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In 1957, Jerome Anthony Gourdine, lead vocalist for The Duponts, joined a Doo-wop group called The Chesters. They changed their name to The Imperials, and the rest is rock ‘n’ roll history. Throughout the years, several members of the group have come and gone, but the lineup of Gourdine, Sammy Strain, Ernest Wright, and Clarence Collins is considered the classic and definitive Imperials. These are the singers that are the best known and had most of the groups’ 1960s hits, such as “Tears on My Pillow” (1958), “I’m on the Outside (Looking In)” (1964), and “Hurt So Bad” (1965).
They are also one of the very few late ‘50s groups that were able to re-invent themselves and maintain recording success well into the ‘60s and ‘70s. Their 52-year collaboration has produced 26 hit singles.
Gourdine is very excited about The Imperials’ latest album. “‘You’ll Never Know’ is very important for Little Anthony & The Imperials,” he says. “It’s the first CD we put out on our own label. We produced, recorded, and co-financed it ourselves. Clarence produced ‘You’ll Never Know’ and we’ve been working some of the songs into our shows over the last couple of months.
“‘You’ll Never Know’ is our dream come true. We are promoting the CD concert by concert. We don’t have the backing of a major record group or the financing necessary to buy print ads, radio time, co-ops, etc. So, we are going back to the old-fashioned way of packing your trunk with records and taking them on the road with you.”
On April 4, Little Anthony & The Imperials were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They have continued their tour schedule, which includes headlining at the Cannery in Las Vegas.
Three of the four members of the group live in Las Vegas, including Little Anthony. “I walk every day, and the sights I see are marvelous. I notice the beautiful cascades that surround Las Vegas. Growing up in New York City, I never thought I would ever find beauty in granite. But in Vegas as the sun sets, it really is awe-striking to see. I walk along wondering what is on the other side of that mountain in front of me. The granite is so close I can touch it.
“My golf buddy, Pete Woods, told me how beautiful Nevada is. Beyond those mountains, he said, are some of the most breathtaking views you could ever feast your eyes on. If you go horseback riding or camping, these views are right in your lap. They are second to none. I used to dream about what was on the other side of the mountain. Now, I’m gonna go there. My wife and I plan to go exploring to see the “other side of the mountain.”
Gourdine says the group has set some lofty goals for the future. Little Anthony and The Imperials are shooting for a Grammy nomination, another performance at the Lincoln Center, a concert in Washington, D.C. for the Senate or the White House, a special performance at The Orleans in Las Vegas, a long-running headline show in Las Vegas, an appearance on Oprah, another performance on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” maybe sing on Jay Leno’s new 10 p.m. show, and a meeting with President Barack Obama. “You only live once, ya know,” he says.
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