A Fast Start For The Impalas

Among the many doo-wop groups that were based in Brooklyn during the 1950s and 1960s, only a few were racially mixed. One of those was a quartet called the Impalas, which had a huge hit with 1959’s “Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home).” Unfortunately, the group would never manage to replicate the success of that one big record.

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The Impalas came together in the late 1950s when lead singer Joe ‘Speedo’ Frazier (who was just 15 at the time), joined up with Richard Wagner, Lenny Renda, and Tony Carlucci. The four guys managed to sign on with a small record company, but not too much happened until they latched onto a better deal with Cub Records, a respected MGM subsidiary.

It was put together in a creative way, as was often the case in those days. In this particular instance, superstar DJ Alan Freed helped broker the deal and was in turn added to the writing credits for the group’s first recording, “Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home).” In any case, it didn’t take long for the record to rise in popularity, eventually making it nearly to the top of the pop charts and just missing the Top Ten on R&B charts.

The Impalas continued to make records with similar songs, like “Oh What A Fool” and “(You Want) Too Much Too Soon,” and also tried something a little different with “Speed Up.” But even though the guys managed to generate enough for an album, things went downhill pretty fast and the group eventually dissolved. Although Frazier went on to sing with other outfits and occasionally restarted the Impalas in one form or the other, there’s not much info available about his buddies from the original group.

imcdThe Impalas – “Speed Up”

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7 thoughts on “A Fast Start For The Impalas

  1. One of the last great doo wop songs. It did not get the airplay that it deserved but I suspect that was done to keep the audience waiting to hear it amongst all the other mumbo jumbo. What a fascinating voice the lead singer had. As usual, your words hit the mark.

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  2. Thanks for the comment.
    PS: Something I found out later: Apparently the “uh-oh” near the beginning of the record was an accident (or so the story goes). In the first take Frazier missed his cue and it popped out. . .but they decided to leave it in from then on, and he even repeats it later in the song.

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  3. BG, thanks very much for the link to my blog. It’s much appreciated. (I was pleased to add a link to yours because it’s one of the most interesting blogs I’ve come across – you clearly love the music.)

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