Little Anthony & The Imperials expand upon their legacy at the Rock & Rod Festival.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Little Anthony & The Imperials scored early in their career with the 1958 pop and R&B hit single, “Tears on My Mind.” The number features Anthony cooing lines like “love is not a gadget/ love is not a toy” over lush backing vocals.
Though the group had several minor chart successes, it wasn’t until Little Anthony & The Imperials released the supremely silly novelty song “Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop” before they had a bona fide hit.
“I never liked that song.” Anthony says defensively. “I still don’t. Don’t judge me by that.”
While Little Anthony & The Imperials struggled to get on the charts in the early ’60s, the group had a succession of hits later on beginning with 1964’s “I’m on the Outside (Looking In)” and continuing on until 1969’s “Out of Sight, Out of Mind.” By 1975, Anthony departed the band to pursue acting and a solo music career.
Anthony says he was persuaded to reunite with his old bandmates for a 1992 performance at Madison Square Garden alongside Ben E. King, Ronnie Spector and The Impressions.
Little Anthony & The Imperials are now enjoying a fruitful second act together. In the past decade, the group has continued touring and been inducted in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. “I’ve found that the longer you stay in this business the more you start getting things like awards,” Anthony says.
The vocal outfit is not content to just be another oldies act living off the past. The group is releasing a new CD titled You’ll Never Know this fall. Anthony says it will include their hits “Goin’ Out of My Head,” “Hurt So Bad” and “Two People in the World” redone as smooth jazz numbers. All of the other tracks on the release will be original compositions.
“You don’t survive 50 years unless you’re good,” he says, “and I’m very good.”
LITTLE ANTHONY & THE IMPERIALS play the Rock & Rod Festival 9pm Saturday, May 31, at the Monterey Fairgrounds, 2400 Fairgrounds Rd., Monterey. $49.50. 649-0102.