The Orioles - Later Years

Later Years

Left without the Orioles, Til picked up another group, The Regals, whose members were Tex Cornelius, Diz Russell, Jerry Holeman, Billy Adams, and pianist Paul Griffin. This group became the New Orioles. Til liked the Regals' modern harmony style, and the existing tunes were rearranged to match the Regals' style (in many cases, sounding rather different than they formerly had). During this time, they were often billed as "Sonny Til and his New Orioles". They left Jubilee and signed with Vee-Jay Records.

They continued with this arrangement until 1957 when Cornelius left the group. He was replaced for a short time by Frank Todd, who was replaced by Jimmy Brown. This lineup went until the last day of 1959. Holeman left the group, and Russel the next day, after finding Sonny's car (their means of transportation) repossessed. This was the end of the second Orioles.

Til recorded briefly as a solo artist before putting together the third Orioles group, with members Delton McCall, Billy Taylor, and Gerald Gregory, former bass of The Spaniels. They continued recording, this time for Charlie Parker Records. Gregory left after a couple of years and was replaced by Lawrence Joyner. This group split up in the mid 1960s.

In 1966, Til met Bobby Thomas, a long time Orioles fan. Bobby was singing in a group known as "The Vibrannaires"; coincidentally named the same as the Orioles' original name. This group consisted of Thomas, Clarence Young, Harry Accoo, and Mike Robinson. Thomas, Young, and Robinson joined Til to become the fourth Orioles group. Gregory Carroll was occasionally a member of this group. They recorded until 1975.

Following the breakup of that Orioles group, Til joined George Holmes' Ink Spots, who were Til, Holmes, Ann Lawson, and Larry Reed. With the addition of George "Pepi" Grant in 1977, they began touring as both The Ink Spots and The Orioles (as the Orioles, Lawson was billed as a special guest). Til and Grant alternated leads, and Holmes sang bass. They recorded briefly in 1977.

In 1977, Til formed the sixth Orioles group with former members: Diz Russell and Jerry Holeman from the second group, and Billy Taylor from the third group. The group also sometimes featured Eddie Palmer. This group was together in 1981, when Til died from a heart attack. He was 53.

The group continued, and by the late 1990s featured Russell, Reese Palmer, Skip Mahoney, Larry Jordan and musical director Eddie Jones, who also works with The Cadillacs. Jones and Mahoney were later replaced by George Spann and Royal Height. Bobby Thomas started his own Orioles group following Til's death. Johnny Reed played with this group until his death in June 2005.

Bobby Thomas died on May 3, 2012, from complications of diabetes at the age of 77.

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