disking. Phrasing of the smooth, plush lyrics makes for wonderful listening pleasure. It's slow, tempting stuff, the kind you wanna hear time and again. Lyrics of the song make you feel the glowing mood of the song. It's the type of ditty to which romancers can snuggle closely and is sure to meet with wide approval. On the flip with "It Seems So Long Ago", the group once again display their vocal harmony to perfection with another ballad that showcases their versatile styling to excellent advantage. We go for the top deckwe're sure you will, too.
The Billboard Review (2/12/49):THE ORIOLES JUBILEE 5002....
It Seems So Long Ago (79) The hot group turns out a good etching of a fair tune.
Please Give My Heart A Break (85) Here's the formulasimple tune, note-bending deliverythat could give the group the follow-up to "It's Too Soon To Know."
(NOTE: A ratings range of 70-79 was considered "good" and 80-89 "excellent.")
Above: Label image of Jubilee 5016 recorded on September 25, 1949 and released in October 1949.
The Cash Box Award O' The Week (11/5/49):THE ORIOLES JUBILEE 5016.... Forgive And Forget/So Much
By far one of the greatest platters this group has offered to date is headed music operators way in a blaze of glory. It's one of the nation's hottest vocal combo's on tap to render a song that will surely catch on and go like wildfire in juke boxes throughout the land. The Orioles' rendition of "Forgive And Forget" is a side that even looms to surpass the wide success this combo scored with "Am I Asking Too Much [sic*]." This disk, with the vocal group purring the lyrics of this wonderful melody in first rate harmony, is a cinch to clinch with music ops and phono fans. The vocal beauty displayed on the side is hard to matchit's that good. Tempo is slow and infectious throughout, with light dainty melody seeping thru the background. On the other end with "So Much," the group comes back with another grade A performance that should thrill their many fans. Ops shouldn't hesitate one second with this platter. Grab it by the boxful!
(NOTE: *"Am I Asking Too Much" was not an Orioles song, nor was there any similarly titled song. Note that Deborah Chessler is composer of "Forgive And Forget".)
Above: Label image of Jubilee 5017 released in November 1949. "What Are You Doing..." was recorded on September 25, 1949. "Lonely Christmas" was first issued as Jubilee 5001 in November 1948 and was recorded a short time before that.
The Cash Box Award O' The Week (12/10/49):THE ORIOLES JUBILEE 5017.... What Are You Doing New Year's Eve/Lonely Christmas
There's no stopping this group! Continuing their smash chain of recorded successes, The Orioles come up with still another great bit of wax in this coupling. There are no A or B sides to this platterboth are top notch juke box material. The vocal harmony of The Orioles on this pair is superb right from the very first note. Top deck is a tune that has won acclaim sometime agothis rendition is a cinch to catch on and go like wildfire. It's smooth vocal work from start to finish, and is sure to thrill music fans immensely. On the other end with "Lonely Christmas," the group offers a smooth, sentimental seasonal item that should please ops and fans alike. It's in the somber, quiet vein, and makes you stop and listen attentively. Both sides of this platter are sure to be greated with wide fervor by the Orioles' many fans. Ops should latch on!
Above: Label image of Jubilee 5025 released in March 1950. "At Night" was recorded in 1948 and the flip in 1949.
Above Left: Label image of Jubilee 5026 released in May 1950. "Moonlight" was recorded in 1949 and the flip on February 17, 1950.
The Orioles' last recordings for Jubilee were in 1955. An "Orioles" group, still led by Sonny Til, moved on to the Vee-Jay label in 1956.
The Cash Box Review (3/3/51):THE ORIOLES JUBILEE 5026.... Moonlight/I Wonder When
Upper circle is a hot comer that looks as though it may be one of the top ballads of the Summer season. "Moonlight" features the competent quintet turning in a sock arrangement with tremendous scope for a group harmony effort. Number itself is an artful engraving of a tender opus. Flip is a ballad featuring a deceptive male lead. "Moonlight" is our bet to happen very big.
NOTE: A very special thanks to Joe Marchesani for his contribution to this Record of the Week.
NOTE: Most discographical information provided at this website is from Ferdie Gonzalez' Disco-File.
Listen to this week's selections featuring The Orioles on Jubilee from 1949 and 1950 using Windows Media Player:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. Please Give My Heart A Break
2. It Seems So Long Ago
3. Forgive And Forget
4. So Much
5. What Are You Doing New Year's Eve
6. (It's Gonna Be A) Lonely Christmas
7. At Night
8. Every Dog-Gone Time
10. I Wonder When
ALL TEN played in sequence
ALL FOURTEEN SONGS ON THIS PAGE played in sequence
[To download audio files, right-click on link and then select "Save link (target) as..."]