The Platters formed in Los Angeles in 1953 and were initially managed by Ralph Bass. The group had a contract with Federal Records but had found little success before meeting music entrepreneur and songwriter Buck Ram. Ram made some changes to the lineup, most notably the addition of lead vocalist Tony Williams and female vocalist Zola Taylor. Under Ram's guidance, the Platters recorded seven singles for Federal in the R&B/gospel style, scoring a few minor regional hits on the West Coast. One song recorded during their Federal tenure, Only You (And You Alone), originally written by Ram for the Ink Spots was deemed unreleasable by the label.
Despite their lack of chart success, the Platters were a profitable touring group--successful enough that The Penguins, coming off their #2 Earth Angel single, asked Ram to manage them as well. With the Penguins in hand, Ram was able to parlay Mercury Records' interest into a 2-for-1 deal. To sign the Penguins, Ram insisted, Mercury also had to take the Platters. Ironically, the Penguins would never have a hit for the label.
What set The Platters apart from other groups of the era was that Ram had the group incorporate. Each member received equal shares of stock, full royalties and their social security was paid thus insuring their future financial security.