March 9, 2008

More on Hal Miller and the Rays

March 9th, 2008

Recently, we did a Youtube video blog post of Hal Miller and the Rays singing their 1957 hit “Silhouettes,” a great song featured in Act One of Jersey Boys. Four Seasons historian has a very interesting follow-up story about Hal Miller and the Rays!

"An Angel Cried" by Hal Miller and the Rays Single

By David Cace

While I was too young to remember this TV clip when it originally aired in 1957, I recall seeing it at one time over the years and can relate a story I recall hearing about it, however, I cannot vouch for its authenticity as an historical matter. Perhaps some of the other Blog historians can add to this story.

My understanding is that this clip is of Hal Miller’s appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” The reason I say Hal Miller’s appearance and not the Rays is that the story I’ve heard is that on their way to do the Ed Sullivan Show in New York from Philadelphia where they lived, Hal Miller and his fellow Rays were in a fairly serious car accident and only Hal Miller was able to perform as originally scheduled on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” The three background singers on the TV clip are not the Rays, but three singers who substituted for the “Rays.” I don’t believe that the group’s billing at that time was Hal Miller and the Rays but rather just the “Rays.”

The group’s billing did officially change to Hal Miller and The Rays for “An Angel Cried” on the Topix label, with the 4 Seasons as The “Rays” as we know from Jersey Boys. A picture of the actual record of “An Angel Cried” by Hal Miller and The Rays on the Topix label is attached.

By the way, “An Angel Cried” was covered on the 4 Seasons’ “Rag Doll” album in what is essentially a Frankie Valli solo recording. On “An Angel Cried” Frankie uses his complete range going from deep baritone to soaring soprano at the end – a truly magnificent vocal performance of a beautiful song for which unfortunately we hear only a snippet in Jersey Boys and on the cast CD. I would love to hear Tituss Burgess or Kris Coleman do a complete rendition of “An Angel Cried.”


  1. Another instance where eventual Four Seasons are widely reported to sing back up is “Here I Stand” by Wade Flemons. I’m not sure if this is why the Rip Chords’ version of “Here I Stand” sounded so much like the Four Seasons that it was mistaken by some in 1963 as being the Four Seasons. The Rip Chords included later Beach Boy Bruce Johnston at one time, though some say Johnston was not with the Rip Chords at the time “Here I Stand” was recorded.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — March 9, 2008 @ 1:00 pm

  2. Fascinating, David. Where did you hear this? A google search for pictures of the group shows at least one (the one in the middle, and maybe also the one on our right) of the three backup singers does appear to part of the Rays. Either way, the harmonies as sung on Ed Sullivan sound richer and fuller than on the recorded version.

    “Here I Stand,” Ted? Awright! I haven’t heard anyone even mention, let alone play that record since the mid-60′s. It never reminded me of the Four Seasons, though; more reminiscent, in my opinion, of Mickey and Sylvia’s “Love Is Strange,” particularly in the second half. Then again, I only know the Rip Chords’ version, decidedly different from their second hit, “Hey Little Cobra.”

    Comment by stubbleyou — March 9, 2008 @ 3:57 pm

  3. Perhaps it’s the falsetto and doo-wop singing style in “Here I Stand”, at least by the Rip Chords, that is reminiscent of the Four Seasons, stubbleyou. The mother up the street who drove the neighbor kids to school said it was the Four Seasons, though I did see a copy of a local radio station’s playlist a little later, which listed it at #57 and said it was by the Rip Chords. It was on the chart during the chart run of “Walk Like A Man”, Ain’t That A Shame”, and “Soon (I’ll Be Home Again)”. In recent years, I wondered if the Rip Chords released it at that time because the singing style was so popular.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — March 9, 2008 @ 11:35 pm

  4. David, you continue to astound me with your vast knowledge of everything Frankie Valli/Four Seasons!! It was indeed a pleasure meeting you (and your lovely wife) just a couple of weeks ago at John Lloyd Young’s appearance at Jazz at Lincoln Center. And as for Ted, all I can say is that if I was ever a contestant on a all-Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons-category “Jeopardy” game show, and had you and David as the other contestants, I would probably get shut-out on every question!!! You both do a great job of providing much information about this historical musical act. Thank you for your excellent contributions to the JBB. I look forward to your future postings.

    Comment by Len Gersten — March 10, 2008 @ 2:24 am

  5. SYU – Like I said in my brief little write-up, I can’t recall where I heard this story. But when I did hear it years ago, it stuck in my brain as something unique probably because Ed Sullivan was one of the few people who gave Rock’n'Roll groups any acknowledgement or legitimacy in those early days and it seemed quite sad that here you have 4 young guys from nowhere – sound familar – who get a big break and wind up getting into a car accident on the way to the big show – Not Buddy Hollyish by any stretch but nonetheless sad. I figured guys like you who use the internet for research would be far better qualified than I to find confirmation of this story I heard many years ago. I really don’t have anything more to add at this point. Thanks for checking on google.

    Comment by David Cace — March 10, 2008 @ 7:12 am

  6. another point about AN ANGEL the rays is that THE GREAT CHUCK JACKSON USED THE SAME BAND BACKING ON HIS song called KING OF THE MOUNTAIN~~ have a listen to his ENCORE album on WAND 655……killer.

    Comment by james taylor — October 5, 2009 @ 5:37 pm

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