The Paragons Biography

This R&B vocal group was formed in 1955 in Brooklyn, New York, USA. With their high false falsetto and exotic warbling, the Paragons represented a rock ‘n’ roll doo-wop sound - sometimes called ‘greasy’ - that was extremely popular on the east coast in the late 50s. The members were Al Brown (bass), Ricky Jackson (first tenor), Donald Travis (baritone), Julius McMichael (25 November 1935, USA, d. June 1981; lead) and Gable ‘Ben’ Frazier (second tenor). The group was signed by producer/songwriter Paul Winley in 1957 and their first record on the Winley label, ‘Florence’/‘Hey Little School Girl’ was a local New York hit in early 1957. Later that year they followed that hit with another remarkable ballad, ‘Let’s Start Over Again’. Two further singles followed for Winley (‘Two Hearts Are Better Than One’ and ‘Twilight’) before McMichael left to join the Olympics and was replaced by Bill Witt. Al Brown also left and was replaced by David Outlaw. Witt, too, was gone by the time the Paragons recorded their last single release for Winley, ‘So You Will Know’, replaced by Neville ‘Buddy’ Payne. Alan Moore then took over from Payne and Jackson was replaced by John May before Outlaw left the group, who continued to record as a quartet with no bass. The Paragons had no more hits, but continued to record fine music into the 60s, releasing singles for Leonetti, Tap and Music Clef, and an album for Musictone. They disbanded in 1967, although latter-day member Bill Witt revived the Paragons name in the following decade.

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

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