• The Four Pearls (Tacoma, Wa)
    aka The Fabulous Pearls


    Personnel :

    Artis Johnson Jr

    Elsie Hall

    Lloyd Foster

    William Watson


    Discography :

    The Fabulous Pearls
    Single :
    1959 - Jungle Bunny / My Heart's Desire (Dootone 448)

    Unreleased :
    1959 - She'll Understand (Dootone)
    1959 - Baby Drop Top (Dootone)
    1959 - I Laughed So Hard (Dootone)

    The Four Pearls
    1960 - Look At Me / It's Almost Tomorrow (Dolton 26)


    Biography :

    The Pearls were an R&B vocal group that formed at Tacoma's McCord Air Force Base in March, 1957. Artis Johnson Jr. -- an alumni of Oakland, CA's Midnights -- recruited three other singers (Elsie Hall, Lloyd Foster, & William Watson) & they competed in the military's annual Tops-N-Blue talent contest. By the next year's show Johnson & Hall had added new members: Rueben Martin & Ronald Small, they took the prize, & ended up performing Hall's "My Love" on the Ed Sullivan Show which aired from New York City on August 31st.  Back home, the Pearls began working weekends at Seattle's top R&B dancehall, the Birdland (2203 E. Madison Street), where they were backed by house-band, the Dave Lewis Combo. In February, 1959, the quartet left Seattle by car & drove to Los Angeles with hopes of getting discovered. Arriving at the offices of Walter "Dootsie" Williams' Dootone Records, they lucked into an immediate audition – & as the Los Angeles Sentinel noted on March 19th: "after hearing them sing just once he immediately signed them to a long term contract." Ensconced in a recording studio with Ernie "Raunchy" Freeman's ace band – Williams was ecstatic about his Fabulous Pearls, declaring that "Both sides of this record will explode."


    Well, not quite: even though the newspaper figured that the single's A-side ("Jungle Bunny") was an innocent "Easter-timed" (!) single, its title was actually based on some racist graffiti that Hall had once seen as a little girl. Williams thought it had "a slight edge due to its unusual style," but its edginess caused it to flop – so he began promoting the B-side, "My Heart's Desire," without much more luck. Three additional tunes -- "She'll Understand," "Baby Drop Top" & "I Laughed So Hard" -- were also cut, the latter finally surfacing on compilation CDs in 1995.  Back in Seattle -- & now recast as the Four Pearls -- they were signed in July, 1960, by Bob Reisdorff to his Dolton Records label which was scoring hits with Northwest acts like the Fleetwoods, Ventures & FranticsThe beautiful "Look At Me" (with Dave Lewis on piano) & "It's Almost Tomorrow" (with the Frantics) were cut by audio engineer, Kearney Barton, at his Northwest Recorders studio (622 Union Street).  When issued by Dolton around August, KOL & various other Northwest radio stations gave "Look At Me" some support, but it failed to grow into a broader hit & the Four Pearls headed to Canada where they played their final gigs.

    Songs :

    The Fabulous Pearls

    Baby Drop Top                     Jungle Bunny

    My Heart's Desire                  I Laughed So Hard

     The Four Pearls

                Look At Me                          It's Almost Tomorrow



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