Despite their failure to achieve the commercial success of rivals like the Drifters, the Flamingos, or the Clovers, the Harptones demand consideration in any serious discussion of the truly immortal acts of the doo wop era. Although none of their singles cracked the Top 40, efforts like "A Sunday Kind of Love," "Life Is But a Dream," and "Memories of You" remain classics of the genre, distinguished by their rich harmonies and sophisticated, jazz-inspired arrangements. The Harptones' origins date to 1951 and the grounds of Harlem's Wadleigh Junior High School, where classmates William Dempsey, Curtis Cherebin, and Freddy Taylor began harmonizing as the Skylarks. Following the additions of Eugene "Sonny" Cooke and a classmate remembered only by the nickname "Skillum," the fledgling group made its professional debut via the Apollo Theatre's famed Amateur Talent Contest, performing a rendition of "My Dear Dearest Darling" that ended in the audience literally booing them off the stage. After a series of lineup shuffles, the Skylarks welcomed William "Dicey" Galloway, who concurrently served as a member of another fledgling Harlem doo wop unit, the Winfield Brothers. In early 1953, alumni of both groups combined as the Harps. Comprising tenor Dempsey, baritone Galloway, lead tenor Willie Winfield, first tenor Claudie "Nicky" Clark, bass Billy Brown, and pianist/arranger Raoul Cita, the Harps returned to the Apollo in November 1953 and earned top honors with their soulful rendition of the Louis Prima composition "A Sunday Kind of Love." Even more significantly, at the end of the evening an MGM Records executive in the audience invited the group to audition at the label's 1650 Broadway studio.