The Imperials were formed in 1964 as a Southern Gospel super group by Jake Hess. Hess handpicked members from other quartets to form the Imperials. This year, 2019, marks their 55th year of performing and recording. The group began as a quartet and is once again a quartet, but they’ve gone through multiple changes in style and personnel during those 55 years.
During the 1960s they recorded and performed with Elvis Presley in Las Vegas and also appeared with Jimmy Dean in a number of concerts and on his TV show. They stopped performing with Elvis in 1971 and with Dean in 1972.
Their sound began to swing toward a more contemporary Christian feel in the early 1970s and they became the first interracial Christian group in the country when they added Sherman Andrus, a former member of Andrae Crouch and the Disciples. Andrus and fellow member Terry Blackwood left to form their own group, Andrus, Blackwood & Company.
Russ Taff joined the Imperials in 1976 and stayed with them for five years, being replaced by Paul Smith. It was Smith who sang lead on the 1985 “Let The Wind Blow.” The title track from that album was the group’s 8th #1 single.
Smith left the group shortly after release of “Let The Wind Blow” to pursue a solo career. The group continued as a CCM act until the release of “Big God” in 1991 when they returned to a more traditional Southern Gospel quartet sound.
In addition to Andrus, Blackwood, Taff and Smith, David Will, Jonathan Pierce and David Robertson spent time with the group before striking out on solo careers. As of 2019 the Imperials consist of the only original member still in the group, Armond Morales, Rick Evans and returning members Paul Smith and David Will.
You can read more about the Imperials on their website here.
Here’s an audio video of “Let The Wind Blow.”
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