RAYS: The Rays
The Rays - Walter Ford,
Harry James, Davey Jones (ex-member of the 4 Fellows), and featuring
the lead voice of Harold Miller came onto the music scene in 1955.
Their first recording for CHESS Records <,<,TIPPITY
TOP» received limited air play and soon they were without a label.
Two years later they were signed to the XYZ label, owned by the
writing team of Frank Slay and Bob Crewe. Crewe would soon become
famous with his association with Frank Valli and the Four Seasons.
The Rays’ first release showed promise with its smooth sound
different from the CHESS period but was not successful. Their second
release <,<,SILHOUETTES» became a
monster record reaching the number 3 spot nationally and remaining on
the charts for 17 weeks. The record was leased to CAMEO PARKWAY for
better distribution and was immediatly
covered by the DIAMONDS on MERCURY who themselves remained on the
charts for 8 weeks, taking their version to the number 8 spot
nationally. Also at this time ABC RECORDS released an unsuccessful
version by Steve Gibson and the Red Caps. The record was recorded by
several other artists throughout the years including THE FOUR SEASONS
and FRANKIE LYMON.
The British invasion saw Herman’s Hermits take
the song to the number 5 spot on the national charts in 1965. The
popularity of THE RAYS caused CHESS Records to dust off 2 unreleased
sides from its vaults and also release an EP which is today a very
rare and valuable item with a beautiful Picture cover.
The group was
never to have a major hit again, although over 1O more records were
released. Songs like <,<,TRIANGLE»,
<,<,SOUVENIERS OF SUMMER», and <,<,MAGIC MOON» all written
by Crewe and Slay had that same great sound but could not capture
enough DJ’s attention to become big hits.
Soon the CAMEO and XYZ
releases came to an end as did the original RAYS. In 1961 Hal Miller
continuing his association with Bob Crewe was put together with an up
coming group soon to change the sound of
music. This group the FOUR SEASONS backed up Hal on his TOPIX, PERRI
and in 1964 AMY releases. <,<,AN ANGELCRIED» was eventually
rewritten by BOB GUADIO and released by CHUCK JACKSON as <,<,KING
OF THE MOUNTAIN».
With these records also fading it was time for HAL to close a chapter of over 10 years of singing. Most of the songs THE RAYS recorded during this span have been made available for you on this album. As one of their releases states <,<,RAGS TO RICHES», unfortunately for HAL MILLER and THE RAYS they went from RAGS TO RICHES back to RAGS in an industry that more times then not is very unrewarding.
Shawn <,<,HOOT>,>, Zimmermann.
Harold <,<,Hal» Miller-—lead—born : January 17, 1931
Walter Ford—tenor—September 5, 1931
Davey Jones—sec0nd tenor—1931
Hometown : New York, New York
ln 1955, Hal and Davey sang with a group called the Four Fellows (<,<,Soldier Boy» on
Glory records) and then decided to leave the group. They got togheter with Walter and
Harry and formed a new group, calling themselves the Rays on the recommendation of
their vocal arranger, Jimmy Dugga
They went with Chess records and recorded <,<,Tippity Top», which was mildly popular. At
this same time they met songwriters Bob Crewe and Frank Slay, Jr., who signed them to
their label, XYZ records. In may 1957, while Bob was riding a train through Pensylvania, it stopped at a town where
Article properties: RAYS: The Rays
|Rays - The Rays LP 1|
|03||How Long Must I Wait For You|
|05||Why Do You Look The Other Way|
|07||It's A Cryin' Shame|
|10||Louie Hoo Hoo|
|16||Souvenirs Of Summertime|
|17||Rags To Riches|
|18||The Man Above|
|19||Bright Brown Eyes|
The Rays were a Brooklyn quartet boasting more musical experience than most of their peers. Second tenor David 'Sugar Lump' Jones had been with The Four Fellows of Soldier Boy fame (it's on our 1955 disc), and powerful lead singer Harold 'Hal' Miller was once with The Four Toppers, the Fellows' predecessors. Tenor Walter Ford and baritone Harry James rounded out The Rays. They began working with songwriters Frank Slay, Jr. and Bob Crewe when they signed with Chess and released the upbeat Tippity Top b/w Moo-Goo-Gai-Pan at the end of 1955. They encored with a ballad, Second Fiddle, flipped with the hard-charging How Long Must I Wait, out on both Chess and Argo in 1957.
Crewe, a handsome young singer with several singles of his own, supposedly noticed a couple romantically embracing through a window shade while aboard a passenger train, inspiring him to team with lyricist Slay to work up Silhouettes. The clever rock-a-ballad sports an entrancing narrative; the singer thinks he sees his girl kissing another guy through the shade, only to realize he's peeping through the window of a house on the wrong block (he races over to his chaste girlfriend's place, thoroughly relieved). Crewe and Slay gave their creation to The Rays, Miller belting the tale with dramatic zeal, and put it out on their little Philly-based XYZ label with the hip rocker Daddy Cool, another Crewe/Slay creation, on the rear. It was their XYZ encore; the devotional ballad My Steady Girl came before it.
Supposedly Philly deejay Hy Lit dozed off while auditioning new singles, Silhouettes endlessly repeating on his record player. By the time he woke up, Lit had absorbed every note. He spun Silhouettes on his show and got the ball rolling. Bernie Lowe and Kal Mann's Cameo imprint, a bigger local concern, picked the single up. It was a smash, zooming to #3 on both the pop and R&B listings in the autumn of 1957. The Diamonds took no chances, covering both sides of the 45 for Mercury, but their Silhouettes only made it to #10 pop. Also charting with a cover for ABC-Paramount: '40s mainstays Steve Gibson & The Redcaps. Herman's Hermits made Silhouettes a hit again in '65, peaking at #5 on the pop Hot 100.
The Rays made more platters for Cameo (their first encore paired the Silhouettes-styled Triangle flipped with Rendezvous) and XYZ. It took a while, but the quartet found their way back to the pop hit parade in 1960 with the catchy Mediterranean Moon and then Magic Moon (Clair De Lune) the next year, both on XYZ and penned as usual by Crewe and Slay. Not much was heard from the Rays after that, but Crewe masterminded incredible hitmaking runs by The 4 Seasons (who cut their own version of Silhouettes on Vee-Jay) and Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels.
- Bill Dahl -
Various Street - Corner Symphonies 1957 Vol.9
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