Cleveland doo wop group the Spartans formed in 1950. According to Marv Goldberg's profile in the March 1999 issue of Discoveries, lead Richard Howard, his tenor brother Ronald, first tenor Curtis Hafley, baritone Paul Mahaly, and bass Herb Hinton were childhood friends who began harmonizing on the grounds of the Carver Park Projects their respective families all called home. Originally dubbed the Mellow-Larks, the quintet often played local clubs, churches, and benefits in the company of pianist/arranger Lamar Gaines. In due time, they captured the attention of manager Al Rosen, who instituted the name change on grounds that the Mellow-Larks moniker was too similar to other, better-known acts.
Soon after, Hinton left the Spartans lineup to join the Renaults, prompting Mahaly to move to bass. Hinton nevertheless returned long enough to cut the group's debut single, "Lost," essentially a poem written by Rosen's business partner, Perry Stevens, set to music. Issued in the spring of 1954 on the tiny New York City label Capri, "Lost" emerged as a pet favorite of the influential Cleveland DJ Alan Freed, but despite success in other regional pockets including parts of Pennsylvania and Texas, the record's momentum failed to translate nationally. Its commercial failure, combined with the difficulty of finding a long-term replacement for Hinton, ultimately spelled the Spartans' demise. In the fall of 1955, Ronald Howard and Curtis Hafley both enlisted with the U.S. Air Force, although the group briefly reunited when they exited the military four years later. ~ Jason Ankeny~ Rovi