Singer Fred Parris of the Five Satins dies at 85 | Connecticut News


NEW YORK (AP) — Fred Parris, the lead singer of 1950s harmony group the Five Satins and composer of the classic doo-wop ballad “In the Still of the Night,” has died at 85.

Parris died Jan. 13 after a brief illness, according to his musical director, Pat Marafiote. Parris and his wife Emma lived in Hamden, Connecticut, not far from his native New Haven.

Parris was in his late teens and on military guard duty in Philadelphia when his girlfriend’s thoughts inspired an early rock standard. Parris and his fellow Satins recorded the song in the basement of St. Bernadette Church in New Haven, the finished track featuring a dreamlike saxophone solo by Vinny Mazzetta (an altar boy at the church) and Parris’ soulful baritone playing over backing vocals to “shoo-doo-shooby-doo.”

Released in 1956, “In the Still of the Night” only reached No. 24 on the Billboard pop charts, but became a multi-million seller through re-releases and appearances on compilation and soundtrack albums and now helps define an era of harmony bands with favorites such as the Penguins’ “Earth Angel” and the Cadillacs’ “Speedoo.” The Satins’ song (the last word was sometimes spelled “Nite” to avoid confusion with Cole Porter’s “In the Still of the Night”) was a favorite on old-school radio stations and featured in Period films such as “Dirty Dancing” and “The Irishman.” The Beach Boys, Boyz II Men and Debbie Gibson are among the artists who have covered it.

Formed as the Scarlets while Parris was in high school, the Five Satins had minor hits with “To the Aisles” and “Shadows” among others and Parris continued to tour over the following decades even as the popularity of the Satins faded and choristers came and went.

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The Five Satins were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003. Seven years later, Rolling Stone magazine ranked “In the Still of the Night” at No. 90 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs.

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