Little Anthony & The Imperials Inducted on April 24, 2023
Little Anthony and the Imperials is an American rhythm and blues/soul vocal group from New York City founded by Clarence Collins in the 1950s and named in part for its lead singer, Jerome Anthony "Little Anthony" Gourdine, who was noted for his high-pitched voice. In addition to Collins and Gourdine, the original Imperials included Ernest Wright, Glouster "Nate" Rogers, and Tracey Lord, the last two of whom were subsequently replaced by Sammy Strain. The group was one of the very few doo-wop groups to enjoy sustained success on the R&B and pop charts throughout the 1960s. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 4, 2009, 23 years after the group's first year of eligibility for induction.
Changing their name to "The Imperials", the group signed with End Records in 1958. Their first single was "Tears on My Pillow", which was an instant hit. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. The B-side, "Two People in the World", was also a hit. The group followed up with "Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko Ko Bop" in 1960.
The group's classic line-up – Gourdine, Wright, Collins, and Strain was now complete. With the help of record producer/songwriter Teddy Randazzo (a childhood friend of the group), the Imperials found success on the new DCP (Don Costa Productions) label with the dramatic pop-soul records "I'm on the Outside (Looking In)" (1964), "Goin' Out of My Head" (1964), "Hurt So Bad" (1965), "I Miss You So" (1965), "Take Me Back" (1965), "Hurt" (1966), "Better Use Your Head" (1966), and "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" (1969).
Little Anthony and the Imperials received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Pioneer Award in 1993. They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15, 2006. In 2007, the Imperials were inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame On January 14, 2009, it was announced that Little Anthony and the Imperials had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Gourdine, Wright, Collins, Strain, and Rogers were present to be honored. Deceased original Imperials member Tracey Lord was inducted posthumously; his sons accepted his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction on his behalf. The group was inducted by Smokey Robinson.
Sammy Strain is one of the few artists in popular music history to be a double Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, having been inducted with the O'Jays in 2005 and the Imperials in 2009.