Golden Hits Of The 60s” 

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(James Sheppard, William Miller)

Hull 740

No. 2    May 29, 1961




The Heartbeats (initially called the Hearts), Jim “Shep” Shepherd’s first group, evolved from the friend-

ship  of  four students at Woodrow Wilson High:  second tenor Robbie Adams, first tenor Andrew Crump,

bass Wally Roker, and baritone Vernon Seavers.   It was 1953, and like many of the countless quartets

working the New York  City landscape,  the Hearts would sing on street comers, in echoey  school hall-

ways, and in johns.   One night, while the guys were rehearsing at Vern’s house, someone tipped them

off to some guy singing in St. Albans Park who was too good to be true.   The group dashed to the park,

where they found Shep.   The five tried out a few numbers right there in the park.   “Everyone blew their

mind,” is how Crump later described the occasion to Big Town Review‘s Jeff Beckman.


By way of their neighbor, saxophonist Illinois Jacquet,  Shep and the Hearts hooked up with Gotham/

Network Records, an independent Philly label, and recorded “Tormented” b/w “After Everybody’s

Gone.”   Since a girl group had already beaten them out on the use of the “Hearts” name, they

rechristened themselves the Heatbeat Quartet.     The printer goofed, and the record label read:  “The



A frequent visitor to Vernon’s neighborhood was Bea Casalin, a bookkeeper at Herald Records.

Bea was preparing to leave Herald and start up her own label, Hull Records, so the Heartbeats did

some recording for her in a Brooklyn basement:  “Crazy For You,” “Hurry Home Baby,” “People Are

Talking,” and the classic “A Thousand Miles Away” (#53, 1957; #96, 1960).   With the success of the

latter platter, Bea sold the Heartbeats’ contract to George Goldner’s Rama label.     Despite some truly

great recordings and the broader audience assured by their new affiliation, only one other Heartbeats

45 made the charts–“Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool”   (#78,1957).


The Heartbeats began having internal problems.    According to Raker, the group    promised away too

much of a percentage on their action;  Shep was becoming intolerably bossy and drinking heavily, and

musical differences arose.    The  end came in 1960, when Shep passed out at the   microphone in

Philadelphia.    The  Heartbeats disbanded.     Albert went on to become a psychologist.   Rob is currently

a teacher, Vernon is an electrical engineer, and Wally is working in the music business.


Two years later, Shep formed Shep & The Limelites with two former members of the Videos, Charles

Baskerville (second tenor) and Clarence Bassett (first tenor).    After two disks on Apt (“Too Young To

Wed” and “I’m So Lonely”), Shep and the new crew found their slot in pop history with an answer

record to the earlier Heartbeats number.    “I felt, since ‘A Thousand Miles Away’ was a hit,” Bassett

told Big Town Review‘s Mike Rascio, “why not write a song, relating to the guys coming home from the

service.    ‘A Thousand Miles   Away’?     You know, ‘Daddy’s Home.”‘


After the record peaked in the nation’s top10, Shep  became unmanageable.   “[Shep] felt he didn’t have

to make the gigs anymore,” Bassett recalled.    “He was just too hard to get along with, so me and

Charles gave it up.”


The Limelites broke up, but the Hull label continued to issue 45s up through 1965.    Five of these

made the Hot 100 listings.   Charles joined the Players; Clarence joined the post-prime Flamingos’ line-up,

and later sang with the Creative Funks.


Jim Sheppard was found dead in his car on the Long Island Expressway,  on January 24, 1970–he had

been beaten and robbed.