The Willows were a New York doo-wop group formed in 1953 as the Five Willows.
The group comprised:
Ralph Martin (b. 12th February 1935, Harlem, New York City, New York, U.S.A. d. 25th March 2010, The Bronx, New York City, New York, U.S.A.)
Tony Middleton (b. 26th June 1934, Richmond, Virginia, U.S.A.)
The Willows are best remembered for the song ‘The Church Bells May Ring', a song still played on many oldies radio stations.
Originally formed as the Dovers in 1950, the Willows were signed to several small labels (including Allen Records) before recording one single for Herald ('Lay Your Head On My Shoulder' b/w 'Baby, Come A Little') and finally, their hit for Melba.
The Dovers line-up featured Joe Martin, Ralph Martin (both brothers), Richie Davis, John Steele, and Bobby Robinson.
my dear, dearest darling b/w rock, little francis - 1953 / lay your head on my shoulder b/w baby come a little - 1953
In 1952, Tony Middleton replaced Bobby Robinson, and the group became the Five Willows.
They dropped the word’ Five’ from their name in 1954.
church bells may ring b/w baby tell me - 1956 / my angel b/w do you love me - 1956
The groups song ‘The Church Bells May Ring' b/w ‘Baby Tell Me’ was released in early 1956 (the chimes on the track were played by, a newcomer, Neil Sedaka).
‘The Church Bells May Ring' was also recorded by a group called the Diamonds, which lessened the chart success of the Willows version.
Another 1956 single, recorded for the Melba imprint and entitled ‘My Angel’ b/w ‘Do You Love Me’, was co-written by Neil Sedaka.
The Willows continued to record for various labels including Melba, Eldorado, MGM, Justice League, Spartacus and Warwick.
The group finally disbanded in 1965, later reforming in the Eighties and still performing into the new millennium.
the willows featuring tony middleton - 1988
Their only album release was called ’The Willows featuring Tony Middleton’ in 1988, which was a compilation of their singles material.
The group’s one hit, reached number 62 pop and number 11 on the R & B charts.
The Willows featuring Tony Middleton (Eldorado Records 1988)