One of many groups who started their careers harmonizing in the Crown Heights district of Brooklyn, New York, USA, this ill-fated doo-wop/R&B concern was initiated by Billy Dawn Smith (lead), his brother Tommy Smith (baritone), plus Donnie Myles (tenor) and Sonny Benton (bass). Future producer Al Browne also added piano and occasional baritone. ‘This Is The Real Thing Now’ was their debut release for the small Decatur Records label in 1952. It failed to sell, and as a result the quartet moved to Duke Records. Their single for the label, ‘Why Can’t I Have You’, was released in the summer of 1952, but saw the band credited as the Mighty Dukes instead of the Billy Dawn Quartette. They then became the Four Dukes for their next single, a sprightly version of ‘Crying In The Chapel’ released in September 1953. Despite competition from a version by the Orioles, it achieved significant local sales. It was much to the group’s surprise then, that Duke Records did not renew their option. A fourth single and a fourth name eventually arrived when they found a sympathetic ear at Herald Records. ‘Eternal Love’ was credited to the Heralds, and released in September 1954. Meanwhile, Billy Dawn Smith had secured himself an A&R position at this, the group’s third label, through which he was able to find work backing several Ember and Herald Records artists in the studio. Eventually he saw his future as more in writing than in performance, and the Heralds broke up in 1956 without recording again (though in the interim they had enjoyed a regular slot on the Spotlight On Harlem television show). Billy Dawn found success with compositions for the Crests, Five Satins and Passions, as well as being a co-founder of Hull Records. Myles went on to work with the Victorians.
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