- Johnny Lee
- Jimmy Weston
- Nat McCune
- Willie Ephraim
- Roosevelt Mays
- 1991: One Summer Night
- 1996: The Best of the Danleers: The Mercury Years
Dante had promised "Tracy"'s songwriters, Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, that if the song was a hit he would record an entire Cuff Links album and when it charted, Vance and Pockriss quickly delved through their catalogue to produce more songs. Dante said: "It was the quickest album I'd ever done. I think I did the entire background vocals and leads in a day and a half – for the entire album. I remember doing at least four or five songs in one day." To speed the project, Vance and Pockriss hired novice arranger Rupert Holmes to work on the album, which including the second hit, "When Julie Comes Around", which peaked at No. 41 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart.
As the album was being completed, Vance and Pockriss created a seven-member touring band, comprising Pat Rizzo (saxophone), Rich Dimino (keyboards), Bob Gill (trumpet/flugelhorn/flute), Dave Lavender (guitar), Andrew "Junior" Denno (bass), Joe Cord (vocals) and Danny Valentine (drums).
Dante opted not to tour with the group, having accepted a solo album recording contract by Archies creator Don Kirshner that excluded any more outside work. When he called Vance to obtain his royalties for the first album, Vance refused to pay up unless Dante recorded a second album. The dispute was settled only after a personal confrontation at Vance's office and Vance erased Dante's vocals from his final song, "Run Sally Run" and replaced them with Cord's. It was the last Cuff Links single to chart, reaching No. 76 in April 1970.
Cord's vocals appeared on only a few tracks on the second Cuff Links album, The Cuff Links, with most songs featuring Holmes.
The Cuff Links name was later revived for unsuccessful singles on the Atco and Roulette labels.In 1999 singer-songwriter Michael "Valentine" Ubriaco obtained the touring rights to the Cuff Links name and revived the group for live performances. That band includes original guitarist Dave Lavender and still tours.
"Tracy" / "All the Young Women" / "Heather" / "Early in the Morning" / "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" / "Lay a Little Love On Me" / "When Julie Comes Around" / "I Remember" / "Sweet Caroline" / "Where Did You Go?" / "Sally Ann (You're Such a Pretty Baby)"
"Robin's World" / "Thank You Pretty Baby" / "Jennifer Tomkins" / "Down in Louisiana" / "Mister Big (Oh What a Beautiful Day)" / "The Kiss" / "Foundation of Love" / "Bobbie" / "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" / "Run Sally Run" / "Afraid of Tomorrow"
Their first hit was 1961's "There's No Other (Like My Baby)" (see 1961 in music). Originally the B-side to "Oh Yeah, Maybe Baby" (featuring Wright on lead), the wistful gospel-pop ballad (co-written by Spector and Leroy Bates, with Barbara Alston on vocals) reached number 20 in the Billboard chart, registering as an auspicious debut for Spector's Phillies label.
Brill Building songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's "Uptown" gave the girls their second radio hit. Ethnically flavoured with flamenco guitar and castanets, the more uptempo "Uptown" featured Alston once again emoting convincingly over a boy, though this time with class issues woven into the story. After the success of "Uptown", a pregnant Girard was replaced by Dolores "LaLa" Brooks.
The touchy subject matter of the next single — 1962's "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" (written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin and sung by Alston) — resulted in limited airplay, never reaching Billboard's Hot 100. The track enjoys a cult following.Soon after "He Hit Me" flopped, Phil Spector began recording singer Darlene Love and her backing group The Blossoms under the name "The Crystals". Legend has it that the real Crystals were not able to travel from New York to Los Angeles fast enough to suit the LA-based Spector, who wanted to quickly record writer Gene Pitney's "He's a Rebel" before anyone else could release a version. The Crystals were unavailable, but Love and the Blossoms were also based in L.A., so Spector recorded and released their version under The Crystals' banner. (Other sources claim that Spector's haste in recording the track was simply because he was enthusastic about the song, and that he was unaware of any competing versions—despite the fact that Vikki Carr
was recording "He's a Rebel" nearly simultaneously with Spector.)
The song ("He's a Rebel") had originally been offered to The Shirelles, who turned it down because of the anti-establishment lyrics. It marked a shift in girl group thematic material, where the singer loves a "bad boy", a theme that would be amplified by later groups (especially The Shangri-Las' "Leader of the Pack").
"He's a Rebel" is perhaps the Crystals' best-remembered song, and one of the most enduring of the girl group genre. It was also their only US #1 hit. Their follow-up single, "He's Sure the Boy I Love", in actuality also featured Love and The Blossoms. It reached #11 on the Billboard chart, and features a classic spoken intro by Darlene Love.
The next single credited to The Crystals is one of the rarest—and also possibly the strangest—in rock music history. Reports vary as to the actual motivation behind the recording, but most agree that Phil Spector was looking for a way to annoy former business partner Lester Sill. What he came up with was a nearly six-minute song called "Let's Dance The Screw - Part I", which would have been unplayable on 1963 radio. The record featured simple instrumentation (very much unlike Spector's famous Wall of Sound production style), repetitive lyrics, and Spector himself intoning the lyric "Dance The Screw" numerous times in a deadpan monotone. (The B-side, Part II, was more of the same but played much more slowly.) The Crystals sang the song's repetitive verses, though it is unclear if these singers were the 'real' Crystals or The Blossoms. Incidentally, some accounts mention that Spector's lawyer is actually the man intoning "Dance The Screw."The recording was never released commercially as a single, and only a few copies are known to exist (all marked "D.J. COPY - NOT FOR SALE"). The record was apparently only created to be a bizarre sort of joke at Sill's expense, who was soon to leave the Philles label, as a single copy was specially delivered to him in early 1963. Both parts of the song have since been released on CD.
Though it is unclear as to the level of their participation in "Let's Dance The Screw", the 'real' Crystals definitely began recording again under their own name in 1963. However, Thomas had departed to get married, only to join another mildly successful group, The Butterflys, along with another original Crystal, Myrna Girard. This reduced the group to a quartet with Barbara Alston on lead. Alston, known for her shyness and stage fright, was never comfortable with being out front, stepped down from the lead spot giving it to Brooks. According to Brooks, she had been doing Alston's leads in their live shows for a while.
After "Let's Dance The Screw", the group's next release was the classic "Da Doo Ron Ron". According to Darlene Love, the track was originally recorded by The Blossoms, with Love on lead vocal. Prior to release, Spector erased Love's lead vocal and replaced it with a vocal by LaLa Brooks, although he kept the Blossoms' backing vocals in place. Cher also featured on backing vocals. Allegedly, Spector erased Love's lead vocal after she had asked for a contract instead of simply receiving session fees. The song was a top 10 hit in both the US and the UK, as was the follow-up single "Then He Kissed Me", the first Crystals single since "He Hit Me" to feature all members of the Crystals as a definite group.Despite the steady flow of hit singles, tensions between Spector and the Crystals mounted. Already unhappy with having been replaced by Love and the Blossoms on two singles, The Crystals were even more upset when in 1964, Spector began focusing much of his time on his other girl group The Ronettes. As well, there were disputes about royalties, with The Crystals feeling that Spector was withholding royalty money that was owed to them.
Two failed Crystals singles followed before the band left Spector's Philles RecordsUnited Artists Records later in 1964. "Little Boy", which reached #92, was a Wall Of Sound production that was layered multiple times, which meant that the vocals were hard to distinguish from the music. "All Grown Up,", their final Philles single, (of which two versions exist) only reached #98. for
1964 also saw the departure of Wright who was replaced by Frances Collins, a dancer who they had met while touring; toward the end of that year Alston departed leaving the group a trio. As a trio, they recorded two singles for United Artists, "My Place" and "You Can't Tie a Good Girl Down". One more single was released by Barbara, Dee Dee and Mary on the tiny Michelle Records in 1967 ("Ring-a-Ting-a-Ling") and they disbanded in 1967 (see 1967 in music). They reunited in 1971 (see 1971 in music) and still perform today. Kenniebrew is the only original Crystal who remained active throughout their touring from the seventies to the present. Dee Dee carries on The Crystals legacy by performing with Patricia Pritchett-Lewis (Member since 2005) and Melissa MelSoulTree Antoinette (Member since 2002).
Discography standard albums
9 of the 12 tracks on "He's A Rebel" had also appeared on "Twist Uptown"
Discography compilations albums
They were discovered at Apollo Theater's Wednesday night talent show by talent agent Cliff Martinez, and brought to independent producer George Goldner who had just set up tiny new indepent Rama Records label. The Crows were the first group signed and the first to record. The first songs they recorded were as back-up to singer and tenor Watkins. The song "Gee" was the third song recorded during their first recording session, on February 10, 1953. It was put together in a few minutes by group member, William Davis, with Viola Watkins also being credited as co-writer.
The song was first released as the B-side of a ballad, "I Love You So". However, radio stations began turning it over and playing "Gee", first in Philadelphia and later in New York and Los Angeles. By January 1954 it had sold 100,000 copies, and by April entered the national R&B and pop charts, rising to # 2 R&B and # 14 pop. The song was a huge hit a year after it was recorded.The Crows were a one-hit wonder. While "Gee" was on the charts, the record company released a number of other singles by the group, including "Heartbreaker", "Baby", and "Miss You", but none were successful. Their failures and the inability to perform regularly to support their recordings led to the breakup of the group a few months after "Gee" dropped off the Hit Parade. They maintained the original line up for the entire career of the group, with no hope for a reunion following the deaths of Gerald Hamilton in the 1960s, and Daniel Norton in 1972.
The band was founded by J. T. Carter and included Talmoudge Gough, Harold Torres, and Patricia Van Dross (older sister of R&B great Luther Vandross). Carter selected vocalist Johnny Mastrangelo (later just Johnny Maestro) to perform as lead vocalist for the group. Maestro's vocal style on the group's recordings became instantly recogizable and a juke box favorite of the national teen audiences. Maestro's quality vocals, great song selections, and recordings with dance-easy beats made the winning combination for charted hits. The group had several Top 40 hits in the 1950s on Coed Records, including "Sixteen Candles," "A Year Ago Tonight," "Trouble in Paradise," "Six Nights a Week," "Step By Step," and "The Angels Listened In". They also charted with "Sweetest One" (Joyce label) and "Guilty" (Selma label). The Crests appeared and performed several times on national teen dance television shows in the late 1950s.
Maestro left for a solo career in 1960. He would later join The Del Satins, which would become Brooklyn Bridge. They had a Top 40 hit with "The Worst That Could Happen" in 1968. His place was taken by new lead James Ancrum. The group recorded a new single, "Little Miracles." It was the first single not to chart in the top 100. Gough quit the group after the single, and was replaced by Gary Lewis (not the same as Gary Lewis & the Playboys). The group failed to find success throughout the decade.
Van Dross and Torres would also be gone by the late 1960s. The group continued as a trio of Carter, Ancrum, and Lewis. This lineup continued until 1978, when the group split. Carter went on to sing with Charlie Thomas' Drifters.
Carter then reformed the group in 1980. He auditioned over 200 singers, finally settling on lead Bill Damon, Greg Sereck, and Dennis Ray and New York drummer Jon Ihle. Carter continued the group well into the 1990s. He sold the trademarks to the Crests name to Tommy Mara in the late 1990s. Mara was Carter's lead vocalist at the time, and now continues the group without Carter. Carter now performs as part of the three person group Starz. Lewis is now singing with The Cadillacs.
The 1984 John Hughes teen movie, Sixteen Candles, took its title from The Crests' song, which was re-recorded by The Stray Cats for the Sixteen Candlessoundtrack.Johnnie Maestro and his later group, The Brooklyn Bridge, continue to perform and appear at show dates, primarily at East Coast venues.
Robert Young wrote most of The Counts songs, such as "Hot Tamale" and "Darling Dear". Their smash hit "Darling Dear" moved into the top ten R&B charts in 1954. The hit song made it to #6 in the nation. The Counts signed with Dot Records in 1954 while still teenagers. All members attended Crispus Attucks High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, while the band formed.
The group's first single, "Whole Lotta' Woman," was released in January 1961 and failed to chart. Within months of its release, Leroy Fair was replaced by Benny Reeves, brother of Martha Reeves. Shortly thereafter, Benny Reeves left to serve in the United States Navy and he was replaced by Sylvester Potts. In 1961 the group's second single, "The Stretch", was released and it also failed to chart. In early 1962, Gordy had The Contours record "Do You Love Me," a composition originally meant for The Temptations. The resulting record, with its shouted lead vocals from Billy Gordon, became a number-two hit in 1962.
During the mid 1960s The Contours recorded several records which received R&B radio play (notably "First I Look at the Purse" and "Just a Little Misunderstanding"), but were considered secondary to Motown's major male vocal groups: The Temptations, the Four Tops, and The Miracles. The group's seven-year contract with Motown expired in 1967 and when lead singer Dennis Edwards was recruited to replace the departed David Ruffin as lead singer of The Temptations in early 1968, The Contours disbanded. Edwards later became a solo hits maker as well.
Although they charted up a hit in the UK Singles Chart in 1970 with a re-release of "Just A Little Misunderstanding," The Contours' real claim to fame lies with "Do You Love Me." Both these tracks and others Contours work can be found on various Motown compilation albums.
In the early 1970s, Joe Billingslea resurrected the group with himself, Council Gay, Arthur Hinson, Martin Upshire and C. Autry Hatcher as its members, and began performing at local clubs around Detroit. During the seventies and early eighties, the group's popularity increased and they began playing dates throughout the US and even some international dates. In 1984, Charles Davis replaced Hinson and a week later Potts rejoined the group replacing Gay. In 1987, Hatcher left the group and Arthur Hinson returned. In 1988, Darell Nunlee was added when Martin Upshire left. The same year, "Do You Love Me" was prominently featured in the film Dirty Dancing. In 1988, a reissue of "Do You Love Me" sent the song back to the Billboard pop charts for eight weeks, peaking at number eleven. The movie and the record spawned a 1988 "Dirty Dancing Concert Tour" followed by a new recording contract for Ian Levine's Motorcity RecordsFlashback and Revenge although the latter was not released although the songs came out on a later compilation. where the group recorded two albums
In 1992, Hinson left the group, and it continued as a quartet until 1993 when Nunlee left. Al Chisholm (formerly with The Falcons) and Gary Grier were recruited in 1993. This configuration - Joe Billingslea, Chisholm, Davis, Grier and Potts - continued from 1993 until 2004.
In 2004, Sylvester Potts left to form his own group with the four members (Leroy Seabrooks, Kim Green, Tony Womack and Darell Nunlee) of a local Detroit group named Upscale, which immediately began performing as 'The Contours'. Billingslea sued and Potts countersued, each claiming the rights to the name. These suits were resolved in an out-of-court settlement which provided for the existence of both groups to be identified as "Joe Billingslea and The Contours" and "The Contours featuring Sylvester Potts," respectively. Seabrooks has since left the Potts group making it a quartet. In 2006, Joe Billingslea and The Contours filled the vacant bass singing spot created by Potts' departure with Odell Jones. Both groups are currently performing. Joe Billingslea and The Contours are among the acts featured in a DVD released by Motown in January 2007 called "Motown: The Early Years," featuring their appearances on the Public Broadcasting System specials.
Billingslea continues to perform with "Joe Billingslea and The Contours." Original member Hoggs left The Contours in 1964 to become a minister. Today he is retired and lives in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. In 2005, Hoggs made his first and only appearance since 1964, singing with Billingslea and The Contours for the taping of "Motown: The Early Years." Johnson committed suicide in Detroit on July 11, 1981. Gordon died in 1999 and Fair died in December 2004. Mid-1960s member Joe Stubbs - brother of Levi Stubbs - died February 5, 1998. Huey Davis (pictured on the Do You Love Me album cover, but never officially a member of The Contours) died February 23, 2000 at his home in Detroit. Potts continues to perform with his version of the Contours to this day. They can be seen headlining the 'Ultimate Doo Wop' series of concerts that travel around the United States each year.
All singles were issued on Gordy Records unless otherwise noted
The songwriting team Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller had started Spark Records, and in 1955 produced "Smokey Joe's Cafe" for The Robins (their 5th single with Leiber-Stoller). The record was popular enough that Atlantic Records offered Leiber and Stoller an independent production contract to produce The Robins for the Atlantic label. Only two of The Robins -- Gardner and Nunn -- were willing to make the move to Atlantic, recording their first songs in the same studio as The Robins had done (Master Recorders). In late 1957 the group moved to New York and replaced Nunn and Hughes with Cornelius Gunter and Will "Dub" Jones. The new quartet was from then on stationed in New York (although all had Los Angeles roots).
The Coasters' association with Leiber and Stoller was an immediate success. Together they created a string of good-humored "storytelling" hits that are some of the most entertaining from the original era of rock and roll. Their first single, "Down in Mexico", was an R&B hit in 1956 and appears (in a re-recording from the early 1970s - still with Gardner singing the lead) on the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. The following year, The Coasters crossed over to the national charts in a big way with the double-sided "Young Blood"/"Searchin'". Searchin was the group's first U.S. Top 10 hit, and topped the R&B charts for 13 weeks, becoming the biggest R&B single of 1957 (all these were recorded in Los Angeles).
"Yakety Yak" (recorded in New York), featuring King Curtis on tenor saxophone, included the famous lineup of Gardner, Guy, Jones and Gunter, became the act's only national #1 single, and also topped the R&B chart. The next single, "Charlie Brown", reached #2 on both charts. This was followed by "Along Came Jones", "Poison Ivy" (#1 for a month on the R&B chart), and "Little Egypt (Ying-Yang)".
Changing popular tastes, and a couple of line-up changes, contributed to a lack of hits in the 1960s. During this time, Billy Guy was also working on solo projects, so New York singer Vernon Harrell was brought in to replace Guy for stage performances. Later members included Earl "Speedo" Carroll (lead of The Cadillacs), Ronnie Bright (the bass voice on Johnny Cymbal's "Mr. Bass Man"), Jimmy Norman, and guitarist Thomas "Curly" Palmer. The Coasters signed with Columbia Records's Date label in 1966, but were never able to regain their former fame. The Coasters had a minor chart entry with "Love Potion No. 9" in 1971. In Britain, a 1994 Volkswagen TV advertisement used the group's "Sorry But I'm Gonna Have To Pass" track, which led to a minor chart placement in that country.
The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, crediting the members of the 1958-era configuration. The Coasters also joined the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.
Several groups used the name in the 1970s, touring throughout the country, though Carl Gardner, one of the original Coasters, held the legal rights to it. Gardner continued to tour with the Coasters and has made many attempts to stop bogus groups with no connection to the original group from using the name. In late 2005 Carl's son Carl Gardner, Jr. took over as lead with the group, when his father retired. The Coasters of 2008: Carl Gardner Jr, Ronnie Bright, Alvin Morse, J.W. Lance, and Thomas Palmer (gtr), with Gardner Sr as coach.
As of 2009, all of the other original group members, except Leon Hughes and Carl Gardner, have died. Some of the former members suffered tragic ends. Saxophonist and "fifth Coaster" King Curtis was stabbed to death by two junkies outside his apartment building in 1971. Cornelius Gunter was shot to death while sitting in a Las Vegas parking garage in 1990. Nate Wilson, a member of one of Gunter's offshoot Coasters groups, was shot and his body dismembered in 1980.
Former manager Patrick Cavanaugh was convicted of the murder after Wilson threatened to notify authorities of Cavanaugh's intent to buy furniture with stolen checks. While Cavanaugh was convicted of the murder and given the death sentence in 1984, his sentence was commuted to life in prison. He died in 2006, in Nevada's Ely State Prison. Cavanaugh was 60.
The Coasters continue to appear regularly on "oldies" shows and PBS specials as old favorites and are available for bookings.
The Hits list below is from Joel Whitburn's Top R&B Singles and from the Pop positions published in Bill Millar's book "The Coasters" (1975).
In late June, 2007 Carl Gardner's autobiography "Carl Gardner: Yakety Yak I Fought Back - My Life with The Coasters" was published at AuthorHouse. On August 28, 2007 the Coasters' Leiber-Stoller produced recordings for Date/King 1966-1972 was released on a Varèse Vintage (Varèse Sarabande) CD, titled "Down Home" (302 066 844 2) - and on December 12, 2007 the complete Atco recordings 1954-1966 were released on a Rhino Handmade 4CD-set, titled "There's A Riot Goin' On: THE COASTERS ON ATCO" (Rhino RHM2 7740).
LegacyThe Coasters' repertoire had a significant impact on '60s and '70s rock artists. For example, Leon Russell performed "Young Blood" at the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971, imitating the group's arrangement of the song with four different solo voices; Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen recorded The Robins' "Riot in Cell Block No. 9," while The Beach Boys recorded a 1971 version with revised lyrics by that group's vocalist Mike Love, titled "Student Demonstration Time." The novelty singer Ray Stevens reached No. 27 on the U.S. pop singles chart with a 1969 remake of "Along Came Jones." Elvis Presley included "Little Egypt" in the soundtrack for his 1964 film Roustabout. The Rolling Stones included "Down Home Girl" as an album track on their 1965 U.S. album Right Now. The Monkees reached No. 10 on the Cashbox singles chart with a remake of "D.W. Washburn." Several Coasters songs were part of The Beatles' repertoire before the British rock group began its recording career; George Harrison is among the singers on the above-mentioned Leon Russell live recording. The Grateful Dead similarly performed several Coasters songs in its early days, although this was influenced by a weekend in 1965 in which it (while still called The Warlocks) served as pickup band for The Coasters at a lounge in Belmont, CA. When The Beach Boys and Grateful Dead joined on stage to perform a brief set at New York City's Filmore East, they performed "Searchin'" and "Riot in Cell Block No. 9." Numerous groups have recorded "Poison Ivy."
The Coasters' hits also comprised a major portion of the song score for the 1994 musical revue Smokey Joe's Cafe, a retrospective of Leiber & Stoller songs that received one Grammy Award and seven Tony Award nominations following its 1995 Broadway debut. Their song "Baby, That's Rock and Roll" has served as the main title for a biography/songbook of Leiber & Stoller songs and a Bravo television documentary on the songwriters.
In addition, Coasters songs and the Coasters themselves have been referred to by later popular musicians. Frank Zappa referenced the group in the lyrics of the song "Status Back Baby" on his second album, Absolutely Free. Sly Stone titled a No. 1 hit 1971 album by his group Sly & the Family Stone after the tag line from "Riot in Cell Block No. 9": There's a Riot Goin' On. The folksinger David Bromberg quoted from "Little Egypt" in his 1972 song "Sharon."
The original lineup (October 1955 - 1957):
The classic lineup (1958 - mid 1961):
The qualitative lineup (mid 1961 - 1967):
The revival lineup (1968 - 1979):
The resurrection lineup (1980 - 1997):
The current lineup (1998 - present):
Label and catalogue number followed by month/year of issue, and by track titles (with lead and recording dates).
The Robins (only singles featuring Carl Gardner are listed)
(Carl Gardner, Bobby Nunn, "Ty" Terrell Leonard, Billy Richard, Roy Richard, Grady Chapman)
leads: CG-Gardner; BN-Nunn; GC-Chapman; RB-Richard Berry (guest lead) (Los Angeles)
(all of the above later issued on EP, LP and CD compilations as The Coasters).
The Coasters (all "true"/legal Coasters singles are listed)
(Carl Gardner, Bobby Nunn, Billy Guy, Leon Hughes)
leads: CG-Gardner; BN-Nunn; BG-Guy (Los Angeles, Chicago*, New York**)
(Gardner, Guy, Will Jones, Cornell Gunter)
leads: CG-Gardner; BG-Guy; WJ-Jones, CoG-Gunter (New York)
CD version of Charlie Brown has CG, CoG as lead
A-side also issued as Clothes Line (Wrap It Up)
(Gardner, Guy, Jones, Earl Carroll)
leads: CG-Gardner; BG-Guy; WJ-Jones; EC-Carroll (New York, Los Angeles*)
(Gardner, Guy, Carroll, Ronnie Bright)
Carl Gardner & The Coasters
(Gardner, Carroll, Bright, Jimmy Norman)
Note: There are several "Coasters"-singles and -LPs/CDs featuring former members (which are not the true Coasters).
Discography the original US vinyl albums
Recorded in New York unless otherwise indicated.
Lead singers: Carl Gardner (CG), Billy Guy (BG), Will "Dub" Jones (WJ), Ronnie Bright (RB), Jimmy Norman (JN).
Their break came in 1950, when they were introduced to Lou Krefetz, who became their manager. They signed to New York's Rainbow Records and released one single, "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" backed with "When You Come Back To Me". Soon after, Krefetz brought them to Atlantic Records' Ahmet Ertegün, and they were signed to Atlantic in 1951. At this point, Bill Harris was added as their guitarist. Their first appearance came in February of that year at the Apollo Theater.
Their very first Atlantic session produced their first big hit, "Don't You Know I Love You", which hit #1 on the national charts in June of 1951. "One Mint Julep" (written by Rudy Toombs) and "Fool, Fool, Fool" also went #1 in September. Bailey was drafted in 1952, and John Phillip was brought in to replace him. He stayed for just a few months, before leaving and being replaced by Charlie White, who had been in the Dominoes and the Checkers.
With personal problems, White was fired near the end of 1953. His replacement was Billy Mitchell. The group continued recording with Atlantic, without as much success as they'd previously seen. Buddy Bailey was discharged from the Army in May 1954, and rejoined the group, making them a quintet. They continued in recording, and in 1955, found moderate success with "Devil or Angel".
Mitchell left in 1957 to do solo work, but rejoined shortly thereafter, opting to do both solo work and work with the Clovers. Their Atlantic contract expired, and Krefetz moved them to his own label, Poplar Records. Poplar was purchased by United Artists Records shortly thereafter. The group's work with United Artists put them in contact with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. After a few recordings there, they had their biggest hit, "Love Potion #9", which came in July of 1959, and featured Mitchell on lead.
They recorded two versions of Love Potion #9 on UA. For the album of that name a new final verse was created referring to "love potion #10". In fact this version became played more often on radio than the single at the time.
After love potion #9Their UA contract expired in 1961, and they moved to Winley Records. With little success there, the group split. Lucas and Mitchell brought in new members James "Toy" Walton and Robert Russell, and recorded shortly for Atlantic. John Bailey recorded with his own Clovers group in 1962 for Winley (owned by Harold's brother Paul).
Mitchell left in 1962, and was replaced by Roosevelt "Tippie" Hubbard. They recorded as "Tippie and the Clovermen" and "Tippie and the Clovers" for Tiger Records, a subsidiary of Rust Records. John Bailey's group, by this time consisting of Nathaniel Bouknight, Peggy Winley Mills (sister of Paul and Harold), and Ann Winley, Paul's wife, recorded for another Paul Winley label, Porwin records. Near the end of 1963, the two groups came back together, into a Clovers trio featuring Harold Lucas, John Bailey, and the returning Harold Winley.
Following The Searchers' remake of "Love Potion #9" in 1965, some of the old Winley and Porwin tracks were leased to Pickwick International Records, who released them as the album The Original Love Potion #9 By The Clovers. This version of the song was not the same as the UA. Winley left for the second time in 1965. Bailey and Lucas recorded briefly for Atlantic with the returning Robert Russell and Jimmy Taylor. The sides were sold to Port Records and released with little success. Lucas and Bailey split that year.
Lucas and Russell brought back Tippie Hubbard and Toy Walton and, with fifth member Al Fox, recorded as "Tippie and the Wisemen" for Washington D.C.'s Shrine Records. With Fox out, they changed back to The Clovers. John Bailey also formed a Clovers group, who re-recorded "Devil or Angel" and "Love Potion #9" for Lana Records in 1965. To add to this confusion, Harold Winley started a third Clovers group in 1968, with members Bobby Adams, Johnny Taylor, and Ray Loper, and recorded for Josie Records.
Robert Russell died in 1969 and Lucas replaced him with John Bowie. They released a disco tune, "Bump Jive!", on D.C. based Alladin Records in 1975. Shortly after the recording, Toy Walton died, and was replaced by Johnnie Mason. Tippie Hubbard died in 1980 and was replaced by Steve Charles.
A reunion was planned in 1988 in Austin, Texas. Lucas brought his Clovers, as well as reuniting with John Bailey, Matthew McQuarter, and Harold Winley. Lucas' group also performed at a benefit concert later that year for Bill Harris, the groups long-time guitarist. Also in 1988, Lucas' group recorded for Ripete Records, in Elliott, South Carolina.
Chuck Battle replaced Charles around 1990. Harold Lucas became ill and stopped touring around 1993. His place was taken by Richard Merritt. Battle left in 1992 and was replaced by Preston Monroe, who was later replaced by David Warren. King Raymond Green was added to the group from The Flamingos in 1998 to join Johnnie Mason, David Warren, and Richard Merritt. The group performed on the PBS special, Doo Wop 51 in 2000. John Bowie died in 2002, but the group continued to work under the leadership of Johnnie Mason. The Clovers Were inducted to the Doo Wopp Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002.
Richard Merritt left the group in 2002; his last performance was the VGHOF induction ceremony. David Warren departed soon after. Mason currently leads a new group featuring former Flamingo Ron Reace, William Rawlings, and Antwan Drayton.
In 2006, King Raymond Green left Johnnie Mason's group to form a new group of Clovers (sanctioned by Steve Charles who co-owns The Clovers Trademark along with Johnnie Mason). The new group formed by King Raymond Green recruited Harold Winley (now the only surviving founding member) and new members Franklen Poole, Tyrone Burwell, Juan Hawkins, and guitarist Tye Lovell. This group is managed by Powerhouse Productions, and still tours the U.S and Europe. Following the 1988 reunion, Winley and Buddy Bailey had joined Jimmy Nabbie's Ink Spots; Winley still performs in that group from time to time. Prior to his death, Bailey also performed solo, sometimes backed up by The Calvanes, who feature former Bailey-Clovers member Bobby Adams. No remnants of the former Bailey groups exist.
Awards & RecognitionRhythm and Blues Foundation, Pioneer Award, 1988; inducted into The Doo Wop Hall of Fame in 2001, inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002, inducted in the United in Group Harmony (UGHA) Hall of Fame, 2002.
Not everyone thought the song was a precursor of good things to come. Peter Potter, host of TV's popular "Juke Box Jury", was seemingly aghast at the state of this then-new trend in pop music and attacked "Sh-Boom" asking if anyone would remember the admittedly demented ditty in five, let alone 20 years time and whether any record label would even think to re-release it in the future.The songwriters were deluged by music publishing companies wanting to buy the rights to "Sh-Boom" in order to reap huge potential earnings (the group quickly came to an agreement with Hill & Range). Soon there were cover versions hitting radio stations across the country simultaneously with the Chords' original single. Some were memorable and some otherwise, including a countrified take by the Billy Williams Quartet for Coral, and more notably the Crew-Cuts' version for Mercury.
In 2006 in the Disney/Pixar film, Cars, "Sh-Boom" is included on the film as neon lights return to an old Route 66 town that has been neglected over the years. The song is included on the movie's soundtrack compact disc.
In 1989 the Crew Cuts version of Sh-Boom is used in the movie Road House, when Ben Gazzara almost runs Dalton (Patrick Swayze) off the road. - The Internet Movie Database.Despite all their collective efforts, The Chords remain archetypal one-hit wonders.