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The Harptones

Despite not landing on the R&B or pop charts during their entire careers, the Harptones were a superb doo wop ensemble. They initially emerged from a 1953 union of members of the Harps and Skylarks. Willie Winfield and his brothers Jimmy and Clyde first teamed with Bill Galloway and Johnny Bronson as the Harps. When Galloway sought a pianist for the Harps, he found Raoul Cita in the Skylarks. Eventually a new group with Winfield and Galloway plus former Skylarks Cita, Curtis Cherebin, and Bill Dempsey became the new Harps. Unlike most doo wop and R&B units, the Harptones (who took that name in 1953 after Bruce Records executives Morty Craft and Monte Bruce informed them there was already a group on Savoy called Little David Baughn and the Harps) were more jazz-oriented in their harmonies and arrangements, thanks to Cita. But they weren't so sophisticated that they lacked earthiness or grit, thanks to Winfield. "I Want a Sunday Kind of Love" featured Winfield's silky vocals and the group's magnificent harmonies. It was a big regional success, but never got national attention. That was the story for virtually every Harptones single. Though they were popular enough to be included in the historic 1955 Rock and Roll Ball at St. Nicholas Arena in New York alongside the Drifters, Clovers, Fats Domino, Moonglows, and Big Joe Turner, they never scored a national hit. They recorded for Essex, Old Town, Rama, Tip Top, Gee, Warwick, Coed, Cub, Comp, and Raven, among others, besides Bruce. The Harptones cut an LP, Love Needs the Harptones, for Ambient Sound in 1981. They continued playing clubs and oldies shows into the '90s. Ron Wynn

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