3 min readLittle Anthony and The Imperials – Hurt So Bad (1964)

And here’s the released studio version

Group members were Jerome Anthony “Little Anthony” Gourdine, Ernest Wright, Clarence Collins and Sammy Strain and the song was written by Teddy Randazzo, Bobby Weinstein, and Bobby Hart (born Robert Luke Harshman). When DCP Records head Don Costa asked for another hit for Little Anthony, Hart, Randazzo and Weinstein went to a conference room between sets and came up with “Hurt So Bad”, a song about a man who feels intense pain when he sees his former love. Bobby Hart went on to tremendous songwriting success with Tommy Boyce, coming up with many hit songs for The Monkees. Hart considers “Hurt So Bad” his crowning achievement as a songwriter, although he knows that he’ll always be remembered for his hits with The Monkees.

In 1957, a doo-wop group known as the Chesters existed with members Clarence Collins, Tracy Lord, Nathaniel Rodgers, and Ronald Ross. Anthony Gourdine, a former member of the Duponts, joined as lead vocalist and Ernest Wright took over from Ross. Changing their name to the Imperials, they signed with End Records in 1958. Their first single was “Tears on My Pillow”, which was an instant hit. (While playing this song, D.J. Alan Freed, who also popularized the term “Rock and Roll”, came up with the name “Little Anthony” which the group adopted).

Little Anthony & The Imperials - Tears On My Pillow (Lyrics)

Throughout their careers the members of the Imperials, as well as their record label, changed frequently. Anthony Gourdine twice tried a solo carerr, with minimal success, and a group of revolving members using the name are still performing. Imperials founder Collins, now retired, has been replaced by Johnny Britt and original members Wright and Gourdine round out the group. When the group is not touring, Gourdine does stage plays and currently also has a one-man show, which he is currently doing to support his recently released biography, and to celebrate his 55-plus years as a performer.

“Hurt So Bad”, a powerful, dramatic ballad recording, has become one of The Imperials’ best-known songs, and has inspired numerous cover versions. Linda Ronstadt had a Top 10 hit with her cover version in 1980, as did The Lettermen who took the song to number twelve in September 1969.

Little Anthony and the Imperials received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award in 1993. They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15, 2006. On January 14, 2009, it was announced that Little Anthony and the Imperials had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In addition to Anthony, Wright, Collins, and Strain, original Imperials member Nathaniel “Nate” Rogers was also present to be honored. Deceased original Imperials member Tracey Lord was inducted posthumously; his sons accepted his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction on his behalf. Sammy Strain is one of the few artists in popular music history who is a double Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, having been inducted with the O’Jays in 2005 and the Imperials in 2009. In 2018, Little Anthony and the Imperials were inducted into the National Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in Detroit.

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