The Five Keys

The Five Keys Biography

The Five Keys

The Five Keys; an American R&B vocal quartet that contributed to the development of the early 1950s rhythm and blues movement. The group was founded as the Sentimental Four in 1945 in Newport News, Virginia, and originally consisted of two sets of brothers: Rudy West, first tenor (born 25 July 1932 in Newport News, Virginia, USA, died 14 May 1998 in USA), Bernie West, bass (born 4 February 1930 in Newport News, Virginia, USA), and Ripley Ingram, octave tenor (born 1929, died 23 March 1995 in Newport News, Virginia, USA), and Raphael In (second tenor). The group’s name was altered to Five Keys in 1949 after Raphael Ingram departed and Edwin Hall (baritone) and James “Dickie” Smith (second tenor, born 1933, USA) joined. Maryland Pierce took over for the newlywed Hall in the beginning of the following year, and guitarist Joe Jones was also recruited to the touring lineup.

The Five Keys signed Los Angeles-based Aladdin Records in 1951 with Pierce, Smith, and Rudy West sharing lead vocal duties with Ripley Ingram contributing the genre-defining “floating tenor” aspect at the time. The same year, the group scored a hit with a cover of the classic song “The Glory Of Love,” which peaked at number one on the US R&B chart. The group was now accompanied by pianist Joe Jones, who is unrelated to the previous guitarist. Even though they produced an enticing mix of classic standards and R&B originals for Aladdin, the Five Keys were unable to achieve additional chart success.

Rudy West was replaced by Ulysses K. Hicks when he enlisted in the army in 1952, and Dickie Smith was replaced by Ramon Loper when he left in 1954. With a slight change in sound from a deep rhythm and blues sound to a more pop vein with more instruments in support, the group became famous when this new lineup of Five Keys was signed to Capitol Records. The novelty pop jump “Ling, Ting, Tong” was the group’s first hit for Capitol (US R&B number 5 and Pop Top 30 in 1955). Rudy West re-joined the Five Keys in October 1954 after the initial Capitol recording session, performing alongside the ill Hicks, who passed away from a heart attack a few months later. The phenomenal R&B ballads “Close Your Eyes” by Chuck Willis (R&B number 5, 1955), “The Verdict” (R&B number 13, 1955), and “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind” were more hits for Capitol (R&B number 12 and pop Top 30 in 1956). Old standards were also included in the Capitol content, such as a wonderful rendition of “The Gypsy” by the Ink Spots (1957).

Rudy West and Ramon Loper resigned in 1958, and were succeeded by Charles “Bobby” Crawley and Thomas “Dickie” Threatt (tenor; born 7 February 1938; died 9 October 2007; Norfolk, Virginia, USA) (second tenor). King Records struggled from 1958 to 1961, resulting in further staff changes, fewer tracks that could compete with the new rock ‘n’ roll sounds, no singles, and more personnel changes. In the years that followed, numerous reunion groups recorded sporadic sessions, but the Aladdin, Capitol, and King sessions represent the core of the Five Keys’ legacy.

Discography

The Fantastic Five Keys YouTube
The Five KeysSpotifyAppleYouTubeAmazon
Rhythm & Blues Hits – Past And Present
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On The TownSpotifyYouTubeAmazon

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Genre Is The Five Keys?

The Five Keys are an American doo-wop and R&B vocal group. They are best known for their hit songs “Ling, Ting, Tong” and “Wishin’ and Hopin'” which were both released in 1954. The group’s sound was a mixture of doo-wop, R&B, and Gospel. Their music was characterized by close harmonies and a strong lead singer. The group was also known for their stage presence and choreography.

When Was The Five Keys Most Popular?

The Five Keys were most popular during the 1950s. The group had several hit singles, including “The Glory of Love” and “Ling, Ting, Tong.” The Five Keys were one of the first groups to successfully cross over from the R&B charts to the pop charts.

What Is The Five Keys’S Best Album?

The Five Keys’ best album is undoubtedly “The Very Best of The Five Keys”. Released in 2001, the album contains all of the band‘s greatest hits, including “The Glory of Love”, “Ling, Ting, Tong”, and “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”. If you’re a fan of The Five Keys, or simply looking for a great compilation of classic R&B, this is the album for you.

When Was The Five Keys Most Popular?

The Five Keys were most popular in the 1950s. The group had several hits on the R&B charts, including “The Glory of Love” and “Ling, Ting, Tong.” The Five Keys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

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