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1987 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Clyde McPhatter

Clyde McPhatter

  • Year:
  • Inducted by:
    Ben E. King
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Clyde McPhatter Signature

The unlikely star that guided music towards soul.

Clyde McPhatter injected R&B with the unrestrained emotional zeal of gospel music. He was one of many to cross over from the sacred to the secular, but his high tenor was one of a kind.

Hall of Fame Essay


Michael Hill

Clyde McPhatter was among the first singers to rhapsodize about romance in gospel’s emotionally charged style. 

It wasn’t an easy step for McPhatter to make; after all, he was only eighteen, a minister’s son born in North Carolina and raised in New Jersey, when vocal arranger and talent manager Billy Ward decided in 1950 that McPhatter would be the perfect choice to front his latest concept, a vocal quartet called the Dominoes. 

At the time, quartets (which, despite the name, often contained more than four members) were popular on the gospel circuit. They also dominated the R&B field, the most popular being decorous ensembles like the Ink Spots and the Orioles.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Program 1987
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Clyde McPhatter_quote

he built a foundation for me to be a person

Ben E. King

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