Google+ Followers

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Zola Taylor born 17 March 1938

Zola Mae Taylor (March 17, 1938 – April 30, 2007) was an American singer. She was the original female member of The Platters from 1954 to 1962, when the group produced most of their popular singles.

The lone female member of the immortal Platters, Zola Taylor contributed lead and backing vocals to some of the most influential and enduring recordings in R&B history, lending glamour and romance to her colleagues' rich harmonies. Born in Los Angeles on March 17, 1943, Taylor began her recording career as a solo act, cutting "Make Love to Me" for the RPM label in 1954. That same year, she joined the girl group Shirley Gunter & the Queens, recording with them a series of singles for the Flair label.

In the interim, producer Buck Ram assembled the first incarnation of the Platters, seeking to create a vocal group with more elegance and sophistication than the average R&B act. After tinkering with the line-up in search of the perfect harmonic combination, he eventually settled on lead Tony Williams, second tenor David Lynch, baritone Paul Robi, and bass Herb Reed, finally adding contralto Taylor in 1955 to complete their lush, ethereal sound. 

She also wrote and assumed lead vocal duties on the up-tempo "Bark, Battle and Ball," the B-side to the Platters' epochal Mercury Records debut "Only You," the first in a series of classics including "The Great Pretender," "My Prayer," "Twilight Time," and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."

While Williams' buttery leads were the Platters' marquee attraction, Taylor was an integral element of their success. Dubbed "the Dish," her physical allure was no doubt a major reason the group was a Hollywood fixture, appearing in a series of films including Rock Around the Clock and Frank Tashlin's classic The Girl Can't Help It.

She also was the featured lead on B-sides including "He's Mine," "Indiff'rent," and "My Old Flame," and sang a duet with Lynch on a 1957 cover of the doo wop perennial "Goodnight, Sweetheart." However, in 1959 the four male members of the Platters were arrested in a narcotics sting, and although the case was tossed out, many radio stations boycotted their records. Soon afterward Williams went solo, and with replacement Sonny Turner the group's commercial fortunes continued to dim.

Taylor left the Platters in 1964, later reuniting with Lynch and Robi as the Original Platters. According to Taylor, she married former teen heartthrob Frankie Lymon in 1965, three years prior to his fatal heroin overdose. Years later, she unsuccessfully battled two other women also purporting to be Lymon's widows for ownership of his song writing catalogue. (The case was later adapted into the 1998 feature film Why Do Fools Fall in Love?, with Halle Berry in the role of Taylor.)

For a number of years, she also toured under the banner of Zola Taylor's Platters, one of myriad unofficial Platters acts travelling the globe, until illness ultimately forced her into retirement in 1996. 

Taylor who had been bedridden following several strokes, died at Parkview Community Hospital in Riverside County, Los Angeles, on April 30, 2007 at age 69, from complications of  pneumonia, following a series of strokes.

(Info edited mainly from All Music Guide)

February 1957 • The Platters - "He's Mine" (US Charts #16; US R&B Chart #5)


Bake liedjes said...

Hi Bob,

Aren't your uploads by Divshare also not working yet?

Regards Theo

boppinbob said...

No Theo. I am using Prostopleer until DivShare sorted itself out!

boppinbob said...

For The Platters – Complete Federal Recordings go here:
01 I'll Cry When You're Gone
02 My Name Ain't Annie
03 Only You (And You Alone)
04 Roses of Picardy
05 Give Thanks
06 Beer Barrel Boogie
07 Tell the World
08 Oochi Pachi
09 Love All Night
10 Please Have Mercy
11 I Need You All the Time
12 You Made Me Cry
13 Take Me Back
14 Hey Now
15 Shake It Up Mambo
16 Humble Bumble Bee
17 Don't Tickle
18 Voo-Vee-Ah-Bee
19 Maggie Doesn't Work Here Anymore
20 I Just Wanna Mambo
21 Let's Babalu
22 Co-Operating Mama
23 Only You (And You Alone) [Take 1]
24 You Made Me Cry [Take 2]

For “The Flying Platters” go here:
01 On A Slowboat To China
02 Roses Of Picardy
03 Darktown Strutter's Ball
04 Hula Hoop
05 By The River Sainte Marie
06 Don't Let Go
07 Only You (And You Alone)
08 He's Mine
10 Voo-vee-ah-bee
11 Out Of My Mind
12 Bark, Battle And Ball
13 I Wanna
14 Roses Of Picardy, Take 2

A big thank you to Maria & Jake of Jukebox City for links.