The La-Rells (Pittsburgh)

    Personnel :

    Frank Avery (Lead)

    Bob Best (First Tenor)

    David Parr (Second Tenor)

    Lafon McKellar (Second Tenor)

    Wilton Anderson (Baritone & Bass)

    Alex Richburg (Guitarist)

    Vann Harris (Drummer)



    The La-Rells
    1961 - Everybody Knew / Please Be Fair (Robee 109)
    1961 - I Just Can't Understand / Public Transportation (Robee 114)
    1962 - I Guess I'll Never Stop Lovin You / Sneaky Alligator (Liberty 55430)
    1991 - Tomorrow Will Only Bring Sorrow / Guess I'll Never Stop (Robee 120)
    1963 - Wish I Stayed In School / Tomorrow Will Only Bring Sorrow (World Artists)

    Geno and Rabbit bb The La-Rells
    1961 - Deep In the Night / Never Before (TeemA 696)

    Biography :

    From the very beginning the La Rells were busy gigging at various shows and record hops throughout the area. But like most groups of the era, they had trouble keeping the players in one place. Frank Avery on lead, Bob Best (first tenor), David Parr (second tenor), Lafon McKellar (second tenor), Wilton Anderson (baritone and bass), Alex Richburg (guitarist) and Vann Harris (drummer) formed the classic La-Rells line up.

    In 1960, KQV DJ Larry Aiken hooked them up with Lennie Martin of Robbee Records. He liked their demo tape, and cut the ballad "Everybody Knew" b/w the up-tempo "Please Be Fair," released as Robbee 109. The song was a big local hit. Their career took off in the region. They did hops and shows for Clark Race, Larry Aiken, Porky Chadwick, Bill Powell, and Sir Walter at places like the Savoy Ballroom, Diamond Roller Rink, White Elephant and Twin Coaches.


    In 1960 they won Bill Powell's prestigious "Pittsburgher" Award.  In 1961, they cut another record, "Public Transportation" b/w "I Just Can't Understand," released as Robbee 114. The music tracks were laid by the Rock 'N' Bluesmen, the La Rell's choice over Martin's house band. Still, it didn't hurt them locally.

     The La-Rells were the first Pittsburgh group to appear on a rock 'n' roll show at the Civic Arena. On October 20, 1961, they were on the same bill with Fats Domino and Brenda Lee. In 1962, the La-Rells signed with Liberty Records and cut "I Guess I'll Never Stop Loving You" b/w "Sneaky Alligator" in the Big Apple (Liberty 55430, reissued as Robbee 120 in 1991.)


    The Liberty session players backing the band were pretty solid. King Curtis was on the sax, and a young Roberta Flack sat in on piano. But the disk received little airplay, and signs of dissension and career frustrations started to bubble up within the group. It didn't help when Bob Best left the band to join the military shortly after the record's release. His place was filled by Ronald Bentley. Then David Parr received his "greetings from Uncle Sam" notice and traded in his microphone for an M-16 in March 1964. His departure was the death knell of the La-Rells.


    Songs :

    Everybody Knew                      Please Be Fair               I Just Can't Understand

    Public Transportation            I Guess I'll Never Stop Lovin You             Tomorrow Will Only Bring Sorrow


    Sneaky Alligator






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