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Remembering Herb Reed of the Platters

Tuesday, June 5: 4 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Herb Reed (pictured far left), a founding member of the Platters, passed away on June 4, 2012.

Herb Reed, the last surviving original member of the Platters, died on June 4, 2012, after losing his battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The Platters were arguably the most significant vocal group of rock and roll's early decades, performing sold-out shows in more than 100 countries, cutting nearly 400 recordings and selling millions of albums. Founding member Herb Reed's inimitable bass vocals were an instrumental part in shaping the instantly recognizable harmonies of the quintet's litany of memorable tracks. Songs such as "The Great Pretender," "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," "Only You" and "Twilight Time" – to name but a few – forever enriched the American songbook.

Reed, founding member of the Platters, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1929. The Platters were one of the top vocal groups of the Fifties, delivering smooth, stylized renditions of pop standards. Like the Ink Spots a decade earlier, they were the most popular black group of their time, achieving success in a crooning, middle-of-the-road style that put a soulful coat of uptown polish on pop-oriented, harmony-rich material. Reed sang bass on the Platters’ lengthy string of hits, which began in 1955 with “Only You” and continued until the ...

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