Celebrating Seniors – Little Anthony is 75
5 vintage videos from Little Anthony & The Imperials – Tears on My Pillow, Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop, I’m on the Outside Looking In, Goin’ Out of My Head, and Hurt So Bad – to celebrate Little Anthony’s 75th birthday today.
The lead singer of the R&B, soul & doo-wop group Little Anthony & the Imperials was born January 8, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York. Jerome Anthony Gourdine was born into a musical family with his gospel singer mother, singer/saxophone playing father, and 3 brothers all involved in music.
According to the Little Anthony & The Imperials website, Gourdine did some acting as a child, but while still a teenager in high school it was music that became his focus. He was first the lead vocalist for local bands the Duponts, and then The Chesters.
The Chesters, founded by Clarence Collins and now with Gourdine as lead singer, recorded the hit song Tears on My Pillow in 1958. The nickname “Little Anthony” was coined by D.J. Alan Freed. Little Anthony’s 55+ year career in the music business was well under way.
(Photo, Little Anthony then & now | nj.com)
Tears on My Pillow (1958) made it to #4 on the pop charts and #2 on the R&B charts in the US, selling over 1 million copies.
Below, a live performance of Tears on My Pillow by Little Anthony & The Imperials with an introduction by Dick Clark, in 1960.
In 1959 the Chesters changed their name to Little Anthony & The Imperials and their single Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop had over 1 million sales:
In 1961 Little Anthony Gourdine married Judy Fouseca for the first time; the couple had their first son when he was only 19. They had two sons together – Andre and Tony – before divorcing in 1963. They reunited in 1964, the same year that Little Anthony & The Imperials changed their record company. Over the next 11 years the band enjoyed a string of hit songs and numerous live television appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, American Bandstand, Merv Griffin, and other music specials.
I’m on the Outside Looking In made it to #15 & #8 on the Pop & R&B charts when released in 1964. Below, an older Little Anthony in 2004 displays his trademark high notes singing I’m on the Outside Looking In.
Goin’ Out of My Head (1964) was a #6 hit on both the Pop & R&B charts that year for Little Anthony & the Imperials.
Little Anthony & The Imperials were the first to cover the song Hurt So Bad, which scored them a #10 Pop and #3 R&B chart hit in 1964. Hurt So Bad has seen been recorded by Linda Ronstadt and many other artists. Below, a live performance in 1965 by Little Anthony & The Imperials of Hurt So Bad:
Little Anthony and Judy Fouseca remarried in 1967, eventually moving from New York to Los Angeles, California in 1971, before divorcing again in 1974. By this time Gourdine also had two daughters, Antoinette and Liza.That same year Gourdine met his second wife Linda, a teacher and twin sister to Brenda (married to the Imperials bandmate and founder, Clarence Collins). Linda married Anthony Gourdine soon after.
In 1975 Gourdine left the band to focus on acting and a solo singing career, achieving some success over the next 16 years as singer Little Anthony and actor Anthony Gourdine. Gourdine appeared in television shows (The Jeffersons), commercials and stage plays. A role in the big-screen movie Contact 303 starring Henry Fonda and Billy Dee Williams failed to help him realize his big break, as the movie was never released by the studio.
Anthony Gourdine became a born-again Christian in 1978 and has performed Christian music in concert and on albums. It wasn’t until 1992 when Gourdine was in his 50+ years that Little Anthony & The Imperials would reunite. They began with a concert in New York, then toured, performed as regulars in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace, and recorded new albums.
Little Anthony & The Imperials most recent record was You’ll Never Know released in 2008, their 50th anniversary as a band. In 2008, a now senior citizen Anthony Gourdine can be seen below as Little Anthony & The Imperials perform Hurt So Bad live on David Letterman.
Today, septuagenarian senior citizen Anthony Gourdine and his wife Linda live in Las Vegas, Nevada. They have been married for more than 40 years and have had 5 children, one of whom died 13 years ago. Their remaining children – sons Damon, Casey, Daniel, and daughter Sarah – are now grown and either working or in school. Below, Little Anthony in 2014 with 3 of his 13 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. Photo: Grand Magazine
Little Anthony Gourdine had this to say to Grand Magazine in 2014 about his biography Little Anthony: My Journey, My Destiny (2014).
“I wanted readers to see that you can look at your life and see you’ve survived and you’ve flourished, even when you thought you weren’t going to make it.“
Little Anthony & The Imperials toured in 2015 with remaining original members and seniors Little Anthony Gourdine and Ernest Wright in place; Clarence Collins retired in 2012 due to aging & health concerns. When not on tour, Gourdine golfs, and occasionally appears in stage plays or a one-man show promoting his biography.
Happy 75th Birthday, Little Anthony Gourdine!