Thurston Harris (1931-1990) was an R&B and pop/rock singer whose claim to one-hit wonder fame was his million-selling hit “Little Bitty Pretty One” during the mid-50s music era. Harris was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. As a professional singer he started as a member of an R&B/doo-wop group the Lamplighters, who later evolved themselves into the Tenderfoots and later The Sharps. Finally the group, this time without Harris, became the Rivingtons who scored a novelty hit single “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow.” Harris, as a solo singer, had “Little Bitty Pretty One” as his one and only major hit, and unless you could count his other singles and minor hits “Over and Over” and “Do What You Did,” Harris would fall into the ranks of one-hit wonder acts. After jumping from one label to another (that included Cub, Dot, and United Artists, to mention a few) without success, he finally quit the music business to work as a city bus driver. He then found another employment at Universal Studios as a bus guide for tourists; Harris died of a heart attack in 1990, aged 58. “Little Bitty Pretty One” remains to be really popular up to this day, most especially in the United Kingdom.
Thurston Harris’ early days
Thurston Harris is known nowadays for his only chart hit “Little Bitty Pretty One.” He was born on July 11, 1931, in Indianapolis, Indiana. The American singer had his first professional singing stint in 1953 as the vocalist for the Lamplighters, an R&B group from South Central Los Angeles. During his stay with the band, they would frequently change names such as The Tenderfoots and the Rivingtons
Thurston Harris on Aladdin Records with “Little Bitty Pretty One”
Harris started his solo career in 1957, signing to Aladdin Records. However, he still had his former band members to back him up on his version of a Bobby Day’s original “Little Bitty Pretty One” that would become his best known recording. The song reached the top 2 spot on the R&B chart and crossed over to the pop chart where it landed at #6. It also sold over one million copies and earned a gold disc award. Different colors of “Little Bitty Pretty One”‘s 45s was issued by that time which was very uncommon. The record had colors of purple, blue and maroon. During that time, Harris’ former group switched to another name The Rivingtons, who also gained attention via their hit novelty song “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow.”
The following year, Harris issued his two final records “Do What You Did” and “Over and Over” which would become his final chart entries, reaching #57 and #96 on the Billboard Hot 100 respectively. After Harris’ time on Aladdin, he later moved to several labels such as on Cub, Dot, Imperial, Intro, Reprise & United Artists. Unfortunately, he never again approached the success of “Little Bitty Pretty One.” Harris left the music business and worked as a bus driver. He died of a heart attack on April 14, 1990 in Pomona, California.