• The Nitecaps (1)
    Back row. l to r. Bob Hamilton, Eugene Hamilton, Billy Copeland. Front. Freddy Pride.

    The Nitecaps (1) (Detroit, MI)

    Personnel :

    Al Hamilton (Al Kent) (Lead)

    Eugene Ronald Hamilton (Ronnie Savoy)

    Robert Hamilton (Rob Reeco)

    Freddie Pride

    Discography :

    Singles :
    1955 - A Kiss And A Vow / Be My Girl (Groove 0134)
    1955 - Sweet Thing / Tough Mama (Groove 0147)
    1956 - You May Not Know / Bamboo Rock And Roll (Groove 0158)
    1956 - In Each Corner Of My Heart / Let Me Know Tonight (Groove 0176)

    Unreleased :
    1956 - Snap Crackle And Pop (Groove)
    1956 - You're Gonna Be Sorry  (Groove)
    1956 - Oh, You Sweet Girl (Groove)

    Biography :

    Ronnie Savoy had been living in New York since `57', singing lead with a group called the Nitecaps, Freddy Pride, Billy Kopeland, Thomas Davis, and Ronnie Savoy. The group had pretty much dissolved by 1960. After the group broke up due to personality differences. The Nitecaps was one of the three groups that metamorphosed from the original group the Comets, that started on the unabashed streets of Detroit's North End side at 2128 Meade Street, not far from the 6 Mile Projects, north, and Hamtramck to the south slightly infringing borders of Highland Park, where Bobby Reeco Hamilton, Eugene G.G. Capers, Johnny Braxton, Billy Kopeland, and Ronnie Savoy started a group called the Comets with Bobby as their Maestro.

       The Nitecaps (1)
    The Versatiles : Tom Davis, Bobby Hamilton, Freddy Pride & Ronnie Savoy (Lead)

    The Comets had three lead tenors with very different and original styles. A group primed for cross-over music where any and all rhythm and blues forms had to go in order to reach the Pop Charts. The Promise land. Ronnie Savoy's mint tone clear tenor voice was his strong point, but the postscript to his singing style was illuminated in his enunciation, every word noteworthy of the emphasis he bestowed on each particular syllable and phrase. For example, the execution of “Just a Kiss And A Vow” by the Nitecaps, every line so distinctly understood, his influence clearly a throw-back to the days of Nat King Cole and Bill Kenny of the Ink Spot's.  But the ambiguities of the music business took its toll, and soon Eugene G.G. Capers along with Johnny Braxton departed for jobs in the automotive factories, replacing them with Freddy Pride [baretone] and Thomas Davis [bass], then to form the Versatiles.

    The Nitecaps (1)
    The Nitecaps at The Fox Theater : Freddie Pride , Billy Kope, Ronnie Savoy & Tom Davis

    Bobby Hamilton had dropped the named the Versatiles along with guitarist Arnold Christian, added Billy Kopeland and called the new group, the Nitecaps. The Nitecaps group were in the limelights for years. There parvenu excursions took them throughout the country performing nightly where they were a stable diet of entertainment at the fabulous Cotton Club in New York appearing with the one and only master Cab Callaway and sharing the top billing at the Baby Grand Night Club in Harlem with the combustible Nipsy Russell. The Nitecaps music proceeded doo-wop, ran concurrent with blues ballads for awhile and found a comfortable and esteemed place on the popular music scene , churning out record after record until they rubbed shoulders of high accolades with the Mills Brothers, and the Ink Spots, the Trinaire Brothers and the likes. But it was bass singer Thomas `Bull Yellar' Davis that evolved the group with special renditions from r&b to different popular music styles comprised under the umbrella of old standards. 

    The Nitecaps (1)   
    Ronnie Savoy, Tom Davis, Freddie Pride & Billy Kope                                                          

    Two months after signing on the dotted line with Al Green as their personal manager  the Nitecaps recorded their very first song “A Kiss And A Vow ” with Groove Records, a subsidiary of RCA Records introduced in 1954.  The Nitecaps were the first rhythm and blues group in the country to appear on national syndicated television for the Robert Montgomery variety show in New York City`55'.  They tried to sound more pop-orientated and 'modern' especially with the jump tunes from their first November 1955 session for Groove. “A Kiss And A Vow“ resembles The Orioles' ballad style, most likely because of Ronnie’s tenor voice that had the same high soulful feeling as Clyde MacPhatter’s.

    "With Snap, Crackle And Pop“ and “Your’re Gonna Be Sorry“ from their second session, they gave us two distinctive jump tunes of the same musical quality. The vocal background on “Snap, Crackle And Pop“ can hear the group singing the sort of nonsense syllables 'doo-Wop', which later gave this music it's name. “Bamboo Rock And Roll“  from their third single fits exactly into the Ling Ting Tong theme popular two years before, “while You May Not Know“ is a ballad par excellence.

    The Nitecaps (1)
    Ralph "Crow Peterson", Ronnie Savoy, Freddie Pride ,  Tom Davis & Billy Kope

    The sound of the third and last session did not change much towards songs popular at the fall of 1956,  “In Each Corner Of My Heart“ delights much the same way as some Dominoes’ releases, with a heavy bass break and a high tenor. On the fourth song from this session they backed Varetta Dillard. From all the four fantastic releases on Groove, only two “A Kiss And A Vow“ and “Bamboo Rock And Roll“ entered a fen local charts. Nevertheless, the Nitecaps must have been popular for some time, because Otis Williams (of Detroit’s Temptations) remembered having seen them live.


    Of the Hamilton brothers, Al is well known to soul music fans as Al kent, a name under that he entered both the R&B and pop charts with You Gotta Pay The Price on Ric Tic in 1967. When The Nitecaps broke up, he went to New York with his brother Ronnie to study music. He returned to Detroit in 1961, and then started working for Golden World Records. Later he dealt with a lot of artists on the Ric Tic and Westbound labels and also wrote for Edwin Starr and Jackie Wilson. Ronnie, who sometimes appeared under the pseudonym of Ronnie Savoy, had later success with MGM Records, before he produced Ben E. King.

    Custodians of the Hummingbird


    Songs :

    A Kiss And A Vow              Be My Girl                  You May Not Know

    Bamboo Rock And Roll                   Sweet Thing                         Tough Mama           

    In Each Corner Of My Heart          Let Me Know Tonight              Snap Crackle And Pop    

    You're Gonna Be Sorry             Oh, You Sweet Girl   



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