Watch “Cliff Nobles & Co. – “The Horse”” on YouTube

04 Apr


Clifford James Nobles

(August 4, 1941  – October 12, 2008)[1] was an American pop singer, who is best known for his instrumental hit, “

The Horse




[2] was born in Grove Hill, Alabama, United States; grew up in Mobile, Alabama;[3] and began singing in high school as a member of a local group, The Delroys. He moved to Philadelphia and recorded three singles for Atlantic Records, none of which charted. While living in a commune in Norristown, Pennsylvania, he formed a group, Cliff Nobles & Co., with bassist Benny Williams, guitarist Bobby Tucker, and drummer Robert Marshall. They recorded demos and, with the help of songwriter/record producer Jesse James, landed a recording contract with Phil-L.A. of Soul Records.

Their second release for the record label was the single “Love Is All Right” b/w “

The Horse

“, which featured the horn section from what would later be known as MFSB. “The Horse” was simply an instrumental version of the A-side, and Nobles, who was the lead singer, does not actually play on the track at all. Nevertheless, it caught fire at radio stations and became a hit, peaking at #2 for three weeks on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968, as well as #2 on the R&B Singles chart.[4] It was held out of the #1 spot by Hugh Masekela’s “Grazin’ in the Grass”, on the week of 13 July 1968 – resulting in the rare occurrence of instrumentals occupying both the #1 and #2 slots of the R&B charts in the same week.[5] “

The Horse

” sold a million copies within three months of release, with the gold disc award from the R.I.A.A. made in August 1968.[3] Nobles’ record label continued releasing instrumental singles on which Nobles himself did not play a note, though a later single on which Nobles sang narrowly missed the R&B Top 40. An album credited to Cliff Nobles & Co., entitled The Horse, was released consisting mostly of instrumentals, and hit #159 on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart.[5]

After his music career was over, Nobles worked in construction and later in the electricity generation industry.[2]

Nobles died in Norristown, Pennsylvania, in October 2008, at the age of 67.[1]


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