Fred Parris was in his late teens and on guard duty at a U.S. Army base in Philadelphia when he wrote the doo-wop standard "In the Still of the Night." He and his band, The Five Satins, recorded it in the basement of St. Bernadette Catholic Church in New Haven, Connecticut, when he and bandmate Al Denby were home on leave in February 1956. "That song changed my life," Parris told the New Haven Register in 2014. Parris died Jan. 13 after a brief illness, his music manager Pat Marafiote told The Associated Press. He was 85.
"In the Still of the Night" sold many millions of copies during periodic reissues and appearances on soundtracks and compilation records, and it charted three times on the Billboard Hot 100 — in 1956, 1960, and 1961. But the it made its first trip to No. 24 on the Hot 100 and No. 3 on the R&B charts, Parris had already returned to active duty in Japan, Billboard reports. "Another singer, Bill Baker, had to take his place at performances until he returned."
The Five Satins and Parris' other bands had minor hits, and Parris toured with a revolving cast of backing singers over several decades. But "In the Still of the Nigh," inspired by thoughts of his girlfriend, was his big hit. Rolling Stone ranked it No. 90 among the 500 greatest songs in 2010.
"Because we did it at the church, I think the song was blessed," Parris said of "In the Still of the Night" in an 2013 interview with WJCT in Jacksonville, Florida. "And so was I. It lasted a long, long time."