• The Five Chances
    Reggie Smith, Ronald Johnson, Johnny Jones, Jesse Stafford and Howard Pitman 

    The Five Chances (Chicago)
    ref : The Maples


Personnel :

    Darnell Austell (Lead)

    Eddie Stillwell (Lead)

    Reggie Smith (Tenor)

    Harold Jones (Baritone/Tenor)

    Howard Pitman (Baritone)

    John Austell (Bass)


    Discography :

    The Five Chances
    Singles :
    1954 - I May Be Small / Nagasaki (Chance 1157)
    1955 - All I Want / Shake A Link (Blue Lake 115)
    1956 - Gloria / Sugar Lips (States 156)
    1957 - My Days Are Blue / Tell Me Why (Federal 12303)
    1960 - Need Your Love / Land Of Love (Corina 2002)
    1960 - Need Your Love / Is This Love (PS 1510)
    Unreleased :
    1954 - Make Love To Me (Chance)
    1954 - California (Chance)
    1956 - Bashful Boy (States)

    Tiny Topsy bb The Five Chances
    1957 - Aw! Shucks Baby / Miss You So (not them)((Federal 12302)

    The Maples
    1955 - I Must Forget You / 99 Guys (Inst.) (Blue Lake 111)


    Biography :

    One of the pioneer Rhythm & Blues vocal groups in the wake of the breakthrough by The Orioles was a group from Chicago who were known originally as The El Travadors. They formed during the year of 1950 and the members of the group were Howard Pittman, Reggie Smith, Harold Jones, and the Austell brothers Darnell and John. They began singing together in high school and tried their hand at neighborhood appearances and local talent shows and amateur nights. It was one of these shows held at Chicago's famous night spot, the Crown Propeller, that they made contact with some people with the knowledge of the music scene that could help them. Before long they had a chance to audition for Chance Records, then a top independent label in Chicago. The top talent and A & R man at the label Ewart Abner (who in later years would be a key factor in the success of Vee-Jay and his own Abner labels) liked what he heard and almost immediately changed the name of the group from the El Travadors to blend with the label and so The Five Chances were born.

    The Five Chances
     (Top) Reggie Smith, (Middle) Harold Jones, Johnny Jones, Howard Pitman, (Bottom) Kenneth Childers    

    In August of 1954 Chance Records released "Nagasaki" and "I May Be Small" on # 1137 by the group. This ended up being a short relationship between the group and the label, as president Art Sheridan soon folded the Chance label, and so The Five Chances had to look elsewhere in their search for success.  On the Al Benson's Blue Lake label, a subsidiary of Parrot Records, The Maples were a one-time ad hoc gathering of vocal group singers who came together in November 1954. The Five Chances started working with singer Kenneth Childers, who was paying for his own sessions to get on record.The Maples were a one-time ad hoc gathering of vocal group singers who came together in November 1954. The Five Chances started working with singer Kenneth Childers, who was paying for his own sessions to get on record. Reggie Smith and Howard Pitman recalled the Five Chances (using the name Maples) making a recording with Childers. But it never got that far according to Johnny "Chubby" Jones (who was the lead singer for the Five Chances at the time). Rather, Jones arranged to back Childers at the recording session with an ad hoc group consisting of himself, Albert Hunter (from the Clouds), and Andrew Smith (from the Fasinoles).

    The Five Chances    The Five Chances

     The record was "I Must Forget You" b/w "99 Guys" and the group was dubbed the Maples. Like many Benson-produced jump sides, "99 Guys" gets a superb instrumental break courtesy of Von Freeman on one of the tenor. At this time Johnny "Chubby" Jones had replaced John Austell in the group. Blue Lake released "All I Want" and "Shake-A-Link" with Darnell Austell on lead. Except for a brief flurry of airplay in their native Chicago, the record did not receive much in the way of sales nationally.  Once again the Five Chances were looking for another record label, and they went once again to a Chicago independent, this time the States label. "Gloria" and "Sugar Lips" were released in May of 1956 on States # 156. The group tried to get the word out about their effort with appearances like the one they did in June of the year at Chicago's Trianon Ballroom called "Blues-O-Rama" that also starred Ray Charles, Muddy Waters, The Kool Gents, and others.

    The Five Chances
    Ronald Johnson, Howard Pitman, Jesse Stafford, Reggie Smith and  Johnny Jones

     Unfortunately it was more of the same for the group. By the following year they found themselves on still another label. This time it was the Federal label based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the group was going through a number of personnel changes. In July of 1957 Federal released "My Days Are Blue" and "Tell Me Why" on # 12303. In September the group appears at a big R & B midnight show at the Senate Theater presented by Sam Evans. Also on the bill are Jimmy Reed, Slim Harpo, Sonny Boy Williamson, and others. The Five Chances also appear at a R & B show in Joliet, Illinois Coliseum with Magic Sam, Billy "The Kid" Emerson, and others. By the end of the year the Five Chances had all but called it a day as a recording entity.


    Songs :

    The Five Chances

     I May Be Small / Nagasaki               All I Want / Shake A Link

    Gloria / Sugar Lips                  My Days Are Blue                   Tell Me Why        

    Need Your Love / Land Of Love                      Is This Love                  

    Make Love To Me                      California                             Bashful Boy      

    Tiny Topsy bb The Five Chances

    Aw! Shucks Baby

    The Maples

     I Must Forget You                                    99 Guys         

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