In The Still Of The Nite

Album: In the Still of the Nite (1956)
Charted: 24
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  • One of the most famous songs in doo-wop history, "In The Still Of The Nite" has a very unusual origin story. It was written by group member Fred Parris, who had joined the US Army. As a recruit, he travelled by train between Philadelphia and his home town of New Haven, and it was on these trips that he wrote the song. Soon after it was recorded, he shipped off for Japan, where he was stationed. When it became a hit, he watched from afar as a different permutation of The Five Satins was assembled to tour America - only two of the guys who recorded the song were part of this lineup. Parris wasn't discharged until 1958; when he returned, he set up a new version of the group and hit the road.
  • The song was recorded in the basement of St. Bernadette Church in the group's hometown of New Haven, Connecticut. They first tried recording the song in another New Haven building (on Whalley Avenue), but street noise degraded the recording. The church basement had great acoustics and was insulated from ambient noise, making it a perfect place to record.

    The group was managed by Marty Kugell, who distributed their material on his own label, Standord Records (small operations like this were common at the time). His friend Vinny Mazzetta was an altar boy at the church, and Mazzetta convinced the pastor to let the group use the basement on a Sunday afternoon following a church service. They used the church piano along with drums, a guitar, a cello tuned low for the bass sound, and a saxophone, which Mazzetta played.
  • In this song, the singer remembers holding a girl close on a night in May, and hoping to be with her again. Fred Parris wrote it about a former girlfriend he was hoping would return to him. She never did - when she moved from Connecticut to California, he never saw her again. She likely never knew the song was about her.
  • On the same day they recorded this song, The Five Satins also recorded an uptempo track called "The Jones Girl," which was issued as the A-side of the single, with "In The Still Of The Nite" the flip. Disc jockeys played the B-side instead, and the song took off on the East Coast, especially in New York City, where it went to #1 on the local chart.
  • The "Shoo-doop, shoo be doop" was lifted from a 1955 song by Tony Allen called "Night Owl."
  • When they recorded this song, there were only four members of the group, but they called themselves The Five Satins because that was the trend, with groups like The Four Lads and The Four Coins falling out of favor to acts like The Five Crowns and The Five Royales. The lineup was rather fluid, and had a lot to do with who was available, since some of the members were in the military.
  • Cole Porter wrote a song called "In The Still Of The Night" in 1937 that was recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, Dion & The Belmonts, Perry Como and many others. To distinguish it from that one, the Five Satins song was first released with the title "I'll Remember (In The Still Of The Nite)."
  • The original version of this song charted two more times as a doo-wop revival emerged in the early '60s. In 1960 it made #81; in 1961 it reached #99.
  • The Five Satins followed this up with "To The Aisle," which reached #25 in 1957. Their label, Standord, fell on hard times and made a deal with a larger label, Ember, to distribute them. This didn't go well for Standord or for the song's writer, Fred Parris, who claimed the Ember never paid them proper royalties. Most of the song's profits came after Ember took control of it, as the track became a golden oldie with lots of cover versions and a place on many radio playlists. It also appeared on a boatload of compilation albums.
  • Boyz II Men recorded this in 1992. Their version was used in a TV miniseries about The Jacksons and went to #3 US.

    The Crests - #102, 1961
    Santo & Johnny - #58, 1964
    Paul Anka - #64, 1969
  • In 1986, country singer Ronnie Milsap released "Lost in the Fifties Tonight," where he sings about fond memories listening to this song, which he sings in the chorus. It went to #1 on the Country chart and earned Milsap a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. It was also nominated for Best Country & Western Song.
  • The intentional misspelling of "Night" was a popular doo-wop trend. The Dells also did it in 1956 on their song "Oh What A Nite."
  • The song got a boost when it was featured in the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing and included on the soundtrack.
  • The song's writer Fred Parris ended up working jobs at High Standard, Olin and Roskin Distributors. He was working at Roskin in 1969 when the group re-formed for a doo-wop revival show at Madison Square Garden. After the show, he had to quit his job, as lots of offers came in for the group to perform.

Comments: 8

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1960 {August 13th} Dion and the Belmonts performed Cole Porter's "In the Still of The Night"* on the ABC-TV program, 'The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show'...
    At the time "In the Still of The Night" was at #46 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, the following week it peaked at #38 {for 1 week} and it spent seven weeks on the Top 100...
    Between 1958 and 1960 the N.Y.C. trio had nine records on the Top 100 chart, two made the Top 10, "A Teenager In Love" for one week in May of 1959, and "Where or When" for one week in February of 1960...
    In 1959 their "Every Little Thing I Do" peaked at #48, and the record's flip-side, "A Lover's Prayer", reached #73 on the Top 100...
    Trio member Carlo Mastrangelo passed away at the age of 78 on April 4th, 2016...
    May he R.I.P.
    * And from the 'For What It's Worth' department, earlier in 1960 on January 25th the completely different doo-wop version of "In The Still of The Nite" by The Five Satins peaked at #81 and that was also it's fourth and final week on the Top 100...
    Four years earlier in 1956 it originally peaked at #24, and in 1961 it entered the Top 100 for a third time, for one week at position #99...
  • Marcia from Modesto, CaIt's not just the soulful lyrics that draw me to this but the heart wrenching voice of the singer and the tender melody. Hearing it again after so many years brings me back to my youth as a teen in the head spinning under the soft lights at the community Center dance every Friday as I longed for the bad boy I used to daydream about..tall and blond...a loner who dressed like what we called a "hood".

    Tonight as I listened to it again in 2019 I felt that same sweet longing as I turned to my guy ..still young and muscular..and as he held me in his arms I found myself lost in the the still of the night you hold me so tight, and with his hard muscular arms wrapped around me, Kissing his chest and lost in the song, I felt what the Satins meant knowing that in the still of the night there was also the soft vulnerability and passion even a strong man would succumb to before and after holding his lover tight.

    Love and passion and songs like this pull it all together. Oh what the still of the night holds for lovers! I hope your life is a wonderland of passion....make it happen.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 21st 1982, "Memories of Days Gone By {Medley}" by Fred Parris and the Five Satins entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #89; it stayed on the chart for 5 weeks, peaking at #71...
    And the final song in the medley was the Five Satin's own "In the Still of the Night"; it made the Top 100 on three different occasions, in 1956 it peaked at #24, then in 1960 it reached #81, and in 1961 it made the Top 100 for one week at position #99.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 12th 1964,* Santo and Johnny's instrumental covered version of "In the Still of the Nite" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #93; eventually it peaked at #58 and spent 7 weeks on the Top 100...
    Between 1959 and 1964 the duo, who were brothers, had six Top 100 records; with one making the Top 10 and it reached #1, "Sleep Walk", for two weeks on September 21st, 1959...
    * And also on January 12th, 1964 the Beatles debut on the Top 100 when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" entered the chart at #45.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyThe Five Satins released this song three different times; first in 1956 & it peaked at #24, then in 1960 & it peaked at #81, and finally in 1961 & it just barely made the Top 100, peaking at #99!!!
  • Mark from El Paso, TxLillian Robinson!...Where are you??!!
  • Dick from Philly, PaWas recorded in St.Bernadette Parish Hall in EAST Haven,CT.
    Originally released on Standord(w/an O)as #6106A.Label also states "side 1".It was never intended to be a "B" side.In fact,The Jones Girl was written sitting on the stage at St. B. after they had an acceptable take of "NIGHT".
    Legal title is: I'll Remember(In the Still of the Night)to differentiate it from the 1936 Cole Porter song.
    There are over 60 cover versions ranging from soul to country to disco!
  • Henry from Kingston, NyI can't believe no one's commented on this yet. Probably the prototype for all doo-wop to come after it. Wonderful song.
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