The Five Stars were a doo-wop group consisting of lead singer Ron Russell, Jim Bruhn (1st tenor), Bill Campbell (baritone), Larry Hoffman (2nd tenor), and Bruce Miller (bass, replacement for Ron Bunyard and later replaced by Boyd "Popcorn" Johnson). Jim Bruhn provided the instruments.
Although many bands emerged in the 1950s sharing similar or identical names, this music group was based out of Indianapolis, Indiana and appeared under the record labels for Kernel, Dot, Hunt, and Note.
The Five Stars held regional interest throughout Indiana and the Midwest, but usually bubbled just under Billboard's Top 100. The group formed in October 1956 after three friends (Russell, Campbell, and Hoffman) experimented with harmonizing with the car radio. Campbell invited fellow madrigal singer Jimmy Bruhn as the first tenor and Russell invited Ron Bunyard as bass. Bunyard would only perform with the group, dubbed "The Emeralds" for three months and was replaced by another of Campbell's fellow madrigal singer, Bruce Miller.
They appeared on a local central Indiana television show hosted by Boyd Bennett and his band, the Rockets. Bennett introduced them to his producer John F. Young, writer of "Atom Bomb Baby", a song that rode the incoming tide of interest for the Atomic Age. Young would also change their name to "The Five Stars", citing that "The Emeralds" was already used by other bands. Ironically, they realized later that other groups had also performed under the name as "The Five Stars".
"Atom Bomb Baby" with "You Sweet Little Thing" as the B-Side would become The Five Stars' first record, initially released on a local Kentucky label, Kernel Records. It got sufficiently popular enough to be picked up by a major record label, Dot Records, which brought The Five Stars to nationwide attention. Miller, however, would drop out and be replaced by Boyd Johnson.
Their followup to their hit was as backup to singer Dottie Fergerson for "Slow Burn" and "You and Me and Love" on May 24, 1957. It too was released on Kernel before being picked up by Mercury Records, the label unfortunately omitting their contribution.
In March 1958, they released "Pickin' On the Wrong Chicken" and "Dreaming" on the Indianapolis label, Note Records. The then-unknown jazz guitarist, Wes Montgomery also performed in the session. It was another regional hit and was picked up by Hunt Records for nationwide distribution. Sponsored by the support of Dick Clark's fledgling record label, The Five Stars appeared the same month on American Bandstand to perform "Pickin' On the Wrong Chicken". Though Clark played the record steadily over six weeks, it failed to reach Billboard's Top 100. The same year, The Five Stars recorded "My Paradise" and "Friction".
Their last known record was "Am I Wasting My Time" and "Gambling Man" in 1959. The group would eventually break up in 1961.
The group experienced a renewed interest after "Atom Bomb Baby" was featured in a 1982 documentary film, The Atomic Cafe, detailing a modern retrospective at the culture behind the Atomic Age and the Cold War.
The current surviving members are Ron Russell and Bill Campbell.
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