Herb Reed, the last surviving founding member of revered vocal group The Platters, passed away on Monday after a long illness.  He was 83.

After an impoverished upbringing in Kansas City, Missouri, Reed moved to Los Angeles, where he helped found The Platters in 1953.  After several lineup changes, the group began recording in 1955.  Over the next several years, they went on to score such classics  as "Only You," "The Great Pretender," "Twilight Time" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."  Reed sang bass and reportedly was the only member to contribute to nearly all of The Platters' hundreds of recordings.  In 1990, The Platters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Reed continued to tour with his own version of The Platters until recently.  He also fought a long legal battle over the rights to the group's name.  Those rights were awarded to him last year by a Nevada federal court.

Speaking about the lawsuit with his biographer earlier this year, Reed said, "It's not right to have someone steal your name…We were cheated back then, but that's how things were done then.  It's doubly wrong to face it again today.  It's theft, and I have to fight so that no other artist faces this."

Reed is survived by his son, Herbert Jr., and three grandchildren.