The Impalas formed in 1958 in Brooklyn, New York, with Tony Carlucci singing first tenor, Lenny Renda singing second tenor, and Richard Wagner singing baritone.
They began practising in the back room of a candy store and on local street corners, where they were heard by Joe Frazier, who called himself ‘Speedo’. His offer to help their harmonies turned into a leading vocal spot with the group.
The Impalas issued the single First Date on the small Hamilton label, which went unnoticed.
One evening their street-corner singing attracted the attention of Artie Zwirn and Aristides Giosasi who liked their sound and had an original song called Sorry, I Ran All The Way Home.
In early 1959 an introduction to Alan Freed led to an MGM audition and a record deal with MGM’s Cub subsidiary.
Sorry, I Ran All The Way Home became a #2 hit single and even made it into the UK charts at #28 in the summer of 1959.
The follow-up, Oh What A Fool (also penned by Zwirn and Giosasi), had 100,000 advance sales. This led Cub to believe that no promotion was necessary and the single was given only the slightest exposure. The record died at #86.
Two more Cub singles and an LP followed, but there were no further hits and after a final single for 20th Century in 1961, The Impalas called it a day.
In 1980, Frazier resurrected The Impalas as a touring act. They also issued one single, My Hero, in 1982.
The famous “uh-oh” at the beginning of Sorry, I Ran All The Way Home was not intended, but an utterance by Speedo acknowledging that he had missed the cue given by Leroy Holmes, the arranger and conductor of the session. The A&R man said to leave it in, so the “uh-oh” was repeated on the next take.
Joe “Speedo” Frazier