One of the most underrated talented R&B groups to come out of the soul
explosion during the mid
60's were, The Esquires. From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, brothers Gilbert
and Alvis Moorer along
with their sister Betty, formed the group, in 1957, while attending
North Division High School.
Various kids in their neighborhood would audition but soon drift in
and out of the group.
In 1965, 8 years later, The Esquires now consisted of Gilbert and
Alvis Moorer, Sam Pace,
and Shawn Taylor. Betty Moorer had dropped out. In 1966, the group saw
had little recording opportunities to get their feet wet, so they
decided to try their luck in Chicago.
The Esquires went to Curtis Mayfield who just formed his new label,' Windy C'. They decided to
help Curtis run the label, hoping to get a deal. Opportunity came
knocking when they ran into a
local producer named Bunky Sheppard who ran the Constellation label
that included such artists
as Gene Chandler, Nolan Chance etc; the group recorded one song for
"Things Won't Be The Same", in 1966.
The Esquires presented two demo songs that lead singer Gilbert Moorer
composed entitled, 'Listen To
Me', and 'Get On Up'. Bill Sheppard listened to both songs and felt
that ' Get On Up' had the potential
to become a hit but something was missing and had his old friend and
bass singer Millard Edwards
from their former doo-wop group, The Sheppards, to take a listen.
Millard solve the problem saying the
bass part was missing from the song and volunteered to sing bass on
the song. He later would join
Both 'Get On Up' and ' Listen To Me' was recorded on Bill Sheppard's
newly formed 'Bunky' label in
1967 and was distributed nationally on New York's legendary Scepter /
Wand label, home of such
distinguished artists as The Shirelles, Tommy Hunt, Chuck Jackson,
Maxine Brown, Dionne Warwick,
King Curtis, Isley Brothers, The Rocky Fellers, The Kingsmen, Roy
Head, Ronnie Millsap and B.J. Thomas.
With its flashy horns and machine gun conga rhythm opening, 'Get On
Up' b/w ' Listen To Me' became
one of the biggest dance records of the mid 60's Boogaloo era, hitting
No 3 on Billboard's R&B Singles
on Oct 7, 1967 and No 11 on the Pop Singles on Oct 21 and sold an
instant million copies!
The Esquires had another successful follow up hit entitled, 'And Get
Away', a clone to 'Get On Up'
in late 1967. The song hit No. 9 on R&B Singles on Jan 6, 1968 and No.
22 Pop on Dec 30, 1967.
Their LP 'Get On Up And Get Away' was released in 1968. The album
front cover has a very interesting
collage of pictures featuring the Esquires along with label mates,
Chuck Jackson and Maxine Brown.
This outstanding album features Alvis Moorer's rare and wonderful lead
on the 'Young Rascals'
spring-summer hit of 1967, "Groovin".
With great choreography and stage presence, The Esquires became the
most demanding group during
the1960's, appearing in such prestige places as, the Uptown in
Philadelphia, the Regal in Chicago,
the Howard in Washington, the Royal in Baltimore and the world famous
Apollo Theater in New York.
I caught their appearance at the Apollo in Sept of 1967. The show
featured, Martha & The Vandellas,
Jimmy Ruffin, The Van Dykes, The Fabulous Peps, and Jimmy Pelham.
The Esquires charted with their last hits featured on the Bunky label
with "You Say " (No 41 R&B Singles
March 30, 1968), "Why Can't I Stop" (No 48 R&B Singles June 15, 1968)
and the heart -drenched
"I Know I Can" b/w "How Could It Be", released July 1968.
Bunky Records began to falter, so the Esquires signed with its
distributor, Wand Records of
New York in November 1968. The label would release two singles, "
You've Got The Power"
(No 29 R&B Singles Dec 21, 1968) and " I Don't Know" b/w " Part Angel"
(No 37 R&B
April 5, 1969).
The Esquires left Wand Records and signed with Bunky Sheppard's new
B&G label and released
one cut entitled, "Ain't No Reason", backed with my favorite, "
Baba-Daba-Dop (Ain't Gonna Give
It Up)" in late 69'. The group signed momentarily with Capital Records
that same year and
waxed, "Reach Out", in 1970.
Millard Edwards left the group for the jeweler business, in 1970,
reuniting the group with Shawn
Taylor, who was replaced in 1967.
The Esquires signed on Lamarr Records, a small independent label in
Chicago operated by Burgess
and Walter Gardner and in early 1971, charted their first big hit
entitled, " Girls In The City" composed by the
late Tony Hester, (who becoming a successful songwriter for the
Dramatics in the 70's), backed with
"Ain't Gonna Give It Up (Baba-Dapa-Dop)", hit No 18 on the R&B
Singles charts on April 17, 1971.
The group would return to record one last charted hit with a remake of
their 1967 classic, "Get On Up"
re-titled, "Get On Up 76", adding a fake audience to create an
effect. Released on the Ju-Par label, the
song hit No 62 in late 1976, b/w "Dancing Disco".
The Esquires continued to perform throughout the 90's overseas in the
U.K. soul scene, with new members
added to keep their sound fresh and exciting.
The Esquires were a very innovative group that interjected street
corner falsetto doo-wop into world of
Soul music, during its heyday of the mid 1960's. They should be
honored for the wonderful contribution they
helped created in the history of music. Continue to support them, so
their history won't be forced to graze in
forgotten musical pastures of the past.
(Chancellor of Soul)
Materials should not used or altered without expressed permission of
Mike Boone (Chancellor of Soul).