A short-lived group that had the misfortune to share the same name as an existing pop vocal group thereby necessitating a name change after a really strong debut.

Not much is known about the group start or their fate under any name, but they were from Newark, New Jersey and signed to nearby Savoy Records in 1952 as The Gaylords.

Comprised of brothers George and Rudy Copes, plus James Morris, Earl Thomas and Louis Van Dyke, they were clearly focused intently on rock ‘n’ roll, not only singing with the right attitude and style, but also containing multiple songwriters in their midst who ensured they’d have appropriate material to record.

Their first single came out in summer 1952 but as good as it was the label wasn’t known for vocal groups and it failed to draw notice. However when a pop group called The Gaylords began to make waves later that year it forced them to come up with a new moniker so as to avoid confusion. But it wouldn’t be until the next year, as The Imperials, when their follow-up would be released, by which time Savoy had let them go.

They signed to Derby Records under that new name but got just one release in 1954 and presumably broke up after that, although Van Dyke sang with a group called The Ambassadors in the fall of 1953 which saw one release from that session issued the next year on Timely Records, so either he left The Imperials by then, was moonlighting on the side, or perhaps the entire group was cutting together under another name.

Their output is small, their success nonexistent, but their work more than holds up as a prime example of the exuberant sounds of the early to mid-1950’s rock vocal group phenomenon.
THE GAYLORDS AND IMPERIALS DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Savoy 852; July, 1952)
A raucous uptempo break-up record designed for dancing, replete with harsh put-downs, enthusiastic vocal support and scintillating guitar work by Mickey Baker, making this one of the hottest vocal group records of its day even without a memorable hook. (8)

(Savoy 852; July, 1952)
While not quite as well-written as the top side, marred by an exaggerated bass vocal interjection throughout, this is still an exciting romping track with another good guitar solo and a stellar lead despite an ethically questionable storyline. (7)