Interviews/Stories

Here are a series of exclusive interviews/stories with legendary R&B artists with reminiscences of the early R&B scene.

Two Members of The Persuasions Honored with Awards in Brooklyn

Two members of The Persuasions – also known as “The Kings of A Cappella” – were honored in Brooklyn, New York on August 25.

Jayotis Washington, who joined the group as its first tenor in the early 1960s, was honored with an EarlyRnB.com Lifetime Achievement Award. Dave Revels, the group’s current lead singer, was honored with an EarlyRnB.com Keeping the Music Alive Award. In addition to his work with The Persuasions, Revels has performed with The Drifters and he produces a show called Shadows of the ‘60s – Tribute to Motown Super Groups.

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The Five Satins’ Fred Parris Honored with Mural in Hamden 

The late Fred Parris, the Five Satins’ founder, lead singer and writer of the group’s enduring R&B/doo wop classic, “In the Still of the Night,” has been honored with a mural in Hamden. 

His legacy will live on, through his music, as well as his visage on the street-facing side of the Miller Memorial Library on Dixwell Avenue.

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Clarence “Frogman” Henry Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

New Orleans-based R&B singer Clarence “Frogman” Henry was honored with an EarlyRnB.com Lifetime Achievement Award on May 25, 2023.

“I appreciate it,” said Henry, who first gained fame with the 1956 release of “Aint Got No Home,” a song in which Henry sings in his voice, as a woman using a high falsetto, and thirdly, as a frog.

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Bobby Hendricks, Former Lead Singer of The Drifters Honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award

Bobby Hendricks, a former lead singer of The Drifters in the 1950s, was honored with an EarlyRnB.com Lifetime Achievement Award on March 14, 2022.

Hendricks was diagnosed with Alzeheimer’s in 2016 and retired from singing two years later. The EarlyRnB.com Lifetime Achievement Award was his first honor in retirement, according to his wife.

“We have it in the family room, where it can be seen, and when everyone comes in, they’ll look at it and his face brightens up,” said Ruth, who added, “It makes him feel good because he knows they’re talking about him. It’s really nice. I really, really appreciate it and I know that he does.”

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Ronald Gathers, Erik and Kirk Lang (EarlyR&B.com)

EarlyRnB.com visits Philadelphia to meet up with Ronald Gathers (The Majors)

EarlyRnB.com paid a visit to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania five days before Christmas to meet up with Ronald Gathers, the last original member of The Majors (“A Wonderful Dream”).

Gathers truly appreciated the visit.

“I had the greatest time of my life with you guys,” he said, referring to Kirk Lang and his brother Erik. “I’m being serious. It’s something I’ll always treasure.”

Click here for the story and photos of the visit

The Majors’ Ronald Gathers Speaks with EarlyR&R.com

The first of a series of videos with Ronald Gathers of The Majors for EarlyRnB.com.

by KIrk Lang

Check out our photo gallery of a meeting with Ron Gathers in Philadelphia – Click here.

More videos coming soon.

The Five Satins’ Richie Freeman Speaks with EarlyR&B.com

A video snippet of a lengthy interview with Richie Freeman of The Five Satins for EarlyRnB.com. Richie joined The Five Satins in 1958. Prior to landing that gig, he had sung with The Starlarks.

by KIrk Lang

To read about Richie’s Lifetime Achievement Award,
click here

Billy Foster of Vernon Green and the Medallions

by KIrk Lang

Coming soon  … Interview with Billy Foster, one time boyfriend of Etta James who is credited as co-writer of the song “I’d Rather Go Blind”.

Thanks to “Doo-wop” Donna Whitworth who assisted EarlyRnB.com in securing the interview with Billy Foster.

Five Satins’ Lead Singer/Founder Fred Parris Honored with Original Artwork and “Living Legend” Award

by KIrk Lang

There were many great early R&B/doo-wop artists in the 1950s and 1960s but Fred Parris, founder and lead singer of The Five Satins, has proven himself to be amongst the elite.

From his work with his pre-Satins group The Scarlets – “Dear One” – to the absolute gems recorded under Fred Parris and the Restless Hearts in the 1960s, never mind quality cuts in the 70s recorded with other group names, Parris has a body of work that can stack up against anyone.

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Carl Fisher of The Jayhawks/The Vibrations

by Kirk Lang

Here is a nearly two-hour interview with Carl Fisher of The Jayhawks/The Vibrations. The Jayhawks hit with “Stranded In the Jungle” in 1956 and then later, as The Vibrations, the group scored its biggest smash, “The Watusi.” Around the same time, having recorded a demo for a producer not with their record label, the group was surprised to find its song had hit the airwaves. It was “Peanut Butter,” but The Vibrations were credited as The Marathons. Follow the link to listen to the interview for more details on The Jayhawks/Vibrations, Carl Fisher himself and recordings under additional group names.

Interview with Carl Fisher of The Jayhawks/Vibrations by EarlyRnB.com

Coming soon: Detailed story about Carl Fisher which will be available by following the link below. Just for now it contains the interview.

Carl Fisher Interview

Cornelius Grant of The Temptations full story – coming soon

by Kirk Lang

Cornelius Grant, guitarist with The Temptations in their musical prime, recently participated in a three hour interview with EarlyRnB.com. A full story on Grant’s time with The Temptations, as well as playing behind Mary Wells and a young Marvin Gaye, will be forthcoming.

Terry Johnson of The Flamingos Career Story

by Kirk Lang

A detailed story on Terry Johnson, the surviving member of The Flamingos, and one of the voices on the group’s signature tune, “I Only Have Eyes For You,”. Johnson was not only a vocalist and guitarist with the group, but was also the musical and vocal arranger of The Flamingos. He came up with the arrangement for “I Only Have Eyes For You.” Group mates and record execs initially disliked his arrangement but its dreamy design proved to be a moneymaker. Johnson generously talked with EarlyRnB.com for more than two hours.

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Tony Middleton receives Living Legend Hall of Fame Award

by Kirk Lang

Tony Middleton, former lead singer of The Willows, a Harlem-based R&B/doo-wop group, was honored with an EarlyRnB.com Living Legend Award Friday afternoon, November 20, 2020.

Along with a certificate, Middleton was given a microphone trophy.

Click here for the full story.

 

Sonny Turner of The Platters – Picked to Replace A Legend

by Kirk Lang

“As the son of a former professional fighter, Sonny Turner knows a thing or two about not giving up. It’s in his blood. The former lead singer of The Platters – he replaced the legendary Tony Williams in late 1959 – isn’t even thinking of retirement”.

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Richie Freeman receives Lifetime Achievement Award

by Kirk Lang

Richie Freeman, a New Haven native who joined The Five Satins in 1958 – just six months after graduating high school – was honored with an EarlyRnB.com Lifetime Achievement Award Monday afternoon, September 14, 2020.

“I was very surprised and happy,” said Freeman one day after making the trek from New York to his old stomping grounds.  “It was the first time I received something like that. It was real thoughtful.”

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Steve Cropper of Booker T & The MGs / Blues Brothers

by Alan White

“Long regarded as one of the finest studio guitarists in the music industry, and probably the best-known soul guitarist in the world, Steve Cropper has been most closely associated with the Stax Records label in Memphis, Tennessee, and was one of the pioneers in what has come to be regarded as “The Memphis Sound”.

Click here for the full interview

Please note this link will take you to the original interview on www.earlyblues.com.

Booker T Jones

Leader of the famed Stax Records house band Booker T & The MGs, architect of the Memphis soul sound, and one of the most legendary figures in music.

In conversation with Michael Ford,  Editor, Blues in Britain magazine.

Click here for the full interview.

Please note this link will take you to the original interview on www.earlyblues.com.

Image © copyright 2012 Alan White. All rights reserved.

Ed Martin of The Five Satins

– The baritone singer who helped make “In the Still of the Night” a legendary doo-wop hit

by Kirk Lang

“The loudmouth on there, that’s me,” said Martin, referring to his contribution to The Five Satins’ “In the Still of the Night,” one of the most well-known doo wop songs, and one that received further attention with its inclusion in the movie Dirty Dancing….

Click here for the full interview.

Chris Powers

Renowned Vinyl DJ / Compere / MC championing R&B / Stax

by Alan White

“Hey, this guy’s a star man – he’s keeping the STAX flag flying – letting people hear these good old STAX tunes”.
–  Steve Cropper

As a DJ you are renowned for spinning purely vinyl records, why is this?

“A good question. The number one reason is that having been collecting blues, black music, R&B, 45s since the early ’60s I’ve amassed a hell of a collection. So, they take a lot of lugging about but to have that piece of kit in your hands and the needle then just gets bounced down into the groove and to feel it, and watch it happening is just a buzz.  The authenticity.  That is how Dee-Jaying started off, the essence of Dee-Jaying is how it began and lasted for 30 years before the advent of CDs…”

Click here for the full interview.

 

John Steel of The Animals

by Alan White

John started his career as a musician while still in school around 1957. He met the future lead singer of the Animals, Eric Burdon, while they were studying together at the Newcastle College of Art and Industrial Design. His first instrument was the trumpet, and this was his primary instrument in the first group where he and Burdon played together. “When I played drums rather than trumpet I never felt really confident enough, because the people I was influenced by and admired were jazz drummers … There was no way I was going to be that good so I never considered myself good enough to aspire to that kind of thing. But somehow I just accidentally fell into rock ‘n’ roll and R&B”.

Click here for the full interview.

Please note this link will take you to the original interview on www.earlyblues.com.

Mick Taylor of The Rolling Stones

by Alan White

“Guitarist Mick Taylor was neither an original member of the Rolling Stones nor still in the band when it began selling out sports stadiums in the late -’80s and ’90s. But the sophisticated jazz- and blues-influenced guitar licks Mick added to such classic albums as Sticky Fingers gave the Stones an added dimension they lacked before and after him”.

“Mick is one of the most stunning guitarists in the world. His tones are warm and rich, and are totally unique.”  Bob Dylan

Click here for the full interview.

Please note this link will take you to the original interview on www.earlyblues.com.

More soon …

Ronald Gathers, Erik and Kirk Lang (EarlyR&B.com)