Listening to “Little Anthony” Gourdine sing, it’s difficult to imagine that 2015 marks 57 years since he entered the public eye with his group, the Imperials. One of the very few late-fifties-era vocal groups to successfully re-invent themselves and sustain a successful recording career into the decade that followed, Little Anthony and the Imperials are now making the rounds on their Farewell Tour which stops in Boca Raton, Florida this Saturday.
Formed in Brooklyn, New York, the Imperials’ road to stardom began with 1958’s “Tears on My Pillow”, featuring Anthony on lead, lamenting, “You don’t remember me, but I remember you.” They quickly followed with hits “Two People in the World” and “Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop,” but splintered shortly after. In an unprecedented meteoric comeback, the quartet traded their skin and returned to the charts in 1964 and 1965 with “I’m On The Outside (Looking In)”, “Goin’ Out Of My Head”, “Hurt So Bad”, “I Miss You So” and “Take Me Back.”
Following a high-profile reunion of the original members in 1992, Little Anthony & the Imperials found themselves on television shows such as Today and Late Night with David Letterman and TV specials including Dick Clark’s 40th Anniversary of American Bandstand and the ubiquitous PBS vintage rock and roll pledge drive concerts. They were called on stage by Paul Simon to perform on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s televised anniversary concerts and they were inducted into the Rock Hall by admirer Smokey Robinson. Recognition from the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation have all provided validation of the group’s success importance in the history of American music.
Never content to trade solely on past successes, Anthony recently performed at a charity event in Los Angeles alongside Justin Bieber and Stevie Wonder. His blog features a picture of Taylor Swift with her arm draped over his shoulder and his new book has launched him on a solo tour sharing stories of the luminaries with whom he’s crossed paths, from Sinatra to Mohamed Ali and everyone in between.
Saturday’s show in Boca Raton will feature Little Anthony & the Imperials with their band, complete with a live brass section, performing all their hits and some more recent audience favorites as well. Sonny Turner, the former lead singer of the Platters, will open the show. Turner is back by popular demand for the third straight year at the venue, where he routinely receives 4 to 5 standing ovations per performance.
Little Anthony & The Imperials, with special guest Sonny Turner, perform as part of “Pop, Rock & Doo Wopp Live!”, presented by Premier Concert Group and Praia Entertainment Group, Saturday, January 31 at the Carole & Barry Kaye Auditorium on the campus of Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Rd, Boca Raton. Tickets, available at www.poprockdoowopp.com or by phone at 1-800-745-3000 are $39-$72 with VIP tickets including premium seating and an opportunity to meet the artists after the show. The concert is sponsored in part by The Boca Raton Tribune.