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The Five Satins are an R&B vocal group famous for their R&B hit in 1956 “In the Still Of The Nite”. The band’s origins were in New Haven in Connecticut and formed in 1954. The original members consisted of Fred Parris (the leader), Lou Peebles, Stanley Dortch, Ed Martin, Nat Mosley and Jim Freeman; the Five Satins would undergo several lineup changes in the course of their long career. The achieved their first big hit in “In The Still of the Nite” in the mid-50s music era; around this time the members had reorganized, with Peebles and Dortch exiting the band and Al Denby becoming the newest addition. After the success of the single, Parris entered the US Army and the group adding in new members, and scoring another major hit in “To The Aisle” in 1957. Upon Parris’ discharge from the Army, the Five Satins had a lineup shuffle anew. For a time they called themselves “Fred Parris and the Scarlets” before using the name The Five Satins again. In every decade up to the present, the Five Satins’ constant lineup changes have involved 20-plus members coming in and out of the group. They were inducted into the Vocal Hall Group of Fame in 2003 for their lasting contributions in vocal-oriented music. The present lineup consists of Parris, Richie Freeman, Eugene Dobbs and Nadina Perry, and still actively performs particularly to audiences throughout the Northeast.
Who are the Five Satins?
American doo-wop group the Five Satins, famous for their hit “In the Still of the Nite,” was formed in New Haven, Connecticut in the 1954. High-schooler Fred Parris led a group called The Scarlets the year before; they even had a chart hit with “Dear One.”
As soon as the Five Satins were formed, the initial lineup consisted of Al Denby, Ed Martin, Jim Freeman and Parris himself.
The group’s first and greatest hit “In the Still of the Nite”
Parris wrote a song titled “In the Still of the Nite,” sometimes titled “(I Remember) In the Still of the Night.” They recorded it at a basement of a Catholic school in New Haven, with Marty Krugell producing it. When the Five Satins first released it in the spring of 1956 (on Standard Records, then leased to Ember label), the title was “In the Still of the Night.” The record became a huge hit, peaking at #3 on the Billboard R&B singles chart and #24 on the Billboard pop chart that year. It went on to become an R&B/doo-wop classic.
Other hits and the group’s lineup changes
However, by the time “In the Still of the Nite” started to climb the charts, he had been drafted to the US Army. This forced the group to reform once again with new lead singer Bill Baker as well as original members Freeman and Martin plus new members Tommy Killebrew and Jessie Murphy. This new lineup released another single “To the Aisle,” which became a hit again in 1957 as it peaked at #5 on the R&B singles chart and #25 on the pop chart. The success proved that Baker was a competent replacement.
Parris was discharged in 1958 and returned to the group, which naturally re-organized once again with new members West Forbes, Richie Freeman, Sylvester Hopkins and Lou Peebles. They started to be called as “Fred Parris as the Starlets” for a short time before reverting back to The Five Satins. They released another single “Shadows,” became only a minor hit in 1959.
“In the Still of the Nite” made a return to the Billboard pop chart in 1960 (#81), thanks to the compilation from radio disc jockey Art Laboe, who is credited for coining the term “oldies but goodies.” The minor chart success of the single prompted another minor hit for the band “I’ll Be Seeing You.” (#79) in 1960.
Througout the 1960s and the 1970s the Five Satins toured and performed for the oldies circuit, around the US and Europe. During those times Parris would change his group’s name such as Fred Parris and the Restless Hearts and the Black Satin before going back to the Five Satins once again.
In 1982 the Five Satins had their last charting single yet with “Memories of Days Gone By” (#71 pop, #32 adult contemporary), a doo-wop medley. Since then, Fred Parris has been leading his group which has experienced different lineup shifts. The current members are Parris, Richie Freeman, Eugene Dobbs, Bonita Brooks, Pat Marafiote, James Moore, Gregory Borino and Jerry Langley (Baker had died in 1994). They still perform throughout the Northeast on a regular basis and continue to record new songs.
The Five Satins were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003, while their biggest hit “In the Still of the Night” was ranked #90 on the “500 Greatest Songs” in the music magazine Rolling Stone. They remain as oldies music favorites up to the present.