The Hilltoppers comprised a 50's singing group that was right for the times and had a number of hits.
The group got its start at Western Kentucky College in Bowling Green, Kentucky. They formed in 1952 with Jimmy Sacca as lead singer. Others in the group included Don McGuire, Seymour Spiegelman, Billy Vaughn, and later, Ed Crowe. They took their name from the nickname of Western Kentucky College's sports teams.
The group recorded a song titled Trying which was played on local radio stations, and one of the disc jockeys sent it to a fledgling record label that had been formed in Gallatin, Tennessee by Randy Wood called Dot. The song took off nationally and landed in the top ten. The Hilltoppers had made it.
They continued to record and became a popular act, appearing on the Ed Sullivan show dressed as they always were, wearing their beanies and college sweaters. The group had 18 hit songs from 1952 to 1957, the biggest of which was Gordon Jenkins and Johnny Mercer's P.S. I Love You. Other top ten hits for the Hilltoppers included Only You (And You Alone) in 1955 and Marianne in 1957.
Billy Vaughn, who sang baritone for the group, went on to a long and illustrious career in the music business. First he became music director for Dot, and came up with the hit Melody of Love. He was the arranger/conductor for many records released on the Dot label by artists such as Pat Boone, The Fontane Sisters, Gale Storm, and others. He also recorded hits of his own with The Shifting Whispering Sands (Parts 1 & 2), Raunchy, and Sail Along Silvery Moon. Vaughn eventually had more hits on the pop charts than any orchestra leader in the rock era. He died of cancer in 1991.
Other members of the Hilltoppers continued to work in the music business, with Dot Records in one capacity or another. Jimmy Sacca was a distributor for Dot in New York City before going on to perform in clubs starting in 1967. Wood moved the Dot label to Hollywood in 1956 before he sold it nine years later, and formed a new label called Ranwood.
P.S. I Love You: The Story of the Singing Hilltoppers by Carlton Jackson is now available from the University Press of Kentucky. To order your copy, phone l.800.839.6855.
The Hilltoppers had many pleasant hits in the 50's.
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