• 1956 - Walter Simpson, Luther McDaniels, Orvis Lee Teamer and Henry Shufford

    The Four Deuces (1) (Salinas, California)

    Personnel :

    Luther "Lord Luther" McDaniels (Lead)

    Jim Dunbar (First Tenor)

    Orvis Lee Teamer (Baritone)

    Henry Shufford (Bass)


    Discography :

    1955 - W-P-L-J / Here Lies My Love - Mr. Undertaker (Roy Hawkins) (Music City 790)
    1956 - Down It Went / The Goose Is Gone (Music City 796)

    1955 - What'cha Gonna Do? (Music City)

    Biography :

    The vocal group known as The Four Deuces was formed in the town of Salinas, California in the mid fifties. The lead singer named Luther McDaniels got together with a group of army buddies from Fort Ord composed by James Dunbar (first tenor), Orvis Lee Teamer (baritone) and Henry Shufford (bass) . After concentrating on some gospel songs, the group decided to turn to straight rhythm & blues. McDaniel had been working on a tune called "WPLJ" which was about a favorite beverage of some of the guys. The concoction of White Port and Lemon Juice was popular with the guys and was a personal favorite in the area. By now the quartet was looking for a possible record deal and they were told to try the Berkely-San Francisco area. They came in contact with Ray Dobard who operated Music City Records. They soon got into the recording studio with the Johnny Hartman combo and after many takes, a good version of McDaniel's tune "W-P-L-J" was cut along with a strange flip side called "Here Lies My Love" by Roy Hawkins on Music City # 790. The record soon blasted out of West in February of 1956 and got big play on radio stations across the country.

    The Four Deuces (1)    The Four Deuces (1)
    Lord Luther                                                                      

    Besides the home territory of San Francisco Bay area, the record was especially strong in Philadelphia. The group began to make appearances on the West Coast and had planned a trip East but that was soon put on hold. The Four Deuces capitalizing on their success recorded a commercial for Italian Swiss Colony, a famous wine producer using the white port of the tune to sell that company's product. The song was everywhere on radio from the original record to the radio commercials touting the wine. later in the year the Four Deuces were back in the Music City recording studio and in late August Music City released "Down It Went" and "The Goose Is Gone" on # 796. Tenor James Dunbar was replaced  with Walter Simpson and bass Henry Shufford  was replaced by Buel Moore. This time the like positioned "Down It Went" did not become a big success. The Four Deuces soon broke up as the army buddies went their seperate ways and followed their own personal dreams.

    The Four Deuces (1)

    Luther McDaniel continued to record into the nineteen sixties for independent labels in California and later on for Imperial Records and his own label called Lusan. None of the recordings had much success and McDaniel left the music business and in later years reportedly owned his own night spot in Salinas. He and his group may have been a one hit wonder, but that one hit was a memorable one complete with a top rock radio station in New York changing its call letters to WPLJ. And of course there was always that classic cover version by Frank Zappa. "W-P-L-J" is one of the signature tunes of that bygone era in the nineteen fifties when the R & B vocal group was the voice of a generation.


    Songs :
    (updated by Hans-Joachim) 

     W-P-L-J                                             Down It Went

    The Goose Is Gone                             What'che Gonna Do?

    Down It Went (alt. takes)


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