The Flamingos

Universally hailed as one of the finest and most influential vocal groups in pop music history, the Flamingos defined doo wop at its most elegant and sophisticated, their matchless harmonies profoundly impacting the Motown Sound of the 1960s and the Philly soul of the following decade. The roots of the Flamingos lie in Baltimore, where cousins Jake and Zeke Carey grew up in the same neighborhood occupied by the Orioles' Sonny Til. In 1950, the cousins relocated to Chicago, where they joined the choir of the Jewish Church of God and Saints of Christ Congregation on the city's south side. Through the choir the Careys met Paul Wilson and Johnny Carter, and together they began performing as a quartet, performing in the same neighborhoods as another future soul legend, Sam Cooke. With the addition of lead Earl Lewis, the fledgling group's lineup was complete, with Carter and Zeke Carey installed as tenors, Wilson as baritone, and Jake Carey as bass. At first they called themselves the Swallows, but about six months later learned of a rival group with the same name back in Baltimore. Carter suggested el Flamingos, which was quickly modified to the Five Flamingos and finally just the Flamingos.