Over the years, many R&B vocal groups have come and gone. Sometimes,
many separate even after their first string of hits. Or, could be
personality differences, among themselves, or for just, silly
egotistical reasons. There's is one group that stood the test of time,
even though many hardships.
Sylvia & Joe Robinson of All Platinum Records in Englewood, New
Jersey, would purchase all of the Chess masters, for nearly a million
dollars and 3 years later, release a 3 record set compilation LP entitled,
"Memories Of Pillow Talk", in 1978. It was advertised on
television, and sold nearly a half million copies!
Donnie Elbert would sadly enter the kingdom of soul heaven on January 31,
1989, after massive stroke. He will always remain a true rarity in R&B
music history but shouldn't be forgotten, of the multi-talents of his
great music that he left for us to appreciate and enjoy.
While writing the lyrics, another inspiration came to mind of an
classic Curtis Mayfield
1961 composition hit, "Gypsy Woman". In the song, a dancer would
hypnotized everyone with her gyrations around the campfire, including
Curtis. Don would later add
horns arranged by legendary Motown producer, David Van DePitte, who in 1971, produced Marvin Gaye's landmark LP,
"What's Going On".
a ticket on a funky train ride and travel to the hippest place in America, get on board ! You're about to
experience a world where there's plenty of great music and dancing.
Brothers and Sisters, let's climb aboard the
If you ever wanted purchase
Curtis questions our weakness of lust and lack of respect for another
man's woman. It's a tool he uses again in the subconscious in all us
as humans with the thought of temptation running though our minds the
minute we think a
good thing comes along.
Otis Redding was one of the most dominant entertainers in the history
His legacy still continues to shine brightly in hearts of many R&B
1967 was Otis' last triumph to fame and fortune until his untimely
death on Dec 10.
Linda Jones was born on January 14, 1944. Her upbringing comes from
gospel singers named, the Jones Singers. From a toddler to her early
teens, Linda had a very unique powerful vocal range. Battling diabetes
as a child, nothing would stop her from obtaining her lifetime dreams
of becoming a famous singer. At the age of 19, Linda signed with Cub
Records (a subsidiary of MGM) and record Jackie Wilson's 1959 hit 'Lonely
Teardrops' backed with 'Cancel the Celebration' in 1963 under the
name, Linda Lane. The song would sink without a trace.
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
that Milwaukee had little recording opportunities to get their feet
wet, so they decided to try their luck in Chicago.
Chubby's version of the
Twist was so close to Hank Ballard's version,
it even fooled Hank!
One day, while swimming in a pool in Miami, Hank heard the song on the
radio and was very overjoyed that he was receiving airplay on white
After the success of Chubby Checker's recording of the Twist, it
became the most
successful dance in the country. Everybody was twisting and it
introduced a new
concept in the way we danced called, 'apart dancing', where both
enjoy dancing apart instead of touching each other.
other short dance craze in the
The Peppermint Lounge became the spot in New York for fun and
recreation. Sam Cooke was inspired to write a song about the famous
club entitled, 'Twistin' The Night Away'. He was at home one morning
watching the 'Today' show on television. The show featured a segment
on the Peppermint Lounge, showing the socialites doing the Twist and
having a good time.
Chubby Checker's forth LP, 'Your Twist Party', released in
hit top ten on both the R&B and Pop Album charts. Variety trade
paper reporter, Joe Cohen, wrote liner notes for the LP, front
and back cover. The dance craze became so popular with
the older crowds, jazz great Count Basie got into the act with his
version of the 'Basie Twist' on Roulette records. Frank Sinatra,
who never really cared for rock and roll, couldn't ignore the hype
by recording a version of, 'Everybody's Twistin'.
In early 1960, the Drells became a quartet with the line up of Billy
Butler (no relation to the singer Jerry Butler), James Wise, and
Joe Cross. Six years later in 1966, they met DeeJay / Record
entrepreneur and mailman, Skipper Lee Frazier at a talent show
at a club in Le Porte, Texas called Seven Beach.
Born in 1944, Cliff
became interested in music during his years
school. He joined a local singing group
called the Delrays
and shortly afterwards, moved to Philadelphia and lived in a section
called, Norristown. He stayed with some friends and formed a group
called Cliff Nobles & Co. The group signed with J-V Records
and recorded, 'Too
Fond of You' b/w 'My Love Is
Getting Stronger'. The
song flop, so they signed with
Atlantic records and
recorded a newer version of
'Too Fond of You'
b/w 'My Love Is Getting Stronger'.
Out of the Windy City of
Chicago, The Impressions would change
course of vocal history by combining sweet tantalizing harmony with a
call and response seed planted from the roots of gospel music. A
would inject into the world of R&B listeners. This transplant would
seep into one listener, Rondalis Tandy from Forth Worth, Texas.
1973 thru 1976 Betty racked up a total of 10
with 'It's Hard To Stop (Doing Something When It's Good To You) (No
11 R&B)… 'Let Me Be Your Lovemaker' (my personal favorite) (No 10
'It's Bad For Me To See You' (No 66 R&B)...'Secretary'
(No 12 R&B)… 'Shoorah!
Shoorah' written by legendary singer/ songwriter /producer Allen
Toussaint with a classic B-side 'Tonight Is The Night' (No28
R&B)...the dance classic 'Where Is The Love' (No 15
R&B)...'Ooola La' (No 28 R&B)... 'Slip And Do It' (No 21 R&B)
and 'If I Ever Do It' (No
would propel to stardom with her masterpiece composition
'Make Me Yours' b/w 'I Will Not Cry'. The session took place on
Friday, February 3, 1967 at Audio Arts Studios. The musicians were
James Carmichael (future producer for the Commodores) on piano,
Abraham Mills on drums, Bob West (writer for the Jackson 5 million
seller 1970 hit 'I'll Be There') on bass, legendary artist Roy Ayers
on vibes along with Alton Hammond and Gary Coleman, Charles
Wright (of the Soul Runners and leader of the Watts 103rd St Rhythm
Band) and Les Buie on guitar.
While appearing at a concert in D.C. Billy was discovered by Bo
and invited him to join his band. He spent a few years on
the road with Bo developing his talents on the organ, bass and
drums. He got an opportunity to record for Chess Records because of
his association with Diddley and cut his first single for the label
(Pt's 1 & 2)' in 1956, featuring Bo on
Bobby served as the
lead vocalist and producer, Tommy Chong and
Henderson as lead guitarists, Eddie Henderson on bass, Robbie King
on keyboards, and Ted Lewis on drums. The group traveled parts of
the West Coast until their return back to British Columbia. Tommy
Chong's family leased a parlor in Vancouver named the Elegant Parlor
and they settled as the club's house band.
kids demonstrating the boogaloo dance at Herb 'The Kool Gent' Kent (WVON-AM)
record hop, the duo recorded a single entitled,
b/w ‘Boomerang' on the ABC-Paramount label. In the spring of 1965,
the song charted No. 11 on Billboard's R&B singles, the week ending
June 5, 1965.
On Wednesday, May 12, 1965 'In The
Midnight Hour' was cut at the Stax studios in Memphis, featuring 3
members of Booker T. & the MG's (the late Al Jackson Jr. on drums,
Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn on bass and Steve Cropper on guitar). Other
personnel include, The Memphis Horns (Wayne Jackson on trumpet, the
late Charles 'Packy' Axton and Andrew Love on tenor sax, Floyd
Newman on baritone sax and piano player
In 1965, Dyke sang and played bass with the O'Jays road band,
the Blazers. The group was left stranded in Phoenix, Arizona as the
O'Jays couldn't afford to bring them back to Buffalo. In order to
get home, the Blazers decided to raise money by working in various
clubs in the city. Dyke became lead singer therefore changing
the roster to Dyke & The Blazers.
Dee Dee Warwick learned the song from a demo
though it’s originals composers,
Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Dionne recorded the song and sold a
million (No. 5 R&B. No. 15 Pop) in the spring of 1967 while Dee
Dee’s version remained in the can for a few years. Dee Dee said that
Dionne didn't even considered doing the song before her and forgets
to mention her version provided her with a great demo. Dionne's was
the 42nd version recorded.
Sweat' was a reworked version of a slow blues tune called 'Don't
Care' from a 1962 LP entitled, 'James Brown and the Famous Flames
Tour The U.S.A.' The horn lines were dubbed from Miles Davis' classic recording of
'So What' from his masterpiece LP 'Kind Of
Blue'. The album featured such jazz greats as John Coltrane, Bill
Evans and Julian 'Cannonball' Adderley.
Released Friday March 10,
'I Never Loved A Man
The Way I Loved You' LP (charted No. 1 R&B LP No. 2 Pop April 29).
It remained on the album charts for an astonishing 49 weeks! The
self-titled single 'I Never Loved A Man' debuted at the (No 1
position on the R&B singles chart March 25 1967). The flipside
'Do Right Woman-Do Right Man' hit (No. 37 R&B April 17).
In May 1967, Edwin Hawkins, born 1943
California and his associate Betty Watson, organized a 46 piece gospel choir to represent their church
in Oakland, 'The Ephesian Church of God in Christ'. Edwin
needed to raise funds for a trip to sing at a convention given at the National Youth Congress, in Cleveland.
The choir recorded an LP of 8 songs including the 18th century fiery
gospel composition, 'Oh Happy Day' in the basement of the Berkeley
Church of Christ in San Francisco. Recorded on a old two-track ampex
tape machine, the album entitled 'Let Us Go Into The House Of
The Lord' went on to sell 600 copies.
Born on June
13, 1942 in Coahoma County, Mississippi near Clarksdale.
During his infancy years, James' parents brought the family to
Memphis, Tenn. where his musical background began in church. His
family formed a gospel group called the Southern Wonders Juniors
when James was 9 years of age. As an adult, he gained most of
his experience on the road, as a member of the Sunset
Travelers and the Harmony Echoes, while working as a laborer and
supporting a family. Through his travels, James met
singer/songwriter, Roosevelt Jamison in 1962. Jamison, a member
of the Redemption Harmonizers, developed a friendship with James
through encounters at various gospel revivals.
sounds of Brenda & the Tabulations evolved around the
summer of 1966 when Maurice Coates and
worked at a children's playground in downtown
Philadelphia. Maurice and Brenda sang
together for a
show they put together for the children.
With Brenda as
lead singer, Maurice along with guitarist
and James Rucker (who also worked at The 2nd
and Lehigh playground), together they formed Brenda & the
Watson recut the influential Bo Diddley uncharted classic
'Gangster Of Love' on Tuesday, May 14, 1963. Singer/
songwriter Steve Miller would record the tune in 1968 and Watson
would reprise it during his hot streak in the mid 70’s. He cut
single in 1964 on the Highland label entitled, 'Oh So Fine' b/w
'Wait A Minute Baby'.
In a land called 'soulsville' there
thousands of songs composed and sung by singers, songwriters
and producers where they receive many accolades and praises
through liner notes written on
the back of album covers or CD's, by music critics or famous
With a stroke of pen, Curtis composed a great
double sided single 'That’s
What Mama Say' (answer song to Jan Bradley's 62' smash
'Mama Didn't Lie') and a lovely ballad entitled, 'What Would You Do'. While the song received airplay in the east coast region, Walter's next single
'It's All Over'
(penned by Mayfield) b/w 'Lee Cross' (originally recorded by Aretha
Franklin on Columbia and written by Ted White, Aretha's ex-husband),
placed him at the No.10 position on Cashbox's R&B Top 50 chart, the week ending, Sat Nov 21, 1964. Billboard deleted the
R&B charts from the magazine, from Nov 21, 1963 til Jan 30,
1965. A self-titled LP 'It's All Over was released in 1965.
Around this time she met two New
York songwriters, Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson. The two
known in the music industry as Nick & Val and recorded their
first release on Glover entitled, ‘I'll Find You’ and worked
as staff writers on Florence Greenberg’s Scepter/ Wand label
located on 254 W 54th St. The pair invited Joshie to join as
a writer. Together the dynamic trio penned such great
classics as ‘The Real Thing’ by Tina Britt (No.20 R&B June
19, 1965) on Eastern. ‘The Shoe Won't Fit’ and ‘Too Hot Too
Hold for Betty Everett on Vee Jay. They also wrote material
for Chuck Jackson, Maxine Brown, the Shirelles, Doris Troy,
Mitty Collier etc;
Atlantic Records teamed the
Spinners with Jimmy Roach who was a former songwriter/ producer
atMotown. Jimmy cut 4 sides with the quintet including ‘(Oh
Lord) I Wish I Could Sleep’ in January 72’. The session didn't
fair to well with the promotion department and was terminated.
Vice-president Henry Allen called songwriter /producer Thom Bell
and offered him a choice of any artist
on Atlantic’s roster sheet to work with. Bell saw on the
bottom of the list the word ‘spinn’ and asked Allen if it was
the Spinners (Thom’s favorite group). Henry confirmed it was
them and Bell agreed to produce them.
Berry Gordy’s subsidiary Soul label (intended for blues
with ‘Devil With The Blue Dress On’ in March 1964. Although
it never charted for Long, it became a huge hit for Mitch
Ryder & The Detroit Wheels in October 1966. ‘Out To Get You’
b/w ‘ It’s Crying Shame’ was Shorty’s second uncharted single
in August 1964. Shorty is featured on harmonica on this early
Carla issued 3 singles on Deon Jackson in 1966, ‘Love Takes A Long
Time Growing’ b/w ‘ Hush Little Baby’, ‘ I Can't Do Without You’ b/w
‘ That’s What You Do To Me’, and ‘When Your Love Has Gone’ b/w
‘ Hard To Get A Thing Called Love’. The classic ‘Ooo Baby’ b/w ‘All
On A Sunny Day’ hit
(No. 28 R&B Dec 30, 1967) while ‘You Gotta Love’ b/w 'You'll
Wake Up Wiser Baby’ his last Carla release, failed to chart. The
late Bert Berns signed Deon to his Shout label in 1969 and produced
Jackson’s final single, ‘I'll Always Love You’ b/w ‘Life Can Be That
While Al Green was on tour in England,
Willie Mitchell and Al Jackson Jr, recorded a demo featuring
only piano and drums. Mitchell envisioned Al Green's vocals
and music in a lower register, for a crossover appeal. When
Green returned from the tour, Willie gave him the demo and
asked him ‘do you hear anything?' Al said 'give me 15
minutes’, composing the lyrics and christening the title
'Let's Stay Together', a two folded story based on a broken
love affair whether good or bad desperately working its way
into a forever lasting relationship, guessing his on and off
relationship with Laura Lee.
In May 1967, Edwin Hawkins,
born 1943 in Oakland, California and his associate Betty
Watson, organized a 46 piece gospel choir to represent their
church in Oakland, ‘The Ephesian Church of God in
Christ’. Edwin needed to raise funds for a trip to sing at a
convention given at the National Youth Congress, in
Cleveland. The choir recorded an LP of 8 songs including the
18th century fiery gospel composition, ‘Oh Happy Day’ in the
basement of the Berkeley Church of Christ in San Francisco.
Recorded on a old two-track ampex tape machine, the album
entitled ‘Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord’ went on
to sell 600 copies.
on April 24, 1933 in Providence, Rhode Island, Freddie began
singing at the age of 12, in his grandmother's gospel group,
'Sally Jones & The Gospel Keyes' while they toured England. At
15, Scott attended Cooper High School in New York City, then
pursued a career in medicine in Augusta, Ga. as a premed. With
a change of heart, Freddie decided to give up medicine and
resume his singing career with the Swanee Quintet Juniors. He
was also a member of The Bill Johnson Band and The Shytone 5