Airdate – Mar 13, 2022
In late 1958, a trio of young men could be found harmonizing in the back of a candy store and on street corners in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, New York. They soon attracted the attention of teen, Joe “Speedo” Frazier, who subsequently joined the group as their lead singer.
In early 1959 an introduction to Alan Freed led to an audition with MGM and a recording contract with Cub Records, an MGM subsidiary. Two months later, thanks to a release that went Top Ten, the group went on tour …
The quartet was somewhat ahead of his time as it was interracial with “Speedo” Frazier being the only black member and the lead singer to boot.
As to the group’s name it was chosen as a result of a car purchase by the father of member Lenny Renda.
The car purchased was a Chevrolet Impala and thus was born The Impalas, a group that would be associated with a record that has become a Rock & Roll standard. That record … “Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home).”
The song became a million seller and reached the #2 position on the Billboard Hot 100, unable to dislodge Dave “Baby” Cortez’ “Happy Organ” from the top of the charts.
Their touring saw them performing with The Skyliners, Chuck Berry, and Frankie Avalon; playing Alan Freed concerts; and, appearing on Ed Sullivan and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.
The Impala’s follow up single, “Oh, What A Fool,” took off right out of the gate but petered out after reaching #86 on the charts with some speculating that this was because Cub stopped promoting the record.
Too bad that someone did not bother to flip the record over and play the B side. That would have been in keeping with our ‘Name Game’ theme as Impala fans would have found out that “Sandy Went Away,” this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.
YouTube video of this song: