1953 – The Starting Lineup
The year is 1953, the place Los Angeles, California. It is here a recently discharged young Army veteran named Herb Reed recruited Cornell Gunther, Joe Jefferson, and Alex Hodge to form a vocal quartet he would eventually name The Platters. The name came from the metal disk, or “platters,” that rotate vinyl records and facilitate the playing of recordings on the turntable of a phonograph. These four men were The “original” Platters.
1954 – The Kickoff
After a failed attempt at recording Only You (and You Alone) on Federal Records in 1954, Jefferson, Gunther and Hodge left the group and were immediately replaced by Tony Williams, David Lynch, and Paul Robi. That same year, Zola Taylor joined becoming the first female vocalist to break through the gender divide as part of an all-male vocal group. This second lineup of the newly formed quintet is often mistakenly referred to as the “original Platters.”
That same year, The Platters worked with music producer, acclaimed song writer and artist manager Buck Ram to sign a major deal with Mercury Records. It was then that the trendsetting group re-recorded Only You (and You Alone), launching them onto the national stage, but it was reportedly done in error.
1955 – The Interception
As the story goes, a popular U.S. DJ of the time named Alan Freed accidentally played the single on air during a “prime” time that was traditionally reserved for only “white artists.” The romantic ballad, based on the then groundbreaking Tin Pan Alley sound, became an instant hit with the public and would eventually reach number five on the pop charts, pioneering the “new sound” of rock ’n’ roll as we know it today.
1956 – Touchdown
The follow-up single, The Great Pretender, propelled The Platters to the number one position on the pop charts, providing the launch pad for their meteoric rise as crossover artists. As a result, The Platters became the first African-American group to achieve international superstardom.
The Platters enjoyed great success, charting several number one hits during the 1950s and 1960s.
1990-2002 – Halls of Fames
Through our recordings and performances, we were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame® in 1990 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. Only You (and You Alone) and The Great Pretender were named songs of the century and entered in the Grammy® Hall of Fame in 1999 and 2002 respectively.
2010 – Legal Battles
Litigation involving The Platters trademark has been ongoing for more than half a century, due to the proliferation of fake “Platters” groups and individuals falsely claiming to be “Platters.” This paved the way for a plethora of legal battles over control of the name and rights to the iconic quintet. Competing versions of so-called “Platters” groups sprang up worldwide with unscrupulous identity thieves trying to cash in on The Platters historical success.
The public was consistently deceived and misled for years until 2010 when Reed and his manager, Frederick J. Balboni, Jr., hired Eric Sommers, an East Coast intellectual property litigator, to stop the myriad identity thieves from preying on the public.
The trio became a dynamic team, and together they worked tirelessly with local West Coast counsel John Krieger of Dickinson and Wright to correct half a century of wrongs.
The legal strategy, executed by Sommers, set out to untangle the dark legal web that had been spun over the vocal group. They developed a precedent-setting winning legal strategy, brilliantly navigating a long and winding road to victory. Reed and his company, Herb Reed Enterprises, LLC (“HRE”), initiated a series of lawsuits, which reinforced his sole stake in The Platters name, finding his rights superior to all others.
2012 – Herb’s Rights
One year before his death on June 4, 2012, Reed felt the thrill of a long overdue victory after a federal judge ruled he had superior rights above all others to the group’s legendary name. This ruling, in principle, was subsequently validated by three other federal judges as well as two, three-judge panels in the 2nd and 9th US Circuit Courts of Appeal.
2015 – Back on “Track”
In 2015, The Platters recorded Back to Basics with The Platters® LIVE!, a sold-out, limited edition 10-song LP that eerily captures the blueprint of the hit songs that made The Platters famous throughout the world.
2016 – Justice
In July of 2016, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) awarded Herb Reed Enterprises, LLC (HRE) with the trademark, thus granting Herb’s dying wish that the legacy of The Platters be secured and that The Platters’ music live on, evolving and continuing to influence America’s diverse soundtrack.
Because of these actions, there is now only ONE legally authorized vocal group performing around the world today. All rights to The Platters name have been consolidated into HRE, which is listed on the principal register with the USPTO, Registration Number 5,001,469.
If you see the famous registration mark ® after the name in all forms of visual media then you know you’re experiencing the authentic vocal group that is part of The Platters historic lineage!
2020 – The Zenith
For the first time in 50 years, the vocal group is on tap to release an EP/LP containing brand new music, adding to their extensive repertoire. The release is scheduled to debut in the Spring of 2021.