In the rich tapestry of American rhythm and blues and soul music, few groups have left as lasting an impact as “Little Anthony and the Imperials.” Founded in the 1950s in the vibrant city of New York, this vocal ensemble, spearheaded by the remarkable Jerome Anthony “Little Anthony” Gourdine, garnered acclaim for their distinctive sound, particularly Anthony’s distinctive high-pitched vocals. Let’s delve into the remarkable journey of this talented group through the annals of music history.

The Birth of a Doo-Wop Group

The roots of “Little Anthony and the Imperials” can be traced back to a doo-wop group named “The Chesters,” featuring Clarence Collins, Tracey Lord, Nathaniel Rodgers, and Ronald Ross. The addition of Anthony Gourdine as the lead vocalist marked a significant turning point for the group. In 1958, they rebranded as “The Imperials” and signed with End Records, releasing their first single, “Tears on My Pillow,” which became an instant sensation, selling over a million copies and earning them a gold disc from the RIAA.

The Journey of Success

Despite initial triumphs, the group experienced a lull in 1961, prompting Gourdine to pursue a solo career. Member departures and lineup changes followed, but in 1963, Gourdine rejoined, solidifying the classic lineup: Gourdine, Ernest Wright, Clarence Collins, and Sammy Strain. This lineup collaborated with record producer/songwriter Teddy Randazzo, leading to a string of pop-soul hits, including “Goin’ Out of My Head,” “Hurt So Bad,” and “I’m on the Outside (Looking In).”

Television Appearances and Continued Success

During their peak, “Little Anthony and the Imperials” made noteworthy television appearances, including on The Ed Sullivan Show, Murray The K ā€“ It’s What’s Happening, Baby, and more. They continued to thrive, producing notable albums like “Reflections,” “Payin’ Our Dues,” and “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind,” contributing to their legacy in the music industry.

Evolution and Continued Performances

Over the years, the lineup witnessed changes and evolutions, with members coming and going, but the essence of their soulful music endured. Their performances on shows like Soul Train and their contributions to various record labels showcased their resilience and passion for music.


“Little Anthony and the Imperials” etched their names into the annals of music history, leaving a lasting legacy of soulful rhythm and blues. Their journey through changing lineups, record labels, and evolving sounds demonstrates their adaptability and dedication to their craft. As we look back at their remarkable career, we celebrate the enduring impact they’ve had on the music scene, their fans, and the generations to come.