Beginning as the Chesters in 1957, Little Anthony and the Imperials are a legendary Doo-Wop rhythm and blues/soul vocal ensemble founded in Brooklyn, New York by tenor Clarence Collins, Countertenor/Falsetto and principal singer Jerome Anthony “Little Anthony” Gourdine, Ernest Wright, bass Glouster “Nate” Rogers, and tenor Tracey Lord. The teenage boys were born in the early 1940s and attended Boys’ High School in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.
The group changed its name in 1958 and began producing a string of chart hits, including their first hit, “Tears On My Pillow” (1958) on the End label. It entered Billboard’s Top 100 chart and peaked at #4, spent 19 weeks on the Top 100. It also reached #2 on Billboard’s R&B Singles chart selling more than one million copies. The flip side of the record, “Two Kinds of People,” also became a hit as well.
The ensemble briefly separated in 1961 but reunited in 1963. In 1964 they released, “I’m on the Outside Looking In” which was a Billboard Top 20 Pop hit, peaking at # 15. During that same year, “Goin’ Out of My Head” entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #75 and peaked #6. Additionally, the song peaked at #8 on Cashbox magazine’s R&B chart.
In 1965, Little Anthony and the Imperials released another hit, “Hurts So Bad.” This single entered Billboard’s Hot Top 100 chart and peaked at #10 for one week before spending eight additional weeks in the Top 100. It also reached #3 on Billboard’s R&B Singles chart.
A decade later, in 1975, Little Anthony and the Imperials released the album Hold On on Avco’s label. While the musical composition was appealing, it was not a financial success.
In 1993, Little Anthony and the Imperials were awarded the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award. Six years later in 1999 they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. They were inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006. The following year, 2007, they were inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. In 2009, Little Anthony and the Imperials were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2008 the ensemble released the album You’ll Never Know and performed on the Late Show with David Letterman. However, Tracey Lord, one of the original members, died on March 19, 2008, at 68.
As of 2021, all of the still living original members of Little Anthony and the Imperials are in their eighties with plans to perform at the Willwood Convention Center in Willwood, New Jersey, on October 16, 2021.