Zola Taylor, a member of the Platters from 1954 to 1962, passed away on April 30th at the age of 69. Recovering from surgery at her home, she had been bedridden following several strokes and died from complications of pneumonia. Herb Reed, the founding member of the Platters discovered her as she was rehersing with Shirley Gunter (sister of the Coaster’s Cornell Gunter) and the Queens in 1955. The Platters had just been signed to Mercury records and their manager thought they needed a female member to soften their sound.
While the voice of lead singer Tony Williams is the sound most Platters fans associate with, Zola Taylor directly contributed to one of their National chart hits. While the familiar hit “I’m Sorry” hit number 11 back in 1957, the flip side, “He’s Mine” with Zola on lead climbed to number 16 that year on it’s own merit. She was the first female member of a predominately male group to hit the Hot 100.
Taylor was back in the spotlight in the 1980s when she and two other women all claimed to be Frankie Lymon’s widow and fought over his royalties. Lymon, a juvenile pop sensation in the 1950s with such hits as “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?,” had died of a drug overdose in 1968 at age 25.
The courts eventually sided with one of the other women. The drama was a focal point in the 1998 Lymon biopic “Why Do Fools Fall in Love.” Halle Berry played Taylor.
Ms. Taylor’s nephew, Alfie Robinson, and her closest known living relative, said his aunt continued touring with other lesser-known acts until 1996 and wed two other times. Her last husband died in 1982, he said. She had no children.
Be sure to listen for the “Fabulous Flipside – He’s Mine” at TUNEDEX MEMORIES!