the-flamingosThe Flamingos are a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted doo-wop group from the United States, most popular in the mid to late 1950s and best known for their 1959 cover version of “I Only Have Eyes for You”. Billboard magazine wrote The Flamingos are universally hailed as one of the finest and most influential vocal groups in pop music history, their music being defined as elegant and sophisticated.

Jacob Carey (Jake) and Ezekial Carey (Zeke), bass and second tenor, respectively, formed the group in Chicago, Illinois, after meeting cousins’ baritone Paul Wilson and first tenor John E. “Johnny” Carter at a Hebrew Israelite congregation. Earl Lewis soon joined, and after a series of name changes – The Swallows, El Flamingos, The Five Flamingos – they ended up being known as The Flamingos. Sollie McElroy soon replaced Lewis (who joined The Five Echoes). The Flamingos’ first single, “If I Can’t Have You”, was a moderate local success, as was the follow-up “That’s My Desire”, but it was Johnny Carter’s composition of “Golden Teardrops,” with its complex vocal harmonies and Carter’s soaring falsetto, that cemented their reputation as a top regional act of the day.

In early 1955, the Flamingos signed with Chess Records, to record for their Checker Records subsidiary. At Chess/Checker, the Flamingos achieved their first national chart hit with “I’ll Be Home”, which went to #5 on Billboard’s R&B chart. The group also had success with other songs like “A Kiss From Your Lips,” “The Vow,” and “Would I Be Crying”.

The Flamingos would have their biggest seller in 1959 with another old standard from that LP: “I Only Have Eyes for You” (written in 1934 by composer Harry Warren). The group became known almost as much for their stage show and choreography as for their harmonies. Groups including The Temptations and The Tavares would later credit the group as major influences.

The Flamingos were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2000, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Doo-Wop Hall of Fame in 2004.


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