• The Wigs 

    Billy Wells & The Crescents (2)  (Cleveland, Ohio)
    ref : The Wigs


    Personnel :

    Arthur Blackley (Lead / First & Second Tenor)

    Albert Banks  (Lead / First & Second Tenor)

    Leroy McQueen (Baritone / Second Tenor)

    James Porter (Bass / Baritone)

    Discography :

    Billy Wells & The Crescents (2)
    1956 - Julie / I Love Only You (Reserve 105)

    Clark Vaden &  The Crescents (2)
    1957 - Irene / You Can Make It If You Try (Dolly 5577/5578)

    The Wigs
    1964 - Sweeter Than Wine / Chicken Switch (Golden Crest 592)

    Biography :

    Inspired by Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, four teenagers from the Outwaithe Housing Projects in Cleveland, OH, formed a group similar to the New York sensations. Al Banks (tenor), Leroy McQueen (baritone), Garfield Jackson (bass), and 13-year-old William Burrell (lead), and christened themselves the Crescents. Al, Leroy, and Garfield were 18 years old and had graduated from school, while Burrell, who sung under the stage name of Billy Wells, still attended Kennard Jr. High. The group was making a name for themselves in the greater Cleveland area when Al Banks got the ear of Sid Friedman, who owned and ran All-Star Theatrical Agency. Sid had them audition for Henry George, who quickly signed them to Reserve Records, with Sid becoming their manager and booking agent.

    The Wigs         The Wigs

     From the studio came "Julie," written by member Garfield "Buddy" Jackson, and the flip, "I Love Only You," composed by Billy Wells. Reserve had a unique way of promoting its recordings, they gave the Crescents a few boxes of records and told them to drive to different R&B concerts, at which Friedman had booked them, to promote "Julie." Their recording had gotten airplay in the North and the South.  Lawyer "Henry" Curtis (tenor) replaced Wells and they continued to dazzle audiences. Other members left for various reasons which left an opening for Arthur Blakey to join in 1963. Arthur Blakey did most of the Crescents' leads in his readily identifiable, boisterous, shouting, country preacher style. Other artists were amazed that the Crescents could do with four voices what some groups had difficulty achieving with five. Once again they approached Sid Friedman, their previous manager and booking agent, who after hearing their exciting sound, signed them to contracts and proceeded to launch them in a new direction. The motive was to cash in on the Beatles, the latest rage, who were coming to America.

    The Wigs
    The Wigs - From left: Leroy McQueen, James Porter, Art Blakey and Albert Banks

     To be different, they decided to jettison the Crescents and renamed themselves the Wigs, after the Whig Political Party. Sid had colonial costumes made for them, complete with every detail from head to toe. The costumes were topped off with authentic-looking wigs. The group was a sight to behold. Friedman called Carl Maduri (who later hit with Wild Cherry), and he struck a deal for them with Golden Crest Records, where they enjoyed a second release, "Sweeter Than Wine," and then "Chicken Switch," as the Wigs, in 1964. As the Crescents, and the Wigs, the guys hung around approximately ten years, from 1956 to 1966. They only recorded two singles, but they did do the background vocals for Clark Vaden's 45 release, "Irene," and "You Can Make It If You Try," on Reserve Records.

    Songs :

    Billy Wells & The Crescents (2)

    Julie / I Love Only You

    Clark Vaden &  The Crescents (2)

    Irene                           You Can Make It If You Try

    The Wigs

    Sweeter Than Wine                      Chicken Switch






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