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The Suburbans

Little-heard Manhattan doo wop group the Suburbans was the launching pad for songwriter Sylvester Bradford, who went on to author R&B classics including "Tears on My Pillow" and "Right Now." According to Marv Goldberg's profile on his R&B Notebooks website, tenor/baritone Bradford originally formed the Suburbans in 1952. Visual impairment required him to seek aid from the nonprofit Lighthouse for the Blind, where he befriended and began harmonizing with tenors Wayne Durham and Gregory Shankowitz and bass Chris Kiler, all of whom suffered from their own losing battles with blindness. After roughly three years rehearsing on the Lighthouse's guitar and piano, the quartet auditioned for Apollo Records before signing to rival Rainbow. Issued in mid-1955 and credited to the Bradford Boys, their first single "That Feeling" featured Durham on lead and heralded Bradford's debut as a songwriter.

The record went nowhere, however, and that fall the group splintered when Durham went off to attend Columbia University. Bradford briefly played piano with the Ivories, writing their Jaguar single "Alone," before reuniting with Kiler to form the Suburbans, adding lead tenor Cortez Franklin and tenor Andy Williams. So named after a "suburban-style" overcoat Bradford favored, the group unsuccessfully auditioned for Decca before signing with the Baton label in the spring of 1956. The Bradford original "I Remember" followed a few months later, climbing the regional charts in Philadelphia and Miami but failing to break nationally. The Manhattans next backed singer Ann Cole on her Baton single "In the Chapel," which in early 1957 cracked the national R&B Top 20.

Another support stint, this time on Ravens alum Jimmy Ricks' "Bad Man of Missouri," quickly followed before the quartet finally headlined its second single, "Leave My Gal Alone." When the record failed to catch on at radio or retail, the Manhattans dissolved, and in late 1957 Bradford recorded a solo single, "I Like Girls," for Atco. With his eyesight worsening, he decided to retire from performing to concentrate on writing, teaming with Tin Pan Alley veteran Al Lewis to pen 1958's "Tears on My Pillow," a Top Five crossover pop hit for Little Anthony & the Imperials. Bradford and Lewis also collaborated on Fats Domino's 1959 hit "I'm Ready" and Gene Vincent's "Right Now," and Bobby Darin even recorded a complete album of Bradford songs for 20th Century Fox, but Atlantic threatened a lawsuit and the project remains unreleased. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Encyclopedia Of Doo Wop: Volume 5

Disc 1

2. They Say

3. Is There A Love For Me

5. Cruise To The Moon

7. Alphabet Of Love

8. Cry Like I Cried

9. Stormy Weather

10. Runaround

11. I'll Pray For You

12. Wedding Bells

17. Angel Face

18. Crazy For You

19. Ding Dong

20. There Goes My Girl

21. Heaven Above Me

23. Darling Can't You Tell

24. Rip Van Winkle

25. Let It Please Be You

Disc 2

1. Zoom

2. Little Girl Of Mine

3. Im Not A Know It All

4. Your Way

5. Rendezvous With You

6. I Cried My Heart Out

7. Sympathy

8. Too Young

9. Two People In The World

10. I Talk To My Echo

11. Goodbye To Love

12. I Found

13. Dont Ask Me To Be Lonely

17. Natures Creation

19. Baby Baby

21. Rubber Biscuit

24. Thats The Way It Goes

25. He's Gone

Disc 3

1. Gee

3. Baby

4. Traveling Stranger

5. Sugar Sugar

6. Goodbye To Love

7. Our Love Will Never End

10. On Sunday Afternoon

12. Woo Woo Train

13. You Are So Beautiful

15. That's My Desire

16. I Found Out Why

17. Be Sure My Love

18. Paper Castles

19. You Can Come If You Want To

21. You Baby You

24. Don't Say Goodnight

25. Forever

Disc 4

1. A Thousand Miles Away

2. Little Boy Blue

3. String Around My Heart

5. Beside My Love

6. I'm Not A Juvenile Delinquent

7. I Love You Darling

8. In My Lonely Room

10. Summertime

12. You Are

14. Share

15. I Love You So

18. Whisper (Softly)

19. Diamonds & Pearls

20. Snow White

24. Teenage Love

25. Your Last Chance

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