Fred Parris, Who Led and Wrote the Five Satins’ ‘In the Still of the Night,’ Dies

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Fred Parris, the founder and longtime leader of the ’50s vocal group the Five Satins, and writer of their most memorable song, “In the Still of the Night,” died yesterday (January 13, 2022). His death at age 85 was announced on the group’s official Facebook page. The location and cause of death were not disclosed. His survivors include his wife, Emma.

When “In the Still of the Night” was released in 1956, the word “Night” was occasionally spelled “Nite.” Though it reached just #24 on the U.S. pop charts, the song’s influence has been mighty in the decades since. The doo-wop standard has been featured in such well known feature films as Dirty Dancing and The Irishman, and has been covered numerous times. (A 1992 version by the popular singing group Boyz II Men reached #2 on the Hot 100.)

Rolling Stone ranked “In the Still of the Night” #90 in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In the annual listener survey by New York oldies station WCBS-FM, the song ranked #1 for decades.

Parris formed the Five Satins in New Haven, Conn., in 1954. Shortly thereafter, its lineup solidified with Al Denby joining original members Ed Martin, Jim Freeman and Nat Mosley. Not long after the success of “In the Still of the Night,” Parris enlisted in the U.S. Army and the vocal group reorganized its lineup. Upon his return, they reshuffled once again, with original member Lewis Peeples returning to the fold. There have been dozens of members over the years.

The group’s tribute reads: “Sadly the music world lost one of the greats yesterday as Fred Parris passed away after a brief illness.

“Fred’s classic song ‘In the Still of the Night’ has been recognized as one of the greatest love songs of all time and the number one requested song of the doo-wop era. Fred also wrote several other classic songs and his gorgeous voice enthralled audiences world-wide for decades.

“The Five Satins family is devastated by this loss but appreciative of having shared Fred’s music with thousands of fans and friends.

Fred Parris and his multi-Platinum award for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack

“Rest in peace Maestro Fred Parris.”

“In the Still of the Night” was one of 12 tracks on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, along with the Bill Medley-Jennifer Warnes smash duet, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” The album has sold a reported 33 million copies worldwide.

Parris told a 2021 interviewer, “I started writing songs, which I really hadn’t planned on doing. I heard the other songs that groups were recording and I just tried my hand at it. And that’s what happened.”

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  1. George
    #1 George 15 January, 2022, 01:37

    So sorry to hear of the passing of Fred Parris. Ronnie Spector passed the day before and the day before that we lost Rosa Hawkins of the Dixie Cups fame song, Going to the Chapel. May they Rest In Peace

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  2. John F. Marfiak
    #2 John F. Marfiak 15 January, 2022, 10:02

    In 1994 I sold Fred Parris a tape deck when I worked at nobody beats the Wiz in the Milford Connecticut Mall. As I was checking him out for his purchase he told me his name and I looked at him. I’ve always loved In the Still of the Night and other Classics. I’m a big music lover. My older brother and sister turned me on to the great songs of the 50s and 60s. I’m a 65 year old male. Fred autographed a piece of paper for me and I have it in a picture frame which I cherish very much. My condolences to his family. Another great rocker joins the other great rockers in Rock and Roll Heaven….

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  3. Pete
    #3 Pete 16 January, 2022, 00:24

    I saw Fred Parris and the Five Satins perform at my American Legion Post #27 in Dover, N.J. back in the early 1970s. It was the best show I ever attended! I also saw him perform at the Loews Jersey Theatre in Jersey City about 15 years ago, a fine show as well ! Your great music will live on as your legacy ! “In the Still of the Night” is one of the best doo wop tunes of all time!

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