Charles Wright was born on April 6, 1940 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950s, playing guitar and singing in several doo-wop groups including the Turks, the Twilighters, the Shields and the Gallahads. He also briefly worked as an A&R for Del-Fi Records and was responsible for the “Hit” record “Those Oldies But Goodies” (Remind me of you) by Little Caesar and the Romans in 1961. In 1962, he formed his own band Charles Wright & the Wright Sounds which included future Watts Band member, John Raynford, along with Daryl Dragon, aka “Captain” of Captain & Tennille. Over the course of the next six years, Wright would add more players to his group and these were the players who would eventually become known as the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, at least by 1968. Several of those members, namely drummer James Gadson, bassist Melvin Dunlap, trombonist/arranger Ray Jackson, and both guitarists Al McKay and Benorce Blackmon, would play on several Dyke & the Blazers charting singles, including “We Got More Soul” (1969) and “Let a Woman Be a Woman, Let a Man Be a Man” (1969).
The Wright Sounds played in several venues across Los Angeles but their best known stint was three years (ending in 1968) at Hollywood’s Haunted House nightclub. Originally located at Hollywood and Vine, the Haunted House was a popular club in the 1960s and appears in several popular culture artifacts, most notably the 1969 go-go dancing B-movie, Girl in Gold Boots.
First Watts 103rd Band
The name, Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band was originally coined by Los Angeles producer and Keymen Records owner Fred Smith in 1967. However, between 1967 and 1968, the Watts 103rd name applied to three, arguably four different personnel configurations before settling into the final band who played on every Watts 103rd album from 1968 forward.
Smith produced a theme song for KGFJ radio personality, DJ Magnificent Montague. The song became so popular that Smith released it as a single in 1967 and created the name, Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band for the studio group who had recorded it. Purportedly, the players on the single included Wright, James Carmichael, Leon Haywood, and Bobby Womack.
There is some confusion because, after “Spreadin’ Honey” became a success, Montague re-released the single on the MoSoul label (a Keyman subsidiary) and credited to a different group altogether, the Soul Runners. It has been long assumed that the Soul Runners were simply an earlier line-up of the Watts Band however, according to Wright, the two groups had nothing to do with one another whatsoever.