Herb Reed, the last surviving original member of The Platters, passed away on Monday after a long battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 83.
Reed founded The Platters nearly sixty years ago in Los Angeles and would become early rock n’ roll pioneers with their mastery of the doo-wop sound. The Platters hit the height of their fame late from 1955-1958 with hits such as “Only You”, “The Great Pretender” as well as their adaptation of the Jerome Kern-Otto Harbach composition “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”. Reed sang bass and generally wasn’t featured as the lead vocal although here is Reed’s take on the Tennessee Ernie Ford classic “Sixteen Tons”.
From 1970 until earlier this year when his health would not permit him to perform, Reed was out on the road 200 days a year with The Platters. However, Reed spent many years in court trying to win the right to use The Platters’ name. Typically, the group would be billed as Herb Reed’s Platters or Herb Reed and The Platters. It wasn’t until last year that a court finally ruled in Reed’s favor. Unfortunately, the triumph proved to be shortlived.
I leave you with Reed’s final TV interview last year.