The Cleftones

Formed at Jamaica High School in Queens, New York in 1955 for a school function, they first called themselves the Silvertones, then changed their name to

The Cleftones


  • Herbie Cox – Lead
  • Berman Patterson – Second tenor
  • Warren Corbin – Bass
  • Charles James – First tenor
  • William McClain – Baritone

Video:  From the Doo Wop PBS Special/ The Penguins Earth Angel and The Cleftones Little Girl of Mine

1.  You Baby You/ Gee/ January 1956
2.  Little Girl of Mine/ Gee/ April 1956
3.  Can’t We be Sweethearts/ June 1956
4.  Heart and Soul/ Gee 1064/ June 1961/ # 18

Originally signed to Gee, the group released its first single, “You Baby You,” late in 1955; an up-tempo doo wop song, the record became a regional hit. “Little Girl of Mine,” the Cleftones’ second single, broke nationally, charting at number eight R&B and number 57 pop in 1956; two other similar singles, “Can’t We Be Sweethearts” and “String Around My Heart,” were released the same year, yet they failed to attract national attention.See You Next Year,” a ballad the group recorded in 1957, did not earn the group an audience outside of New York.

Two years later, McClain left the group and was replaced by Gene Pearson from The Rivileers. Patricia Spann was also added to the Cleftones’ lineup that year, which helped nudge the band away from traditional group-oriented doo wop harmonies and towards a vocal sound that was dominated by the lead vocals.

In 1961, the Cleftones realized the potential of the sound with their smash hit version of the standard “Heart and Soul;” it became the group’s biggest hit, reaching #18 on both pop and R&B charts.

Later that year, the group had another hit with “For Sentimental Reasons,” but the band had reached a peak with “Heart and Soul” and were never able to reach those heights again.

The Cleftones broke up in 1964, three years after their greatest success.



3 responses to “The Cleftones

  1. Hey Guys; Good stuff; Just wondering if you heard the 1978 Freddie Paris recording of ‘Down at El Monte’. Kind of brings back doowop at a time when it had left. Let me know if you need it. Cheers……..Ron.

  2. Whoa!! The only Freddie Paris we’ve heard of is Fred Paris, lead singer of The Five Satins. It sounds like you have a gynormous record collection there, Ron.

  3. Pingback: One Hit Wonders / 1961 | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

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