Category Archives: male vocalist

Blue Magic – Sideshow


Blue Magic is an American R&B/soul music group, and one of the most popular Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. Founded in 1972, the group’s original members included lead singer Ted Mills with Vernon Sawyer, Wendell Sawyer, Keith Beaton, and Richard Pratt. Their most notable songs included smooth soul ballads such as “Sideshow”, “Spell”, “What’s Come Over Me”, “Three Ring Circus” and “Stop to Start.”


Blue Magic was formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1972 when former member of The Delfonics Randy Cain brought in singer-songwriter Ted Mills to do some writing with the Philly-based WMOT production company to create a new band. A short time later the group Shades of Love, featuring Keith Beaton, Richard Pratt, Vernon Sawyer and his brother Wendell, came in to audition. (According to Marc Taylor in his book ‘A Touch of Classic Soul of the Early 1970s’,[1] “although the group performed admirably, they lacked a standout lead singer”.) The execs decided to replace the Toppicks, the act Mills recorded with. They inserted Shades of Love (which they owned contractually) with Ted Mills and retitled the group Blue Magic. They were signed with Atco Records through WMOT in the same year.


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What Does It Take – Junior Walker- 1969


Autry DeWalt Mixon, Jr. (June 14, 1931 – November 23, 1995),[1] known by the stage name Junior Walker, styled as Jr. Walker, was an American musician. His group, Jr. Walker & the All Stars, were signed to Motown’s Soul label in the 1960s, and became one of the company’s signature acts.

Life and career
Walker was born Autry DeWalt Mixon, Jr. in Blytheville, Arkansas,[1] and grew up in South Bend, Indiana. His saxophone style was the anchor for the band’s overall sound. The other original members of the group were drummer Tony Washington, guitarist Willie Woods, and keyboardist Vic Thomas.

The 1950s
His career started when he developed his own band in the mid-1950s as the “Jumping Jacks.”[1] His longtime friend Billy Nicks (drummer) formed his own team, the “Rhythm Rockers.” Periodically, Nicks would sit in on Jumping Jack’s shows, and Walker would sit in on the Rhythm Rockers shows.

Nicks obtained a permanent gig at a local TV station in South Bend, Indiana, and asked Walker to join him and his keyboard player (Fred Patton) permanently. Shortly after, Nicks asked Willie Woods, a local singer, to perform with the group; shortly after Woods would learn how to play guitar also. When Nicks got drafted into the United States Army, Walker convinced the band to move from South Bend to Battle Creek, Michigan.[1] While performing in Benton Harbor, Walker found a drummer, Tony Washington, to replace Nicks.[1] Eventually, Fred Patton (piano player) left the group, and Victor Thomas stepped in.[1] The original name, “The Rhythm Rockers,” was changed to “The All Stars”. Walker’s squealing gutbucket style was inspired by jump blues and early R&B, particularly players like Louis Jordan, Earl Bostic, and Illinois Jacquet.[1]

The 1960s and the 1970s
The group was spotted by Johnny Bristol, and he recommended them to Harvey Fuqua, in 1961, who had his own record labels.[1] Once the group started recording on the Harvey label, their name was changed to Jr. Walker All Stars. The name was modified again when Fuqua’s labels were taken over by Motown’s Berry Gordy, and Jr. Walker & the All Stars became members of the Motown family, recording for their Soul imprint in 1964.[1]

The members of the band changed after the acquisition of the Harvey label. Tony Washington, the drummer, quit the group, and James Graves joined. Their first and signature hit was “Shotgun,” written and composed by Walker and produced by Berry Gordy, which featured the Funk Brothers’ James Jamerson on bass and Benny Benjamin on drums. “Shotgun” reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the R&B chart in 1965, and was followed by many other hits, such as “(I’m A) Road Runner,” “Shake and Fingerpop” and covers of the Motown songs “Come See About Me” and “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)”. In 1966, Graves left and was replaced by old cohort Billy “Stix” Nicks, and Walker’s hits continued apace with tunes such as “I’m a Road Runner” and “Pucker Up Buttercup”.[1]

In 1969, the group had another hit enter the top 5, “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)”.[1] A Motown quality control meeting rejected this song for single release, but radio station DJs made the track popular, resulting in Motown releasing it as a single, whereupon it reached No. 4 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on the R&B chart. From that time on Walker sang more on the records than earlier in their career. He landed several more R&B Top Ten hits over the next few years, with the last coming in 1972.[1] In 1979, Walker went solo, disbanding the All Stars, and was signed to Norman Whitfield’s Whitfield Records label,[1] but he was not as successful on his own as he had been with the All Stars in his Motown period.



James Brown- This is A Man’ s World


“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” is a song by James Brown and Betty Jean Newsome. Brown recorded it on February 16, 1966 in a New York studio and released it as a single later that year. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2][3] Its title is a word play on the 1963 comedy film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

The song’s lyrics, which Rolling Stone characterized as “biblically chauvinistic”,[4] attribute all the works of modern civilization (the car, the train, the boat, and the electric light) to the efforts of men, but claim that it all would “mean nothing without a woman or a girl”.[1] The song also states that man made toys for the baby boys and girls, and makes a comment about the fact that “Man makes Money”, from other men. Before the song’s fade, Brown states that man is lost in his bitterness and in his emptiness. Brown’s co-writer and onetime girlfriend, Betty Jean Newsome, wrote the lyrics based on her own observations of the relations between the sexes. In later years, Newsome would claim that Brown didn’t write any part of the song and argued in court that Brown sometimes forgot to pay her royalties.[5]

The composition of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” developed over a period of several years. Tammy Montgomery, better known as Tammi Terrell, recorded “I Cried”, a Brown-penned song based on the same chord changes, in 1963. Brown himself recorded a demo version of the song, provisionally entitled “It’s a Man’s World”, in 1964. This version later appeared on the CD compilations The CD of JB and Star Time.

The released version of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” was recorded quickly, in only two takes, with a studio ensemble that included members of Brown’s touring band and a string section arranged and conducted by Sammy Lowe. A female chorus was involved in the recording sessions, but their parts were edited out of the song’s final master.[6]

“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” became a staple of Brown’s live shows for the rest of his career. Its slow, simmering groove and declamatory vocal line made it suitable for long, open-ended performances incorporating spoken ruminations on love and loss and sometimes interpolations from other songs. It appears on almost all of Brown’s live albums starting with 1967’s Live at the Garden. Brown also recorded a big band jazz arrangement of the song with the Louie Bellson Orchestra for his 1970 album Soul on Top.

In 2004, “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” was ranked number 123 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.


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“ELTON JOHN – Sad Songs (Say So Much)”


“Sad Songs (Say So Much)” is a song by Elton John and is the closing track on the 1984 album Breaking Hearts. It reached the No 5 on the U.S. chart. The lyrics describe how it sometimes helps for someone who is feeling sad, or who has lost a partner, to listen to old radio blues classics. In the years since its issue, radio airplay has been modest compared with some of John’s other 80s singles.

The music video, directed by Russell Mulcahy and shot on a street in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney, featured John without his familiar trademark glasses in some scenes. The single sleeve likewise featured John with no glasses.

John performed the song on One Night Only: The Greatest Hits Live at Madison Square Garden with Canadian rock star Bryan Adams. In 2013, John was joined by Rod Stewart in a special performance of the song at the London Palladium after being presented with first Brits Icon award in recognition of his “lasting impact” on UK culture.[1]

The song and the music video were both utilized in an early 1980s TV advertisement for Sasson Designer Jeans, altering the lyrics of the song to “Sasson says so much.”[2]



Roll With It – Steve Winwood


Stephen Lawrence “Steve” Winwood (born 12 May 1948) is an English musician whose genres include rock, blue-eyed soul, rhythm and blues, blues rock, pop rock, and jazz. Though primarily a vocalist and keyboardist, Winwood also plays bass guitar, drums, guitar, mandolin, violin, and other strings.

Winwood was a key member of The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith and Go. He also had a successful solo career with hits including “While You See a Chance”, “Valerie”, “Back in the High Life Again” and two US Billboard Hot 100 number ones: “Higher Love” and “Roll with It”. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Traffic in 2004.[1]

In 2005, Winwood was honoured as a BMI Icon at the annual BMI London Awards for his “enduring influence on generations of music makers.”[2] In 2008, Rolling Stone ranked Winwood #33 in its 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.[3] Winwood has won two Grammy Awards. He was nominated twice for the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist: 1988 and 1989.[4][5]

Stevie Winwood (1970)
While he was still a pupil at the Great Barr School,[7] Winwood was a part of the Birmingham rhythm and blues scene, playing the Hammond B-3 organ and guitar, backing blues singers such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Eddie Boyd, Otis Spann, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley on their United Kingdom tours, the custom at that time being for US singers to travel solo and be backed by pickup bands. At this time, Winwood was living on Atlantic Road in Great Barr, close to the Birmingham music halls where he played. Winwood modelled his singing after Ray Charles.[6]

Winwood joined the Spencer Davis Group at age 14,[8] along with his older brother, Muff, who later had success as a record producer. Steve’s distinctive high tenor singing voice and vocal style drew comparisons to Ray Charles.[9] At the end of 1965 the group had their first number one single with “Keep On Running”[10] and the money from this success allowed Winwood to buy his own Hammond B-3 organ.[6]

During this time Winwood joined forces with guitarist Eric Clapton as part of the one-off group Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse. Songs were recorded for the Elektra label, but only three tracks made the compilation album, What’s Shakin’. Winwood co-wrote and recorded the hits “Gimme Some Lovin'” and “I’m a Man” before leaving the Spencer Davis Group. Winwood met drummer Jim Capaldi, guitarist Dave Mason, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Wood when they jammed together at The Elbow Room, a club in Aston, Birmingham.[11] After Winwood left the Spencer Davis Group in April 1967, the quartet formed Traffic.[12] Soon thereafter, they rented a cottage near the rural village of Aston Tirrold, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire) to write and rehearse new music.[11] The period at the cottage proved important in the band’s development.[13][how?]

Early in Traffic’s formation, Winwood and Capaldi formed a songwriting partnership, with Winwood writing music to match Capaldi’s lyrics. This partnership was the source of most of Traffic’s material, including popular songs such as “Paper Sun” and “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys”, and outlived the band, producing several songs for Winwood and Capaldi’s solo albums. Over the band’s history, Winwood performed the majority of their lead vocals, keyboard instruments, and guitars. He also frequently played bass and percussion up to and including the recording sessions for their fourth album.[citation needed]

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Posted by on March 19, 2018 in entertainment, male vocalist


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Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band – Express Yourself


Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band is a pioneering American soul and funk band. Formed in the early 1960s, they had the most visibility from 1967 to 1973 when the band had 9 singles reach Billboard’s pop and/or rhythm and blues Hot 100 lists, such as “Do Your Thing” (#11 Pop, #12 R&B), “Till You Get Enough” (#12 R&B, #67 Pop), and “Love Land” (R&B #23, Pop #16). They are best known for their biggest hit on Warner Bros. Records, 1970’s “Express Yourself” (#3 R&B, #12 Pop), a song that has been sampled by rap group N.W.A and others.


Charles Wright and the Wright Sounds
Charles Wright was born on April 6, 1940 in Clarksdale, Mississippi.[1] 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.


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“It’s A Shame”


“It’s a Shame”

is a song co-written by Stevie Wonder, Syreeta Wright and Lee Garrett and produced by Wonder as a single for The Spinners on Motown’s V.I.P. Records label. The single became the Detroit-reared group’s biggest single on the Motown Records company since they had signed with the company in 1964 and also their biggest hit in a decade.

The lineup of the Spinners include original members Pervis Jackson, Henry Fambrough, Billy Henderson and Bobby Smith and lead vocalist G.C. Cameron. The quintet recorded the single in 1970.

The song, which is about a man who complains about a lover’s “messin’ around” on him, became a huge hit for the group reaching number-fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and number-three on the R&B singles chart, making it their biggest hit to date. The song was the first song Wonder produced for another act by himself.

Two years later, the group would leave Motown for a contract with Atlantic Records on the advice of fellow Detroit native Aretha Franklin, also an artist on that label. Cameron, who was having an affair with Gwen Gordy (sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy) decided to stay in Motown and the group hired Cameron’s cousin Philippé Wynne to replace him. Later, Cameron moved with the Gordys to Los Angeles, and stayed with Motown for over a decade.

Early recording years: 1961–71
The Spinners first hit the charts in August 1961 on Harvey Fuqua’s Tri-Phi Records, with “That’s What Girls Are Made For”, peaking at number 27. Bobby Smith sang lead vocal on this track, coached by Fuqua. (Some sources report Fuqua sang lead vocal on this track, but both Smith and Fuqua have stated at various times that it was Smith.) The group’s follow-up, “Love (I’m So Glad) I Found You”, also featured lead vocals by Smith, although again some sources credit Fuqua. This track reached number 91 that November, but none of their other Tri-Phi singles charted.

The extent to which Fuqua became a member of the group during their stay at Tri-Phi is debated. Fuqua apparently sang on at least some of the records, and at minimum considered himself a Spinner, as made explicit by the credits on Tri-Phi 1010 and 1024—the artist credit on both these 1962 singles reads “Harvey (Formerly of the Moonglows and the Spinners)”. However most sources,[clarification needed] while respecting Fuqua’s contributions to the group, do not list him as an official member.

James Edwards’ brother, Edgar “Chico” Edwards, replaced Dixon in the group in 1963, at which time Tri-Phi and the entire artist roster was bought out by Fuqua’s brother-in-law Berry Gordy of Motown Records. The Spinners were then assigned to the Motown label.

In 1964, the Spinners made their debut at the Apollo Theater and won instant acclaim, a rare feat at the time.[citation needed] But with the exception of “I’ll Always Love You” (led by Smith), which hit number 35 in 1965, success mostly eluded them during the 1960s. After “I’ll Always Love You”, they released one single a year from 1966 to 1969 inclusive, but none charted on the Billboard Hot 100, and only their 1966 song “Truly Yours” (led by Smith) hit the Billboard R&B chart, peaking at number 16.

With commercial success virtually non-existent, during much of this decade the Spinners were used by Motown as road managers, chaperones and chauffeurs for other groups, and even as shipping clerks. G. C. Cameron replaced Edgar “Chico” Edwards in 1967, and in 1969, the group switched to the Motown-owned V.I.P. imprint. (The label name is somewhat ironic, given that V.I.P. was generally considered a substandard imprint behind Motown, Gordy, Tamla, and Soul).[citation needed]

In 1970, after a five-year chart absence, they hit number 14 with writer-producer Stevie Wonder’s composition (the Cameron-led) “It’s a Shame” (co-written by Syreeta Wright), and charted again the following year with another song Wonder wrote and produced, “We’ll Have It Made” (led by Cameron), from their new album 2nd Time Around. However, these were their last two singles for V.I.P.

Shortly after the release of 2nd Time Around, as Fambrough has stated in interview,[3] has it that Atlantic Records recording artist Aretha Franklin suggested the group finish out their Motown contract and sign with Atlantic. The group made the switch but due to his contractual obligations, Cameron was unable to leave Motown so he remained with Motown as a solo artist and suggested his cousin, singer Philippé Wynne, join the Spinners as Cameron’s replacement and the group’s new lead singer. However, original lead singer Bobby Smith also retained his lead position.

The hit years with Philippé Wynne Edit
When the Spinners signed to Atlantic in 1972, they were a respected but commercially unremarkable singing group who had never had a top-ten pop hit — despite having been a recording act for over a decade. However, under the helm of producer and songwriter Thom Bell, the Spinners charted five top 100 singles (and two top 10s) from their first post-Motown album, Spinners (1972), and went on to become one of the biggest soul groups of the 1970s.

The Bobby Smith-led “I’ll Be Around”, their first top ten hit, was actually the B-side of their first Atlantic single, (the Wynne-led) “How Could I Let You Get Away”. Radio airplay for the B-side led Atlantic to flip the single over, with “I’ll Be Around” hitting #3 and “How Could I Let You Get Away” reaching #77. “I’ll Be Around” was also the Spinners’ first million-selling hit single.[4]

The 1973 follow-up singles “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” (led by Smith), “One of a Kind (Love Affair)” (led by Wynne), and “Ghetto Child” (led by Wynne) cemented the group’s reputation, as well as further that of Bell, a noted Philly soul producer.

Following their Atlantic successes, Motown also issued a “Best of the Spinners” LP which featured selections from their Motown/V.I.P. recordings. They also remixed and reissued the 1970 B-side “Together We Can Make Such Sweet Music” (led by Smith) as a 1973 A-side. In the midst of their Atlantic hits, it crawled to number #91 US.

The group’s 1974 follow-up album, Mighty Love, featured three Top 20 hits, “I’m Coming Home,” “Love Don’t Love Nobody,” and the title track. Their biggest hit of the year, however, was a collaboration with Dionne Warwick, “Then Came You” (led by Smith and Warwick), which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming each act’s first chart-topping ‘Pop’ hit. The song also reached the Top 3 of Billboard′s R&B and Easy Listening charts.

The Spinners hit the Top 10 twice in the next two years with the Smith-led “They Just Can’t Stop It (The Games People Play)” (Billboard #5) and the Wynne-led “The Rubberband Man” (Billboard #2). “Games People Play” featured guest vocalist Barbara Ingram (though producer Bell disputed this in a UK-based interview, claiming Barbara’s line was actually group member Henry Fambrough – his voice sped up[5]) and led to a nickname of “12:45” for bass singer Jackson, after his signature vocal line on the song.


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