Looking again at my High School Days, I recall in 1957 there was a group, that I guess we would call, just One-Hit, but this song would stay with the people of my generation, and generations to come. The Group was from New York City and had a two sided hit…
- Harold Miller – (lead singer) – (born Brooklyn, New York)
- Walter Ford – (tenor) – (born Lexington, Kentucky)
- David Jones – (tenor) – (born Brooklyn, New York)
- Harry James – (baritone) – (born Brooklyn, New York)
Video: Silhouettes 1958
1A. Silhouettes/ Cameo 117/ October 1957/ #3 Top 100 #3 Best Seller #4
1B. Daddy Cool/ flip side and Best Seller
The Rays was an American group formed in New York in 1955, and active in the 1950s. They first recorded for Chess Records. Their biggest hit single was “Silhouettes,” a moderately-slow doo-wop piece of pop music that reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957, released on XYZ Records (and picked up by Cameo Records for national distribution). It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The song was written by Bob Crewe and Frank Slay, Jr. Also on XYZ, they had a minor hit with “Magic Moon“.
This song was later released in a slightly faster cover version by Herman’s Hermits in the mid 1960s. “Silhouettes” was also covered by Bob Dylan, but still unreleased, from his Basement Tapes sessions in the late 1960s.
A competing version of “Silhouettes” by The Diamonds was also successful, and the song was a hit again in 1965 for Herman’s Hermits
In May 1957, songwriter Bob Crewe saw a couple embracing through a windowshade as he passed on a train. He quickly set about turning the image into a song. Frank Slay, who owned the small Philadelphia record label XYZ with Crewe, added lyrics, and they soon had a complete song ready to record. The story has frequently been reported that Slay heard The Rays audition for Cameo-Parkway Records, for which he worked, and immediately decided that they were the perfect group for “Silhouettes“. However, Slay and Crewe were actually already familiar with the group, as “Silhouettes” was their third single with them.
The song received a break when popular local disc jockey, Hy Lit, fell asleep with a stack of newly released records on his record automatic record changer. “Silhouettes” happened to be the last to play, and so it repeated until he woke up. He began to play the song on his show. It became popular enough that Cameo-Parkway picked it up for national distribution, and it eventually reached number 3 on Billboard Top 100, while also hitting the top five on both the sales and airplay charts. It was the group’s only top 40 hit.
The Canadian pop group The Diamonds, who had experienced success with cover versions of other doo-wop records, quickly put out their own version of the song. They even used the same song, “Daddy Cool”, on the b-side of their record as The Rays had. Their version received widespread radio play, also reaching the top ten of the Billboard airplay chart. However, it did not reach Billboard’s sales chart, and only hit number 60 on the Top 100.
The British Invasion group Herman’s Hermits recorded the song in 1965 after hearing the song on American Armed Forces Radio. It became their third hit in the US, reaching number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also reached the top 5 in the UK. Information from Peter Noone and others indicates that guitarist Vic Flick played on the track, and not Jimmy Page as previously thought.