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Chatting with Little Anthony of Little Anthony and the Imperials

Little Anthony, the lead singer of Little Anthony and the Imperials, chatted about his respected career in the music industry.

Little Anthony
Little Anthony. Photo Courtesy of Little Anthony.
Little Anthony. Photo Courtesy of Little Anthony.

Little Anthony, the lead singer of Little Anthony and the Imperials, chatted about his respected career in the music industry.

A living R&B, soul, and rock legend, Little Anthony has been a part of the music business for nearly 67 years.

Little Anthony on his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In 2009, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with his group. Smokey Robinson did the induction honors.

On this recognition, he said, “I can only speak for myself and the guys when we were together. We didn’t ever look at it as someday getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Maybe some of the younger acts look at it that way.”

“We don’t have any Grammy Awards because when we first started out in the late ’50s, the Grammy Awards weren’t a thing yet we have sold over 35 million records,” he explained.

“When we finally got inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it was surreal. We went to Cleveland, Ohio, for all the festivities,” he said.

“There were so many artists there that were of high esteem and they’ve accomplished so much. To see them honor us, was incredible. It was crazy seeing all these great artists there, and to be recognized alongside them. When your peers honor you, that is a very exciting thing,” he acknowledged.

According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website, they were credited for the following: “In a New York music scene flooded with talent, Little Anthony and the Imperials were the cream of the crop.”

The Rock Hall homepage description continued, “Little Anthony and the Imperials were so talented that their voices transcended the trends, landing them hits in multiple decades and genres. Their trademark imploring vocals and confident command of the stage charmed audiences everywhere.”

Music and songwriting inspirations

On his music and songwriting inspirations, Little Anthony said, “I was a quasi-writer but we had such amazing songwriters working with us such as Sylvester Bradford and Al Lewis who wrote ‘Tears on My Pillow,’ as well as Teddy Randazzo and Don Costa wrote a lot of our hits, and they were an integral part of our success.”

“We came out of doo-wop and we transitioned into pop singing. At the time, that was something that not many people had done,” he said. “We bridged that world by the way we were singing… We were contemporary pop R&B singers. We were in between the pop world and the R&B world.”

“Overall, we were very fortunate to work with some of the best in the industry,” he added.

The digital age

On being a part of the digital age, now with streaming, technology, and social media being prevalent, he said, “I am technically challenged. A lot of times, I need my granddaughter to help me with it. When we recorded on analog, it was just so raw and there was something beautiful about the sound that came out of these record companies.”

“Today, you can record anywhere with the technology, even in your bathroom. The kids these days are going on YouTube and they are finding these things out… the next thing you know, they have vinyl records, and all of a sudden, they are selling turntables again,” he added.

Advice for young and aspiring artists

For young and emerging artists, he said, “If you are thinking about doing it for the money, or becoming famous, or becoming a star, don’t do it for those reasons because you will not be happy.”

“Do it because you love it, it is all about passion. If you have a passion for anything, then that is your destiny. You’ve got to be in love with what you are doing,” he noted.

“When we first started out, we were kids and we were passionate about what we were doing, and we liked the sounds,” he said. “We liked what was coming out of our voices, and we learned how to blend with each other. We knew that our songs and our music made people happy.”

Stage of his life

On the title of the current chapter of his life, he revealed, “The Twilight of life of Little Anthony.”

“I am an octogenarian now, so I’ve been blessed to be able to sing in a very high level, especially at my age,” he said.

“I actually sing in the same key as I did when I was 16 or 17 years old. Even though I used to live in high C… now, I just visit that area here and there. I really learned to sing because of Don Costa, who told me that I had the ‘it’ factor.”

Little Anthony and his group are also members of the following Halls of Fame: the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, and the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame, among others.

Success

Regarding his definition of the word success, Little Anthony said, “First, I’m alive, and I am healthy. I’ve achieved things that I didn’t realize I could achieve. I was in a house full of music from day one.”

Message for his fans and supporters

For his fans and supporters, Little Anthony remarked, “Most of my fans are octogenarians too, or they are getting close to it. Oftentimes, I notice in the audiences that they are a lot of young people, and I have been able to win them over.”

“These days, I’ve been able to gain new audiences, and not lose any audiences, and I’ve been very grateful,” he concluded.

To learn more about Little Anthony and the Imperials, check out their official homepage.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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