Walter Smith led the Cabrini-Green–based vocal harmony group the Admirations while in middle school, recording two 45s for the Leaner family's One-Derful! label in 1967. After transferring to Tilden High, Smith formed a new group with classmates the Donaldson brothers—Brad, Keith, and David—and Cliff Frazier, who had been performing as The Four Gents. Incorporating the Four Gents as his back up band, Walter & The Admirations went on a talent-show tear. Manager Ted Daniels then obtained a one-off contract with Leo Austell and Hillary Johnson's La-Cindy label. Daniels' La-Cindy connection, as well as the name of the in-house studio where "Life Of Tears" b/w "Man Oh Man (What Have I Done)" was cut, remains unknown. Frazier co-wrote both songs with guitarist Phil Davis, though a typo credited the single to the "Admeration's." Following graduation, all five members had their draft cards pulled. Taking on military-inspired moniker The Green Berets, the group ended up as part of a package deal Andre Williams sold to the Los Angeles-based Uni label in 1970.