PopBopRocktilUDrop

From the Land of Band Box Records

Birds of a Feather….

October 19, 2019
craigr244

The Great “Bird” Groups….

… and some lesser known birds….

Image result for tweety birdImage result for big birdImage result for chilly willy

The “bird” groups predated the ‘official’ arrival of rock and roll – meaning mainstream acknowledgement of such an arrival.  They flourished beginning in the late 1940’s and garnered considerable followings from the black record-buying public.

The most hailed ‘bird’ groups were undoubtedly The Ravens, The Orioes, The Crows and The Penguins.

THE BEL-LARKS – RANSOM – 1963

(Syracuse, New York – Formed 1958 – Eric Simmons Jr., Robert Reese, Frederick Simmons and Robbert Baggett – Roselind Allen would join later )

Image result for the bel-larks

THE BLUE JAYS – CHECKER – 1953

(Oakwood Park, Chicago – Personnel unknown – See the “Doo-Wop Blog” for listing

THE BLUE JAYS – MILESTONE – 1961

(Los Angeles, California – Leon Peels, Van Earl Richardson, Alexander Manigo and Leonard Davidson – “Lover’s Island” would be their only charting record – reaching number 31 Hot 100 but failing to reach the R&B charts)

THE BLUE JAYS – LAURIE – 1959

(Unknown origin)

THE CARDINALS – ATLANTIC

(Baltimore, Maryland – Ernie Warren, Leon Hardy, Donald Johnson, Jack Aydelotte – Charted three times on the R&B Charts with “The Door Is Still Open” their highest charting record at number 4 in 1955)

THE CARDINALS – ROSE – 1963

(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Al Turner – Lynn Thomas – Reginald Grant – Oscar Drummond – Mitchell Robinson and Billy Davis – Recorded more prominently as “The Equadors”  – photo is the Equadors)

Image result for the equadors group

THE CROWS – RAMA – 1953

(Harlem, New York – Daniel Norton, Harold Major, Bill Davis, Gerald Hamilton and Mark Jackson – Had one R&B Chart Hit – the very popular “Gee” which reached number 2 R&B and number 14 on Pop Charts in 1954)

THE DEL-LARKS – EAST WEST – 1958

(Plainfield, New Jersey – formed around 1958: Sammy Campbell, Ronald Taylor, Jimmy Anderson, and James Jeff Jeffers – The Del-Larks did not have any charting recordings.)

THE DIXIE HUMMINGBIRDS – PEACOCK – 1957

(Greenville, South Carolina – A gospel group – I’ve included them here due to their influence on many vocal groups who would follow – They formed in 1928 – Original members James B. Davis, Barney Parks, Ira Tucker – They selected their name based on the hummingbird being “the only bird that could fly both backwards and forwards – since that was hour our career seemed to be going…”)

THE DRAKES – 1953

(Chicago, Illinois – Formed in 1953: Tom Daniels – Robert Anderson – William Anderson – Lincoln Mabins and Ira Anderson – They did not record as “The Drakes” but did as “The Dream Kings” on Checker – Dream Kings shown)

THE EAGLES – CITATION -1951

(Washington D.C. – Formed in the early 1950’s: Group included Flash Griner the lead singer – Releasing 3 singles in the early 1950’s none charted

THE FALCONS – REGENT – 1951

(This is a different group from the Falcons shown next which formed in 1955)

THE FALCONS – UNART – 1959

(Detroit, Michigan – Eddie Floyd, Mack Rice, Joe Stubbs, Willie Schofield – Wilson Pickett would come on later in 196)

THE FEATHERS – ALADDIN – 1954

(Los Angeles, California – Johnny Staton, Louis Staton, Johnny Harris, Don Harris and Mitchell Alexander – Johnny Staton shown below with a later group – “The Individuals” – The Feathers did not chart

Image result for R&B GROUP THE FEATHERS

THE FIVE HOLLYWOOD BLUE JAYS – RECORDED IN HOLLYWOOD – 1952

(Los Angeles, California – These guys were actually a group called “The Debonaires” – They had links to “The Flairs” as well as other west coast R&B groups – Two members were Cornell Gunter (Coasters) and Richard Berry (Crowns, Cadets, Flairs and many more)

Image result for cornell gunter

THE FLAMINGOS – CHANCE – 1953

(Chicago, Illinois – Formed in 1953: Nate Nelson, Zeke Carey, Jake Carey, Paul Wilson and Johnny Carter – The Flamingos charted R&B 9 times with “I Only Have Eyes For You” reaching number 3 R&B and number 11 Hot 100 – Seven of their songs reached the Hot 100)

THE HAWKS – IMPERIAL – 1954

(New Orleans, Louisiana – This group was put together by Dave Bartholomew – the trumpet player, and co-composer for Fats Domino – group included Allen “Fat Man” Matthews, Albert Veal, Buddy Morris, Willie Thrower and Joe Gaines – The group evolved out of another New Orleans group “The Harmonizing Four” – The Hawks did not find their way onto any of the national charts.)

(Photo from Marv Goldberg’s Site)

WILLIE HEADON & THE FIVE BIRDS – AUTHENTIC – 1956

(Don’t know much about Headon and these Birds – Headon was backed at one time by The Penguins)

THE LARKS – APOLLO – 1951

(Wilson, North Carolina – Formed in 1951: Eugene Mumford, Raymond Barnes, Thermon Ruth, Alden Burns, David McNeil – Charted twice R&B – with “Eyesight to the Blind being their biggest hit reaching number 5. – These are not the 1960’s  “Larks”)

THE LARKS – MONEY – 1964

(Los Angeles, California – This group was the trio of Don Julian, Ted Walters and Charles Morrison.  The “Jerk” charted number 7 Hot 100 and number 1 R&B – their only R&B hit and only appearance on the Hot 100.  Odd for a group to go number 1 and out!

THE MEADOWLARKS – DOOTO – 1955 (WITH DON JULIAN)

(Los Angeles, California – Leader Don Julian would later form “The Larks” of “The Jerk” fame from the 1960’s which are Posted here as well.  Though quite popular in in local markets, the Meadowlarks failed to place any songs on any national charts – Members of the Meadowlarks included Earl Jones and Ronald Barrrett).

THE ORIOLES – JUBILEE – 1952

(Baltimore, Maryland – They formed in 1948: Sonny Til, Alexander Sharp, George Nelson, Johnny Reed and Tommy Gaither – Placed 11 songs on the R&B Charts with three number one songs – “Crying in the Chapel was their biggest hit remaining at number 1 for 5 weeks R&B and going to number 11 Hot 100.)

THE OSPREYS – EAST WEST – 1958

(Harlem, New York – Robert Council – Maurice Williams – Jackson Thompson and John Miro – the label was an Atlantic subsidiary label formed in 1957 and featured another ‘bird’ group of sorts “The Del Larks”

The Ospreys

THE PENGUINS – DOOTONE – 1954

(Los Angeles, California – Formed in 1953: Cleveland Duncan, Dexter Tisby, Bruce Tate, Curtis Williams – Charted twice on the R&B charts with the monster hit “Earth Angel” going to number 1 R&B and number 8 Pop Charts)

THE QUAILS (THE FIVE QUAILS) – MERCURY – 1957

(Cleveland, Ohio – Art Kirkpatrick – James Williams – Billy Fulgrum – Woody Woodall and Billy Strawbridge)

THE RAVENS – NATIONAL – 1950

(New York City, New York – Formed in 1946: Jimmy Ricks, Warren Suttles, Leonard Puzey and Ollie Jones – They charted R&B 11 times  with 1952’s “Rock Me All Night Long” their biggest hit reaching number 4.  They did not enter the Hot 100 pop charts )

THE ROBINS – SAVOY – 1950

(San Francisco, California – Formed in 1945 one of the very earliest ‘bird’ groups: Bobby Nunn, Terrell Leonard, Billy Richard, and Roy Richard) – They would later become the highly successful Coasters – but as The Robins charted 3 times on the R&B charts with their monster hit “Double Crossing Blues” remaining at number 1 for five weeks!)

THE STARLINGS – DAWN – 1955

(New York City, New York- formed in 1951: Larry Gales, Stan Gilbert, Jackie Marshall, Johnny Johnson and Clyde Franklin)

Image result for THE STARLINGS R&B GROUP

THE SWALLOWS – KING – 1951

(Baltimore, Maryland – Lawrence Coxen, Irving Turner, Norris Mack, and Early Hurley – Placed two singles on the R&B Charts with “Beside You” their highest ranking song at number 8).

Image result for the swallows rb group

THE SWANS – RAINBOW – 1953

(Greenburg, New York – Formed in 1951: Ray Roberts – Donald Sledge – James Bradham and Charlie Drew)

THE SWANS – BALLAD – 1953

(St. Louis, Missouri – Leroy Boyer, Ernest Washington and Walter Harper)

The Swans (2)

THE SWANS – FORTUNE – 822

(Toledo, Ohio – Henry Goodwin – Tommy Jones – Earl Fontain – Byron Thomas)

THE SWANS – CAMEO – 1964

(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Jeanne Thomas, Catherine Nichols and Rosa Waters – this group backed The Sapphires on their recordings – The Swans released about a half dozen records  and continuing to their only chart appearance – the novelty “The Boy With The Beatle Hair” which dented the Hot 100 at number 85 with a short 4 week run – also recorded under the names “The Sweet Three”, “The Mellow Moods”, “The Dreamers” and “Honey Love and the Love Notes”)

THE WRENS – RAMA – 1955

(The Bronx, New York – Bobby Mansfield, George Magnezid, Francis Conception and Jimmy Archer – They – like so many others – were encouraged by the success of the Crows with their hit recording “Gee”)

 

One Comment

  1. Random thoughts:

    I’ve never seen a 78rpm Unart record before, and 1959 is very late for 78. although I’d heard that r&b 78s lasted longer than pop ones. I guess they didn’t want to spend the bucks on the “test pattern” design on both Unart and UA 45s of that time.

    Re: The Larks, there was another group that made the exquisitely gorgeous “It’s Unbelievable” on Sheryl in 1961, one of my all-time favorite group sounds. Marv Goldberg has a nice takeout on them: http://www.uncamarvy.com/Larks2/larks2.html.. Theirs is a long and winding story, complicated by the number of groups using the same name or a variant of it.

    The Robins were “for the birds” twice – their earliest recordings were as The 4 Bluebirds, according to the above-cited Marv Goldberg. Over the course of their career they had enough members to populate a small town!

    Another great post, Craig! Keep ’em up!

    Country Paul.

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