Fred Parris, lead singer of 1950s doo-wop group the Five Satins, dead at 85

Fred Parris, the lead singer of the 1950s doo-wop group the Five Satins, who wrote the hit “In the Still of the Night,” died Jan 13. He was 85.

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The group made the announcement on its official Facebook page.

Parris died after a brief illness, his music manager, Pat Marafiote, told The Associated Press. Parris and his wife lived in Hamden, Connecticut, not far from his native New Haven.

“Sadly the music world lost one of the greats yesterday as Fred Parris passed away after a brief illness,” the statement read. “Fred’s classic song ‘In the Still of the Night’ has been recognized as one of the greatest love songs of all time and the No. 1 requested song of the doo-wop era.”

The group’s signature tune was prominently used in movies including “Dirty Dancing” and “The Irishman,” Billboard reported.

“I never expected it to have so much of an impact,” Parris told the New Haven Register in 2014. “I didn’t know if they were going to listen to it 15 minutes later, let alone 50 years.”

Parris was part of a quintet of Hillhouse High School students, including Sylvester Hopkins (first tenor), Nathaniel Mosely, Jr. (second tenor), Albert Denby (baritone), and William L. Powers (bass).

Parris and Demby were home on military leave in New Haven, on Feb. 15, 1956, when they recorded the song in the basement of St. Bernadette Catholic Church, the newspaper reported. The finished track featured a saxophone solo by Vinny Mazzetta, an altar boy at the church, according to the AP.

Parris had returned to active duty when the song began climbing up the charts. The song landed at No. 3 on the R&B charts and No. 24 on the pop charts, according to Billboard.

“In the Still of the Night” became the first song by the same artist and the same version to chart three different times on the Billboard Hot 100 -- in 1956, 1960 and 1961, People reported.

“The song has been real good to me,” Parris told the Register. “Extremely good to me — because many other people have recorded it.”

Parris was born in New Haven and grew up listening to big-band star Glenn Miller on the radio before discovering R&B music, Billboard reported.

The Five Satins were elected into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2010, Rolling Stone ranked “In the Still of the Night” at No. 90 on its list of the 500 greatest songs.

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