This vocal ensemble was formed in 1952
in Gary, Indiana, USA. The Spaniels were universally recognized as one
of the great R&B vocal harmony groups of the '50s, whose magnificent
body of work was not truly reflected in their moderate chart success.
The group originally consisted of Roosevelt
High students James Pookie Hudson (lead), Ernest Warren (first tenor),
Opal Courtney (baritone), Willis C. Jackson (baritone), and Gerald Gregory
(bass). In 1953 the quintet enjoyed an R&B Top 10 hit with Baby, It's
You, but the following year achieved their biggest success when Goodnite
Sweetheart, Goodnite reached the US pop Top 30 despite competition from
an opportunistic pop-style version by the McGuire Sisters.
The Spaniels' delicate doo-wop harmonies
turned this ballad into one of the era's best-loved performances with an
emotional pull outweighing its intrinsic simplicity. The Spaniels in 1955
followed with two fine regional hits, Let's Make Up and You Painted Pictures.
The Spaniels reorganized in 1956, and Hudson
and Gregory were now augmented by James Cochran (baritone), Carl
Rainge (tenor), and Don Porter (second tenor). Top recordings of this group
included the You Gave Me Peace Of Mind (1956) and Everyone's Laughing (number
13 R&B 1957), and I Lost You (1958).
Another reorganization in 1960 in which
Hudson and Gregory brought in Andy McGruder, Billy Cary, and Ernest
Warren, yielded the group's last hit featuring the classic Spaniels sound,
I Know (US R&B number 23 in 1960). Hudson went solo in 1961, but formed
a soul-styled Spaniels group in 1969 that brought Fairy Tales to the charts