The Fidelitys

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Albany, New York-based doo wop quintet the Fidelitys formed in 1956 -- according to Marv Goldberg's profile on his www.group-harmony.com website, bass Earl Thorpe assembled the founding lineup shortly…
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Albany, New York-based doo wop quintet the Fidelitys formed in 1956 -- according to Marv Goldberg's profile on his www.group-harmony.com website, bass Earl Thorpe assembled the founding lineup shortly after relocating from Jacksonville, FL. Thorpe's cousin Emmitt Smith was assigned lead duties, with Clarence Carter and Robert McCann assuming the tenor spots and Arthur Morning coming aboard as baritone. Originally dubbed the Mellow-Tones, the group rechristened itself the Fidelitys when tenor Maurice Newton (a friend of Thorpe's from Jacksonville) moved to Albany and replaced Carter.

In December 1957 the Fidelitys traveled to New York City in the hopes of landing a slot on the Apollo Theatre's famed amateur showcase -- instead, Apollo bandleader Reuben Phillips agreed to manage the Fidelitys, securing them an audition with booking agent Ben Bart of the firm Universal Attractions. Bart in turn landed the Fidelitys an audition with Baton Records, which signed the quintet on the spot -- their debut single, a reading of the Harold Barlow/Lew Harris chestnut "The Things I Love," followed in February 1958, consciously evoking the Platters with its sophisticated, gossamer approach. The single went on to reach the number 60 spot on the Billboard pop charts, and in June the Fidelitys resurfaced with another oldie, Andy Razaf and Eubie Blake's "Memories of You" -- although its release was celebrated with a weeklong stint at the Apollo, the single failed to match the success of its predecessor, missing the charts altogether.

The Fidelitys' third Baton effort, "Captain of My Ship," appeared in the autumn of 1958, coinciding with another week at the Apollo, but when it too failed to earn attention from radio and retail the group's momentum ground to a halt. Baton owner Sol Rabinowitz shuttered the label in the spring of 1959, shortly thereafter teaming with Morty Craft to co-found the new SIR imprint -- the Fidelitys issued the Irving Berlin-penned "Marie" on SIR that July, again to little notice. "Walk with the Wind" followed in the fall, and in early 1960 the group made its final Apollo appearance. "This Girl of Mine" appeared that spring, and in August the Fidelitys issued their swan song, "Wishing Star," also the last gasp of the struggling SIR. When Smith was drafted into the military in 1962, lead Kenny French signed on his absence, and the Fidelitys continued performing live until the close of the decade. In 2005, the surviving members (Thorpe, Smith, Newton, and French) revived the group for a handful of Albany-area dates.