The Five Satins Biography

This R&B vocal group was formed in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, in 1955. The Five Satins’ first hit, ‘In The Still Of The Nite’ (US R&B number 3 and pop Top 30 in 1956), was one of the definitive songs of the early rock ‘n’ roll era, with its strong chanting of doo-wop riffs in the background and impassioned lead work. The group on this record consisted of lead Fred Parris, Al Denby, Ed Martin, bass Jim Freeman and pianist Jessie Murphy. Parris, who wrote the song, brought valuable experience to the Five Satins, having formed the Scarlets (Parris, Denby, Bill Powers, Sylvester Hopkins and Nate Mosely) in 1953, a group that hit regionally with ‘Dear One’ in 1954. The long-cherished national success for Parris was initially denied him, as he was in the army stationed in Japan when ‘In The Still Of The Nite’ became a hit, and the wonderful follow-up, ‘To The Aisle’ (US R&B number 5 and pop Top 30 in 1957), featured a reorganized group with Bill Baker (Auburn, Alabama, USA, d. 10 August 1994, New Haven, Connecticut, USA) as lead. Parris returned from Japan in 1958 and again reorganized the Five Satins, recruiting tenor Richie Freeman (b. December 1940), second tenor West Forbes (b. 1937), Sylvester Hopkins and Lou Peeples. This group was not able to secure another big hit, although ‘Shadows’ (US R&B number 27, 1959) kept their name visible. Their profile was significantly enhanced with the release of Art Laboe’s firstOldies But Goodies, which included ‘In The Still Of The Nite’. As a result, the song helped to create the doo-wop revival in the early 60s and re-entered the national pop chart in 1961. The Five Satins broke up in the early 60s, but re-formed and became a perennial on the live circuit in the 70s. The new group consisted of Parris, Richie Freeman, Jimmy Curtis and Nate Marshall. Under the name Black Satin, they had a number 49 R&B hit in 1975 with ‘Everybody Stand And Clap Your Hands (For The Entertainer)’. Another hit followed in 1982 with the medley ‘Memories Of Days Gone By’, before Parris and his various personnel returned to the oldies circuit.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.