Ernie Warren died on July 30th 2007 aged 78. He was the lead singer of Atlantic-signed vocal group the Cardinals who recorded a dozen singles for the label between 1951 and 1957 including “Shouldn’t I Know”, “The Door Is Still Open”, “I’ll Always Love You” and “Wheel Of Fortune”.
The group, formed in Baltimore in 1946, had some moderate commercial success, but were always overshadowed by the Clovers. Their cause wasn’t helped when Warren was drafted into the US army in 1952. Although he was replaced, the group’s recording career was sporadic after that. It seemed that Atlantic wasn’t particularly happy with his replacement, and would rather wait on Warren’s discharge. This happened in the spring of 1954, but by then the Cardinals’ close harmony ballads were beginning to seem a little anachronistic in the new rock ‘n’ roll era. Ironically, their 1955 recording of Chuck Willis’ “The Door Is Still Open” was the group’s biggest hit. It was also their last.
After parting with Atlantic in 1957, Warren led a succession of line-ups of the Cardinals until the mid sixties, but their recording career was over. The Cardinals may not have been as well known as some of their contemporaries, but they were one of the best groups of the early doo-wop era.