Bottom, L-to-R: Connie Bailey, Wiley Trass; Top, L-to-R: Van Pleasants, Ken Pleasants, Fred Hughes
The Four Rivers (Oakland, Ca.)
Ken Pleasants (Lead)
Fred Hughes (Lead)
The Four Rivers
1962 - I Confess / Sooner Or Later (Josie 901)
1962 - Constantly In My Mind (Music City)
1962 - Nature Boy (Music City)
Little Lynn & The Four River
1962 - Send My Records C.O.D. / I Walk In Circles (Little Lynn) (Music City 845)
A quintet comprising of Ken Pleasants, lead, Fred Hughes (who had at times sung in The Holidays) also singing lead, plus Billy Harrison, Wiley Trass who had also served in The Holidays, and Marcellus Matthews. They called themselves The Five Disciples. Fred Hughes had started out as gospel singer at The Good Samaritan Church of God in Christ. The Five Disciples sprang out of the church where Pleasants and Hughes were often featured soloists under the direction of Olla Andrews and Edwin Hawkins of "Oh happy day" fame. By the spring of 1961, all the original members of The Five Disciples had been drawn back into "the devil's music." Out of the ashes sprung The Four Rivers who were formed during the summer of 1961. At first they were a trio of Pleasants, Fred Hughes, and Wylie Trass. Needing a fourth member, they approached Connie Bailey. Bailey was a first class choreographer who soon became an indispensable asset to the quartet. Bailey made showmen of the member singers. Ray Dobard (owner and operator of the Music City Label) took care of the group's recording needs while The Magnificent Montague (R&B disc jockey) handled the group's material."I confess" (formally known as "Matilda") backed by "Sooner or later" plus a song remembered as "Constantly In My Mind" were recorded at Music City without the group under contract. Montague refused initially to release the two songs, claiming they sounded too churchy to click in the commercial market.
The Magnificent Montague Ray Dobard
Being miffed a little by Montague's inaction, the group headed south to get a contract with a bigger label. The Four Rivers landed up at Capitol Records on Hollywood and Vine. At Capitol, under the stewardship of Googie René who rearranged the scores, the group re-recorded "Sooner or later" and "I confess." Capitol loved the results and wanted to issue a single. However, someone had passed along the glad tidings to Montague, and after his threats, Capitol dropped The Four Rivers like a ton of hot bricks. When "I confess" came out, KSAN and KWBR played it with some regularity, thus generating a few paying engagements. Both Montague and Dobard had a stake in The Four Rivers and through contacts back east had the recording placed with Josie Records out of New York. The 45, although one of the best late vocal group recordings ever to come out of the Bay Are, never took off. This was coupled with the fact that the tight harmony vocal group era was coming to a close. Groups who offered dance craze or novelty renderings seemed to hold the strongest formula for success. However, The Four Rivers shared gigs with Ike and Tina Turner and landed back-up vocal track work on Music City sessions behind visiting talent such as Richard Berry, James Brown, and Big Mama Thornton. Much of this activity was in some way related to Dobard. Ken Pleasants also created keyboard and organ accompaniment behind vocal groups at the Music City Studio. Other efforts of his included a single for Music City in support of an artist named Lynn Stevens.
(updated by Hans-Joachim)
The Four Rivers
Sooner Or Later / I Confess Nature Boy
Little Lynn & The Four Rivers
Send My Records C.O.D.