The Platters were one of the most successful vocal groups of the early rock and roll era. Their distinctive sound was a bridge between the pre-rock Tin Pan Alley tradition and the burgeoning new genre. The act went through several personnel changes, with the most successful incarnation comprising lead tenor Tony Williams, David Lynch, Paul Robi, Herb Reed, and Zola Taylor. The group had 40 charting singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart between 1955 and 1967, including four no. 1 hits. The Platters formed in Los Angeles in 1953 and were initially managed by Ralph Bass. The original group (Alex Hodge, Cornell Gunter, David Lynch, Joe Jefferson, Gaynel Hodge and Herb Reed) managed to land a contract with Federal Records, but found little success. Herb Reed is credited with creating the group's name. In June 1953, Gunter was replaced by lead vocalist Tony Williams. The band then released two singles with Federal Records, under the management of Ralph Bass, but found little success. The band then met music entrepreneur and songwriter Buck Ram. Ram made some changes to the lineup, most notably the addition of female vocalist Zola Taylor; later, Alex Hodge was replaced by Paul Robi. Under Ram's guidance, the Platters recorded eight songs for Federal in the R&B/gospel style, scoring a few minor regional hits on the West Coast, and backed Tony Williams' sister, Linda Hayes, One song recorded during their Federal tenure, "Only You (And You Alone)", originally written by Ram for the Ink Spots, was deemed unreleasable by the label, though copies of this early version do exist. Despite their lack of chart success, the Platters were a profitable touring group, successful enough that The Penguins, coming off their #8 single "Earth Angel", asked Ram to manage them as well. With the Penguins in hand, Ram was able to parlay Mercury Records' interest into a 2-for-1 deal. To sign the Penguins, Ram insisted, Mercury also had to take the Platters. Ironically, the Penguins would never have a hit for the label.