The Impalas came out of Brooklyn, New York breaking onto the pop charts in a big way with their first effort on Cub Records, “Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home)”.
The Impalas were initially were a trio including Richard Wagner, Tony Carlucci and Lenny Renda. When they were practicing they met Joe “Speedo” Frazier, who suggested he could improve their harmonies. After seeing what he could do and hearing his voice, he was invited to become a permanent member of the group. They were provided with their big break when famed DJ Alan Freed led them to MGM where they were assigned to the subsidiary label , Cub. The price for this favor reportedly was permitting Freed to share in composing royalties – even though his name does not appear on the 45 rpm.
“Sorry” was a solid million seller. Many years ago I picked up a copy of he Impala’s extended play of the same name. Turns out this is a very rare release often reigning in more than a thousand dollars at auction. I was contacted by a collector back in the 1970’s who wanted the EP very badly and we agreed to trade straight across – my EP for his Skyliners’ original long play on the Calico Record label.
We rendezvoused at an airport down in New Orleans where I was tending to a trade show. This was before the day of TSA security checks and the guy was waiting right at the airline door as it was pulled open! He didn’t want to miss his big chance. He got the better of the trade – with Skyliners long plays perhaps going for a couple of hundred dollars today. But I love the group and treasure my Skyliners album.
Most of the Cub tracks were penned by writers Ardie Zwirn and Aristedes Giosasi, both of New York, who had earlier penned two tracks for the music duo of “Gino and Gina” who were in reality Aristedes and his sister Gina. Aristides whose full name was Aristides Michael “Harry” Giosasi” became a restaurant owner up until his retirement. He passed away in 2010 at age 72.
The Impalas placed one additional single on the pop charts, “Oh, What A Fool” which only reached number 86 with a very short five-week run. There were two more Cub singles released and then the Impalas pretty much vanished from the music scene, becoming an oldies act. They released a single on 20th Century-Fox in February of 1963 – then shortly after, breaking up.
Joe Frazier would resurface with a group called “Love’s Own” in the early 1970’s and later on in 1980 put the Impalas back together for a brief time to take on a U.S. tour. Frazier was the group’s lead singer, an African American. Their first recording was released on the obscure Hamilton label with a song called “First Date” and backed with “I Was a Fool” (not the same as the later “Oh, What a Fool”).
Missed Cue – “Uh-Oh”
On a side note, the song “Sorry” (I Ran All the Way Home)” contains an abrupt “uh-oh” which was not intended. What occurred was that Frazier missed his initial cue (which was provided by session leader Leroy Holmes) and blurted it out. On the next take, the recording team liked what they heard and decided to include it, where it would remain for the final recording. Additionally the foo-pa was worked into the chorus on the end of the record as well.
The group did manage to record one final time releasing a single on the U.G.H.A. label in 1982 – “My Hero” backed with “There Is Nothing Like A Dame” (shown below) – this one recorded when the group briefly reformed.
Joe Frazier passed away on April 1st, 2014 at the age of 70.
The Impalas Selected Discography
45 – Hamilton 45-50026 – I Was A Fool/First Date – 1959
45 – Cub K 9022 – Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home/Fool, Fool, Fool – January, 1959
45 EP – Cub – CX 5000 – Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home) – 1959
45 – Cub K 9033 – Oh, What A Fool/Sandy Went Away – June, 1959
45 – Cub K 9066 – ‘Bye Everybody/Pegging Darling – October, 1959
45 – Cub – K 9066 – All Alone/When My Heart Does All The Talking – March, 1960
45 – 20th Century- Fox 428 – There Is Nothing Like A Dame/Last Night I Saw A Girl – 1962
45 – Red Boy RB 113 – I Can’t See Me Without You/When You Dance – 1966
45 – U.G.H.A. 45-17 – My Hero/There Is Nothing Like A Dame – 1982
LP – Cub 8003 – Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home) – 1959