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  • Writer's pictureEd Gaines

Fred Parris, ‘In the Still of the Night’ Songwriter and Five Satins Frontman, Dies at 85

Fred Parris, frontman for The Five Satins, a doo-wop group whose smash 1956 ballad “In the Still of the Night” was prominently used in movies including "Dirty Dancing" and "The Irishman", died Thursday after a brief illness. He was 85.

On Feb. 19, 1956, Parris and one of his bandmates, Al Denby, were at home on military leave in New Haven, Conn., when they recorded “In the Still of the Night” in the St. Bernadette Catholic Church basement. It was the heart of the doo-wop era, when groups such as Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers and The Platters were scoring radio hits and New Haven had its own Nutmegs, Chestnuts, Pyramids and Desires.

Parris had written the song in Philadelphia while on guard duty at a U.S. Army base.

The Five Satins hadn’t expected “In the Still of the Night” to take off, and by the time that it did, hitting No. 3 on the R&B charts and No. 24 on the pop charts, Parris had returned to active duty in Japan. Another singer, Bill Baker, had to take his place at performances until he returned. The hit would chart three different times on Billboard‘s Hot 100, in 1956, 1960 and 1961.

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