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Willie Winfield (1929–2021), singer with doo-wop group the Harptones

by Linnea Crowther

Willie Winfield was the lead vocalist with the 1950s doo-wop group the Harptones.

The Harptones

The Harptones were founded in 1953, showcasing Winfield’s clear, high singing voice. They performed widely and appeared in the 1956 movie, “Rockin’ the Blues.” Though they didn’t have major mainstream success, the Harptones were known for songs including “A Sunday Kind of Love,” “What Will I Tell My Heart,” and “Why Should I Love You?” Their recording of “Life Is But a Dream” became known to a new audience when it was featured in the 1990 film “GoodFellas.” Winfield remained with the Harptones through decades of personnel changes until his retirement in 2019, at age 89.

Notable quote

“Singing the songs for me feels fresh every time. It’s the way people respond. All of a sudden, I forget my age. I lose all sense of everything except the song. I go back to the first time we recorded, when we had no idea what would happen.” —from a 1985 interview for the Daily News

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Tributes to Willie Winfield

Full obituary: The New York Times

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