“Crying in the Chapel” was a song written by Artie Glenn for his son Darrell to sing. Darrell recorded it, while still in high school, in 1953 along with Artie’s band the Rhythm Riders. It became a local hit and publishers got hold of it and it went nationwide. June Valli had the biggest hit, reaching #4 on Billboard after charting for 17 weeks beginning August 1st, 1953. That same year (omitted sic) the Orioles recorded it and it became a major success. The Orioles version reached #11 [Pop and #1 R&B]. (SOURCE)
Please understand that even though Elvis Presley recorded a cover of this song in 1960 and its 1965 release became a hit for him — it is just that — a cover hit. Elvis is NOT the originator as so many people in the blogosphere seem to think. And, IMHO, he certainly does not have the definitive version. To me it is The Orioles version that I grew up loving and hearing my Dad sing. But then again I have not yet heard Darrell Glenn’s original version. The Orioles formed 1948 in Baltimore, MD and disbanded in 1954, the year I was born. So they were a bit before my time. But this was one of my Dad’s favorite groups, so I grew up listening to their music from the day I was born — and specifically “Crying in the Chapel” which was a favorite. I so love hearing male vocals harmonizing. The Orioles, consisting of Sonny Til, Tommy Gaither, George Nelson, Johnny Reed and Alexander Sharp, became the first Black group to have what was called a “crossover” hit. The song “It’s Too Soon to Know” was #1 on the R&B charts but also CROSSED OVER to #13 on the pop charts. Another “first” for the group is they started a trend of vocal groups named after birds. You know — there were The Penguins, The Falcons, The Flamingos, The Larks, The Ravens, etc. Originally the Vibranaires, The Orioles re-named themselves after the Maryland State bird. Continuing to have many hits on Natural records the group peaked in 1949 until the following events as explained by Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music:
“In 1950, Gaither, Nelson, and Reed suffered an automobile accident that killed Gaither and severely injured the other two members; Nelson quit the group later in the year. As Reed recovered from the accident, the group found replacements for Gaither and Nelson, finally settling on guitarist Ralph Williams and vocalist Gregory Carroll. The new lineup of the band had its first hit in 1952, when “Baby Please Don’t Go” reached number eight on the R&B charts. The following year, the group had their biggest hit with “Crying in the Chapel.” Released in the summer of 1953, “Crying in the Chapel” spent five weeks on the R&B charts and reached number 11 on the pop charts, eventually going gold.”
So as you see this big hit was actually by the second incarnation of the group. There is so much more to The Orioles Story. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. In 1998 they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. Singers.Com also has a nice synopsis of the group.
With Fathers Day coming in two days, I would like to say thank you to my Father for giving me the love of music! It is one of the most special things that my Dad gave me. He told his wife before he passed that he was afraid his children would forget him … but I think about him every single day, especially when I listen to music and that happens to be most of the time.
I love you Daddy. This one’s for you … from one of those infamous PBS specials held in the very recent past.
Thanks for visiting so we can share the music.