Fred Parris, creator of classic Doo-Wop, dies at 85


Apparently he was a better singer than ballplayer, and he was in several bands before forming the Five Satins. One, which he formed with other Hillhouse students, was called the Scarlets, and in 1954 the band recorded “My dear,” a song that Mr. Parris had written for the Red Robin label; it was released in the New York market.

The Scarlets broke several other records, but in 1955 military service split the band. Mr. Parris found himself in Philadelphia and, on trips back to Connecticut, formed a new band. He had admired a doo-wop act called the Velvets and “loved the idea of ​​something soft and red,” as the Billboard book put it; he chose the name of the Five Satins.

But despite that name, Mr. Newman said, there were only four Satins in the 1956 recording session: Mr. Parris, who sang the lead on “In the Still of the Night”, Al Denby (low tenor), Eddie Martin (baritone) and Jim Freeman (bass). The usually five-member group continued, even scoring a minor hit in 1957, “To the Aisle”, with Bill Baker on vocals because the still serving Mr. Parris was stationed in Japan. Two other records made the Billboard charts during those early years, with Mr. Parris as lead singer: “Shadows” (1959) and “I’ll Be Seeing You” (1960).

Mr. Parris, when telling the story of “In the Still of the Night”, usually did not identify the young woman who had inspired the song, although in the Smithsonian article he did say that she was called Marla. In any case, there was no marriage; shortly after writing the song, he told the Hartford Courant in 1982, “she went to California to visit her mother”.

“She never came back,” he said.

Mr. Parris has been married several times, most recently to Emma Parris, who survives him. Other survivors include three children, Shawn Parris, Rene Parris Alexandre and Freddy Parris, and eight grandchildren.

“In the Still of the Night” lasted, and for a time Mr. Parris and various versions of the Satins toured through it, but in the mid-1960s the British invasion set aside the era of doo-wop. He told the Courant that over the years he had worked at the Olin and High Standard gun manufacturing plants in Connecticut and delivered food to Southern Connecticut State University.


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