The Cleftones Biography
The Cleftones were an American vocal “doo-wop” group formed in 1955 in Jamaica, Queens, New York. They were then called The Silvertones at Junior High School 40. Its original members were Herbie Cox (lead singer), Charlie James McGhee (first tenor), Berman Patterson (second tenor), Warren Corbin (bass) and William “Buzzy” McClane (baritone).
They began performing at community events, concerts, and even a Jewish summer camp. In 1955, well-known producer George Goldner signed them to a recording contract and renamed them The Cleftones. They had a few little hits, but nothing truly blew up in their favor. Corbin and Patterson wrote “You Baby You,” a smash in 1955, on their first attempt as professional musicians. For the ensemble, Herb Cox penned “Little Girl of Mine” and “Can’t We Be Sweethearts.” However, after a few small songs (“Why You Do Me Like You Do” and “See You Next Year”), they would not have another significant hit for years.
They underwent some personnel changes in 1961 and released their biggest success, “Heart and Soul,” which was written by Hoagy Carmichael and Frank Loesser in 1938 and recorded by the group in 1959 but not released until 1961. It charted at #18 on Billboard and has since been known as a classic example of “doo-wop” music.
The following year, they had another hit with “For Sentimental Reasons.” Unfortunately for the group, the “British Invasion,” led by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Animals, began that same year and turned into an avalanche, burying the “doo wop” sound and ending the careers of many of the genre’s most popular groups, including The Cleftones. From 1962 to 1966, Gene Pearson sang with The Drifters. The Cleftones disbanded in 1964, three years after their biggest hit, “Heart and Soul.”
‘It seems like everyone and his brother had a singing group back in the ’50s,’ tenor Berman Patterson said in 2000 of his time with The Cleftones. I believe we were noticed because we lacked the usual rhythm-and-blues sound. We smelt like bubblegum. Something energizing and invigorating. But let me tell you something: once you became famous, you were supposed to work. At the Apollo Theater, I used to play five gigs a night. We were paid $500 to split five ways and went on every hour.
Herb Cox (born Herbert Alexander Cox on May 6, 1938) died on December 7, 2019, in Fayetteville, Georgia, at the age of 81.
Some of their songs were featured in films as follows:
- “Can’t We Be Sweethearts” appeared in the film Goodfellas.
- “Heart and Soul” appeared in the films American Graffiti, Mischief and Family Guy.
- “Little Girl of Mine” appeared in the film A Bronx Tale.
- “Lover Boy” appeared in the film Drive.
- “My Angel Lover” appeared in the film Susie Q.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Were The Cleftones?
The Cleftones were an American doo-wop group, formed in 1955. The group’s original lineup consisted of lead singer Herman Curtis, first tenor and founding member Eddie Williams, baritone and bass Bill Horton, and second tenor Warren Corbin. The Cleftones are best known for their hits “Heart and Soul” and “You Belong to Me”.
Who Wrote The Song Little Girl Of Mine By The Cleftones?
The song Little Girl of Mine was written by the Cleftones.
Where Are The Cleftones From?
The Cleftones were an American doo-wop group, formed in 1955 in the Bronx, New York City. The original members were Herb Reed, Warren Corbin, Bill Horton, and Bernard Purdie. The group’s name was a combination of the words “clef” and “tones”.
When Was Heart And Soul By The Cleftones Released?
Heart and Soul by the Cleftones was released in 1961.