Management Arm

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Was Cal Roberts ever a member of the Platters?


The group's lineup has changed many times. The original lineup in 1953 included lead vocalist Cornell Gunter, Herb Reed, Alex Hodge, Joe Jefferson, and David Lynch. This lineup changed when the group signed with Ram, who built the group around Tony Williams' distinctive and versatile voice and his ability to bring life to Ram's songs. Within a year, Hodge, Jefferson, and Gunter were out, and Paul Robi, Zola Taylor, and new lead Tony Williams were in. This lineup - the one remembered for the group's biggest and most successful hits - lasted until 1960. At that time Williams left for a solo career, and was replaced by Sonny Turner. Mercury refused to issue further Platters releases without Williams on lead vocals, provoking a lawsuit between the label and manager Ram. The label spent two years releasing old Williams-era material until the group's contract elapsed.

As the group's lineup splintered further, endless wrangling over the lucrative "Platters" name began, with injunctions, non-compete clauses and multiple versions of the act touring at the same time. Williams would lead his own Platters group, as would Zola Taylor (who left in 1964) and Paul Robi (who departed in 1965). The Buck Ram Platters had the strongest contractual claim to the name, despite having only one original member (Herb Reed). Despite the confusion, "The Platters" lineup with lead vocalist Sonny Turner, Nate Nelson, David Lynch, Herb Reed and Sandra Dawn signed to Musicor Records and enjoyed a short chart renaissance in 1966-67, with the comeback singles I Love You 1000 Times ,With This Ring, and the Motown-influenced "Washed Ashore".

Herb Reed, the final member of the original Platters, left in 1969. He would eventually lead an "official" Platters group under license from The Five Platters, Inc. Nelson filled Robi's vacancy in 1967 and stayed until suffering a fatal heart attack in 1984. Sonny Turner left in 1970 and was replaced by Monroe Powell. (Turner led his own Platters group starting in [[1970].) Powell remained a constant member from 1970 to 1995. That year, a dispute between Powell and owner/manager Jean Bennett (who had purchased Personality Productions, the booking/management arm of The Platters business, from Ram in 1966) led to the two parting ways. At the time, the group's lineup was in limbo, leaving one person, Kenn Johnson, as the only other group member. Powell and Johnson continued touring as The Platters, with Bennett hiring five new singers to be the "Buck Ram Platters," with lead Tyrone Sweet.

A number of legal challenges have developed among the many groups of Platters. Monroe Powell was sued by Jean Bennett, and his group must now include his name in billing (e.g. The Platters feat. Monroe Powell). Those looking to hear the classic lineup of songs had their pick of approved, disputed, and ersatz Platters, such as Sonny Turner's, Zola Taylor's, Ritchie Jones' (member 1984-85), Milton Bullock's (member 1967-70), the late Paul Robi's (managed by his wife), Jean Bennett's "Buck Ram" Platters, Monroe Powell's , Herb Reed's, and several groups with no current ties to the original group (many had once contained former members, who were retired or deceased).

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