Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Thurston Harris--Little Bitty Pretty One (1957)

     For many, doo-wop was a form of music which was mainly linked to the areas around New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. One of it's early and important hubs however was in Los Angeles. Most of those groups never had the exposure of their east coast counterparts, but nevertheless was important in the development of the genre.
     Thurston Harris, who was born in Indianapolis, started out like most R&B singers in gospel, but the lure of the secular stylings took him to LA where he helped form what would become The Lamplighters in 1953. He would record with them for three more years with some great records, but nothing which would reach the charts. The Lamplighters would morph into The Tenderfoots, The Sharps, and finally The Rivingtons who would finally score with 1962's, "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow".
      In the meantime, Harris would sign with Aladdin in 1957 and have the only hit in his career. "Little Bitty Pretty One" was written by Bobby Day that same year. Just a few days after recording it for himself, Aladdin owner chose Harris to record it for his label. Day's version never reached the top 40, but Thurston's made it to number 6 on the pop charts and number 2 on the R&B charts.
     Harris never had another hit, and after recording his last side for Aladdin in 1961 drifted from one label to another until the mid-60's when his hot temper, partying ways, and eventually drug addiction put him in an almost 20 year exile from music while he was essentially homeless, living from one friends house to another. In the early 80's he cleaned up from the drugs (but not the alcohol which would eventually lead to his death in 1990) and became a blues singer.



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