Packards

Best remembered by doo wop aficionados for their cult classic "Ding Dong," New York City vocal quintet the Packards formed in late 1955. According to writer Marv Goldberg's profile on his R&B Notebooks website, second tenor Milton Turner and bass/pianist Ray Hayes met while attending Manhattan's Benjamin Franklin High School, while baritones Bill Fredericks and Bill Atkins studied at a nearby vocational school. In time first tenor Clive Williams completed the lineup, which borrowed its name from the luxury automobile and took its cues from acts like the Flamingos and the Clovers. In the spring of 1956, manager Joel Weeks landed the Packards a record deal with Bronx-based label Pla-Bac. Turner assumed lead duties on "Ding Dong" and its flip side, "Dream of Love," both originals composed by Hayes. Although Pla-Bac quickly released a second single, the disappointing "My Doctor of Love," "Ding Dong" slowly but surely turned into a local hit, catching the attention of Old Town label chief Hy Weiss. Old Town licensed the single for re-release in late summer but spent next to nothing on promoting the record, and it tanked. Williams exited the Packards in the spring of 1957, with Hayes' wife, Barbara, signing on for the remainder of the group's existence. Both Ray and Barbara later reunited with Turner in the Visions, with Turner also serving as a member of Bobby Lester's Moonglows. Fredericks, meanwhile, resurfaced in the Drifters in 1966, remaining with the venerable R&B group for close to a decade. He also cut a handful of little-noticed solo singles. ~ Jason Ankeny

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