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the chords

The Chords

the chords in 1954 - top left, clockwise: william edwards, claude feaster, rupert branker, buddy mccrae, jimmy keyes and carl feaster

The Chords comprised of:

Carl Feaster (d. 23rd January 1981, U.S.A. - lead tenor - ex: Tunetoppers)

Claude Feaster (b. 23rd September 1933, U.S.A., d. November 1975 - baritone - ex: Tunetoppers)

Jimmy Keyes (b. 22nd May 1930, The Bronx, New York, U.S.A., d. 22nd July 1995, New York, U.S.A. - first tenor - ex: Four Notes)

Floyd McRae a.k.a. Floyd Franklin 'Buddy' McRae Jr (b. 1st October 1927, The Bronx, New York, U.S.A., d. 19th March 2013, The Bronx, New York, U.S.A. - second tenor - ex: Keynotes)

James William 'Ricky' Edwards (d. 1964, U.S.A. - bass - part of another group called the Chords)


Rupert Branker (d. 1961, U.S.A. - piano - also in the Platters circa 1956)


Vernon 'Arthur' Dicks (d. 2001, U.S.A.)

Wes Neal

Joe 'Ditto' Dias (d. 1960's, U.S.A.)

The Chords were a doo-wop group formed in 1951 in the Bronx, New York, who were originally called the Keynotes, but changed their name to the Chords in 1954.

They are best remembered for their 1954 hit 'Sh-Boom' ('Life Could Be A Dream').

At the outset, the group performed in subway stations, before being discovered some three years later.

Oscar Cohen, a booking agent, brought them to the attention of Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records, where the group were signed to the CAT Records imprint, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records.

One of the first releases by the group, was a cover version of a Patti Page song entitled ‘Cross Over The Bridge’ b/w ’Sh-Boom’, a song whose flip-side became the Chords biggest and only hit record.

Sh-BoomZippity Zum

'Sh-Boom' b/w 'Little Maiden' / 'Zippity Zum (I'm In Love)' b/w 'Bless You (For Being An Angel)'

When ‘Sh-Boom’ became a hit in 1954, the single was re-released, with the a-side being replaced by the song ‘Little Maiden’.

’Sh-Boom’ was subsequently covered by a group called the Crew Cuts, who reworked the lyrics in order to achieve a wider appeal to various audiences.

’Sh-Boom’ made number 3 on the R&B charts, number 9 on the pop charts, and contributed to the introduction of Black R&B music to white audiences.

The Chords in 1954

At this time, songs such as this became open game for the entrepreneurs on the marketplace, and the rights became highly sought after by various companies.

In 1954, the group also released ‘Zippity Zum (I'm In Love)’ b/w ‘Bless You (For Being An Angel) ’for the CAT imprint.

The Chords later had to change their name to the Chordcats, as there was another group who recorded under the same name.

The Chordcats and the Chords released 'Sh-Boom and 'Zippity Zum' under both group names.


a girl to love b/w hold me baby - 1954

As the Chordcats, the group released the single 'A Girl To Love' b/w 'Hold Me Baby' for Cat Records in 1954.

This change of name led to confusion as to who recorded ’Sh-Boom’ with many pundits believing the sang being a Crew Cuts original.

The Chordcats continued to record singles, released by Atlantic, but with a modest amount of success.

As a result of the lack of success, the Chordcats became the Sh-Booms, and further personnel changes took place.


could it be b/w pretty wild - 1955

The Sh-Booms released the single 'Could It Be' b/w 'Pretty Wild' for Cat Records in 1955.

In 1956, the Sh-Booms signed a one-year contract with Columbia's Okeh subsidiary, and recorded four sides between 1957 and 1958.

The Chords

sh-booms in 1957 - l to r clockwise: carl feaster, jimmy reyes, arthur dicks, joe dias and claude feaster


i don't want to set the world on fire / lulu - 1957

In 1957, the group recorded 3 singles for the Vik imprint ('I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire', 'Lu Lu', and 'Don't Be Mad At My Heart'), then recording sides for the ATCO imprint (including 'Blue Moon' b/w 'Short Skirts'), circa 1959.

The Sh-Booms then disbanded.

Carl Feaster later recorded six singles for Roulette Records.

Rupert Branker was murdered (a mugging) in 1961 in Los Angeles.

Jimmy Keyes and Arthur Dicks sang with a group called the Popular Five in 1968.

Floyd McCrae passed away in March 2013 at the age of 85.

Floyd McCrae

floyd mccrae in 2012

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