Jimmy Beaumont, then an 18 year old from Pittsburgh’s Knoxville neighborhood, took some lyrics written by his friend Joe Rock, and set them to music in 1958. He had no idea that what he was creating would become to many music historians the iconic ballad of that era.
"I really hadn’t gone through any heartbreak at that time, but it was Joe’s lyrics that brought it out," Beaumont told 90.5 WESA's Essential Pittsburgh in 2016.
Beaumont died in his sleep Saturday at his home in McKeesport, according to family. He was 76.
The music he wrote was a reflection of what he was listening to -- jazz groups like the Four Freshmen and R&B groups like the Platters. His group, managed by Joe Rock, was dubbed The Skyliners.
"We kind of formed our style by putting those groups together," Beaumont said.
That style took them to the top of the charts. The song was released in December 1958 but hit No. 1 on the Cashbox R&B chart and No. 3 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1959. It was later covered by Barbra Streisand, Patti LaBelle, Art Garfunkel, Don McLean and even Guns N' Roses.
The Skyliners had two lesser hits, "This I Swear" and "Pennies from Heaven," before disbanding in 1963. It regrouped and scored a Top 100 hit in 1975 with "Where Have They Gone." That gave the group, with Beaumont as the only original member, enough traction to keep performing through 2017.
He is survived by his wife, two daughters and five grandchildren. The Jaycox-Jaworski Funeral Home in McKeesport is handling arrangements. Beaumont's funeral is Friday at Corpus Christi Parish in McKeesport.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.