The Heartbeats (2) (Jamaica, Queens,New-York)


    Personnel :

    James Sheppard(Lead)

    Albert 'Walter' Crump(Tenor)

    Robby Tatumaka "Robby Brown"(Tenor)

    Vernon Seavers(Baritone)

    Wally Roker(Bass) 


    Discography :

    Singles :
    1955 - Tormented / After Everybody's Gone (Network 71200)
    1955 - Crazy For You / Rockin-N-Rollin-N-Rhythm-N-Blues(Hull 711)
    1956 - Darling How Long / Hurry Home Baby (Hull 713 / Gee 1062)
    1956 - Your Way / People Are Talking (Hull 716 / Gee 1061)
    1956 - A Thousand Miles Away / Oh Baby Don't (Hull 720 / Rama 216)
    1957 - I Won't Be The Fool Anymore / Wedding Bells (Rama 222)
    1957 - Everybody's Somebody's Fool / I Want To Know (Rama 231)
    1957 - When I Found You / Hands Off My Baby (Gee 1043)
    1957 - After New Year's Eve / 500 Miles To Go  (Gee 1047)
    1958 - Down On My Knees / I Found A Job (Roulette 4054)
    1958 - One Day Next Year / Sometimes I Wonder (Roulette 4091)
    1959 - One Million Years / Darling I Want To Get Married (Guyden 2011)
    1959 - Crazy For You / Down On My Knees (Roulette 4194)

    Unreleased :
    1956 - Be Mine, Be Mine (Hull)
    1956 - Hydromatic Drive (Hull)
    1957 - Stars In The Sky (Rama)
    1957 - Tell Me  (Rama)
    1957 - It's All Right (With Me)  (Rama)
    1957 - Have Rock Will Roll  (Rama)
    1957 - Lonely Lover  (Rama)
    1957 - Lovin' Sickness (Gee)
    1957 - Be Mine (Gee)

Lp :
    1960 - A Thousand Miles Away (Roulette R-25107
    A Thousand Miles Away / Everybody's Somebody's Fool / Crazy For You / After New Year's Eve / One Day Next Year / I Found A Job / I Want To Know  / Sometimes I Wonder / Down On My Knees / Lonely Lover / It's All Right (With Me) / Have Rock, Will Roll

    The Heartbeats (2)


    Biography :

    This doo-wop vocal quartet was formed in Queens, New York, USA, in 1954, originally named simply the Hearts. Three of the band members, Albert Crump (lead), Wally Roker (bass) and Vernon Sievers (baritone), met while attending Woodrow Wilson High School. They completed the line-up with Robbie Tatum from a neighbouring school. They acquired a new lead in the shape of James Sheppard (c.1936, Queens, New York, USA; d. 24 January 1970, Long Island, New York, USA) and Crump then sang first tenor.

    The group made their recording debut on Philadelphia’s Network Records with Sheppard’s ‘Tormented’. Receiving scant promotion, it brought the group little exposure and fewer sales. More productive would be a liaison with Hull Records. This began in September 1955 with ‘Crazy For You’, a strong regional seller, and continued with ‘Darling How Long’ in February of the following year.


    One of the most fondly remembered records of the whole doo-wop era, ‘Your Way’, like all their previous releases was written by Sheppard. Though it did not chart at the time, it has subsequently become one of the most popular songs of the period.

    Their star rising, the Heartbeats’ next recording was ‘Oh Baby Don’t’, but it sold mainly on the strength of Sheppard’s plangent b-side composition, ‘A Thousand Miles Away’. This quickly became a nationwide hit, peaking at number 53 in the Billboard charts. The Heartbeats sought to confirm their popularity with nationwide tours in the company of Ray Charles, B.B. King and others.


    After a publishing dispute with Hull Records, the Heartbeats’ next single emerged on Rama Records in 1957. ‘I Won’t Be The Fool Anymore’ was followed by ‘Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool’, which returned them to the lower reaches of the charts. Spells at Gee and Roulette Records (two singles each) preceded the band’s break-up in 1958, at which time the members divided into two factions.

    The Heartbeats (2)

    The rest of the band were allegedly none too impressed when Sheppard fell asleep at the microphone one night in Philadelphia, and other bouts of unshackled egotism exacerbated the situation.The momentum was lost, and all bar Sheppard returned to regular employment.


    Their erstwhile lead put together Shep And The Limelites, who released a number of singles, though only one, ‘Daddy’s Home’, enjoyed major success (US number 2 in 1961). Sheppard was found dead in January 1970 after being shot and robbed. The four surviving members of the Heartbeats reunited in December 2003 to celebrate their 50th anniversary.



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