JOE "SPEEDO" FRAZIER
Born 5 September 1943, New York City, New York
Joe Frazier was the lead singer and only black member of the Impalas, a vocal quartet from Brooklyn who are best remembered for their 1959 hit "Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home)". The group was formed in 1958 by Tony Carlucci (first tenor), Richard Wagner (baritone) and Lenny Renda (second tenor). They began practicing in the back room of a candy store and on local street corners, where they were heard by Joe Frazier, who called himself Speedo. His offer to help their harmonies turned into a full-fledged frontrunning spot with the group. They issued a song called "First Date" on the small Hamilton label, which went unnoticed. One evening their street-corner singing attracted the attention of Artie Zwirn and Aristides Giosasi (Gino of the act Gino and Gina, "Pretty Baby", # 20, 1958), who liked their sound and also had an original song called "Sorry, I Ran All The Way Home". In early 1959 an introduction to Alan Freed led to an MGM audition and a record deal with MGM's Cub subsidiary. "Sorry" became a # 2 hit single on the pop charts and peaked at # 14 R&B. It managed to make it to the UK at # 28 in the summer of 1959. The famous "uh-oh" at the beginning of the record was not intended, but a knee-jerk utterance by Speedo acknowledging that he had missed the cue given by Leroy Holmes, the arranger and conductor of the session. The A&R man said to leave it in there, so the "uh-oh" was repeated on the next take. The follow-up, "Oh What A Fool", also penned by Zwirn and Giosasi, had 100,000 advance sales. This led Cub to believe that no promotion was necessary and the single was given only the slightest exposure. A big mistake : the record died at # 86. Two more Cub singles and an LP followed, but there were no further hits and after a final single for 20th Century in 1961, the Impalas hit the pavement. "Speedo" Frazier went on to sing with Love's Own in 1973. In 1980, he resurrected the Impalas as a touring act ; they also issued one single, "My Hero" on UGHA in 1982.
CD: Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home) - Collectables. Rerelease of the 1960 Cub LP.
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