Movin’ Through the Great Groups
Here’s a little ditty depicting the journey’s of some of the great artists from group-to-group and so on..
…had three hits on the R&B Charts (“Here I Stand” #19, “Easy Lovin'” #10 and “Please Send Someone to Love” #20) in ’58, ’60 and ’61. He composed the first of these and later in 1963 the Rip Chords (Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher) would take it to number 51 on the Hot 100. Wade would go silent for a time before joining up with a group called the Salty Peppers in the late 1960’s. The group recorded on Capitol Record and it would be with The Salty Peppers that Wade would be joined with singer/songwriter Maurice White.
White would take Flemons with him and establish “Earth, Wind and Fire”, a group that would soon include three Denverites, Philip Bailey and Larry Dunn, then adding Ron Woolfolk. All three attended Denver’s East High School. Flemons would depart the group in 1973. EW&F was also included a female singer, Jessica Cleaves, who was first with The “Hi Fi’s” before joining up “The Friends of Distinction”. The “Hi Fi’s” also included fellow “Friends” members Harry Elston, Floyd Butler and another future female star, Marilyn McCoo who went on with the hugely famous “5th Dimension”.
…was mentored by early rhythm and blues band leader, Johnny Otis (“Hand Jive”) and assigned to a vocal group by Johnny called “The Thrillers. The “Thrillers” would evolve into “The Royals” before morphing into “The Midnighters”. Wilson did not proceed on with “The Midnighters”. “The Royals” would record a song penned by Johnny Otis titled “Every Beat of My Heart”, a song which garnered no attention at all on the national charts, but would become a monster hit – the first hit – for “The Pips” featuring Gladys Knight, in 1961, riding the number one spot on the R&B Charts for five straight weeks and reaching number 6 on the Hot 100.
From “The Royals”, Jackie would go on to join an early version of “The Falcons” before moving on to join Billy Ward’s “Dominoes” replacing lead singer Clyde McPhatter.
The “Falcons” would later feature a future soul star, Wilson Pickett who came over from a group called “The Gospelaires”. Another member of the group was Joe Stubbs, who’s brother Levy would gain fame with Motown’s “Four Top”. Later on, Joe would become a member of another Motown act, “The Contours” and then “The Originals” for a short time before joining “100 Proof Aged in Soul” best remembered for their hit “Someone’s Been Sleeping My Bed” (#6 R&B/#8 Hot 100 – 1970).
Also Eddie Floyd of Stax records fame was a one-time “Falcon”. Joe Stubbs was the featured vocalist on “You’re So Fine” as well as their number 6 R&B hit “I Found a Love”. Wilson Pickett was a co-writer for “You’re So Fine”. Pickett would become acquainted with fellow Falcon Mack Rice which would prove beneficial to his musical career. Rice penned “Mustang Sally” for Pickett which resulted in a number 6 R&B hit (#23 on the Hot 100). Rice would compose scores of titles for R&B acts including “The Staple Singers”, Johnny Taylor, Inez Foxx and more.
“You’re So Fine” reached number 5 on the R&B Charts
The Great Clyde McPhatter
…would travel from Ward’s “Dominoes” to form and lead the first “Drifters” assemblage and continue to front them into the mid 1950’s. There would be many great vocalists pass through the Drifters including Bobby Moore and Rudy Lewis who overlapped during their stays with the popular group. The group was so popular that multiple line-ups would head out across the nation simultaneously to perform. In 1955, the entire line-up of Drifters was “fired” to be replaced by members of the R&B group “The Five Crowns”, which then included a young Ben Nelson, who would assume lead vocal duties for the Drifters as “Ben E. King”.
Another vocalist would emerge from “The Drifters”, Bobby Hendricks, who would go solo with two fun hits, “Itchy Twitchy Feeling” (#5 R&B & #25 Hot 100) in 1958 – and “Psycho” a crazy song which would his only other chart record at number 73 in 1960 on the Hot 100.
And Speaking of Joe Stubbs and The Contours…
….yet another Motown star, Dennis Edwards, would also become a member of “The Countours” having first been with the gospel group “The Mighty Clouds of Joy” and then the R&B group “Dennis Edwards & The Fireballs”. Dennis of course would join the mighty “Temptations” in 1967.
The Flamingos Enjoyed the Services of Tommy Hunt….
…in the late 1950’s before he would go solo recording three top 40 R&B hits. Johnny Carter was a later member of “The Flamingos” who went on to join “The Dells”. The Dells were originally called “The El-Rays”. Terry Johnson came to the Flamingos in 1956 replacing Carter. He came from “The Whispers”. The early Dells also included Chuck Barksdale who left to join Harvey Fuqua’s “Moonglows”
Group leader Harvey Fuqua brought in a young singer to the group Marvin Gay before he changed his last name spelling. Gaye came from a group called “The Marquees” who were first “The Crazy Sounds” managed by national famed DJ Alan Freed. Fuqua would change the group’s name to “The New Moonglows” in 1959. He later would sign on to the Motown Family production team.
And Bob and Earl Deserve a Short Mention..
….a group which featured Bobby Byrds and Earl Lee Nelson. Byrd came off big success in the 1950’s performing as “Bobby Day” and hitting it big with “Rock-in Robin” a number one R&B hit in 1958 (#2 on the Hot 100). Both Byrd and Nelson had been members of the California R&B group the “The Hollywood Flames” who hit it big with “Buzz, Buzz, Buzz” co-penned by Byrd.
Nelson would go out on his own in the mid 1960’s performing as “Jackie Lee” scoring with a dance number “The Duck” (#4/14) in 1965.