• The Showmen

    The Showmen (Norfolk, Virginia)
    (The early Years)

    Personnel :

    General Norman Johnson (Lead)

    Dorsey "Chops" Knight (Second Tenor)

    Gene "Cheater" Knight (First Tenor)

    Leslie "Fat Boy" Felton (Baritone)

    Milton "Smokes" Wells (Bass guitar)


    Discography :

    The Humdingers
    Unreleased :
    1956 - How Could You Forget (Atlantic)
    1956 - One More Kiss (Atlantic)
    1956 - Ride Alone (Atlantic)
    1956 – Papa Lollipop (Atlantic)

    The Showmen
    1961 - It Will Stand / Country Fool (Minit 632/Imperial 66033)
    1962 - The Wrong Girl / Fate Planned It This Way (Minit 643)
    1962 - Com'n Home / I Love You Can't You See (Minit 647)
    1962 - True Fine Mama / The Owl See's You (Minit 654)
    1964 - 39 - 21 - 46 / Swish Fish (Minit 662)
    1964 - Somebody Help Me / Country Fool (Imperial 66071)
    1965 - In Paradise / Take It Baby (Swan 4213)
    1965 - Our Love Will Grow / You're Everything (Swan 4219)

    Carl First & The Showmen
    1964 - I’m Still In Love With You / Mind Your Mamma (Lawn 223)

    Biography :

    The Showmen were one of the R&B groups to bridge the gap between doo wop and soul in the early '60s, creating a buoyant, energetic fusion of harmonies and propulsive R&B beats. The group only had one hit, "It Will Stand," which charted both in 1961 and in 1964, but their lead singer, General Johnson, went on to greater success as the leader of the '70s soul group Chairmen of the Board.

    The Showmen  The Showmen

    General Norman Johnson  and the group had been singing doo wop harmony together in their home town, Norfolk, Virginia, since the mid-'50s when they were barely in their teens and calling themselves The Humdingers. By 1960 their manager, Noah Biggs, had a demo recording made of the group, then consisting of lead singer Johnson, brothers Gene and Dorsey Knight (first and second tenors), baritone Leslie Felton and bass Milton Wells.

    The Showmen

    In 1961, the group signed with Minit Records, which was based in New Orleans. Their first single was a rock & roll anthem, "It Will Stand." Released in the fall of 1961, "It Will Stand" was a hit, particularly on the East Coast and in the New Orleans era, but it only peaked at number 61 on the pop charts. Nevertheless, the song's popularity never decreased and it became a hit three years later, when re-released on the Imperial label. On its second release, the single peaked at number 80 on both the R&B and pop charts.

    The Showmen    The Showmen

    Between the two chart appearances of "It Will Stand," The Showmen kept recording and performing. During this time, they had no national hits, but "39-21-46" became a significant regional hit. In 1965, the group signed with Swan Records, but none of the ensuing singles became hits. In 1968, Johnson left the band and moved to Detroit, where he formed the Chairmen of the Board, who would later have hits with "Give Me Just a Little More Time," "(You've Got Me) Dangling on a String," and "Everything's Tuesday" in the early '70s. In the three decades after the breakup of The Showmen, "It Will Stand" and "39-21-46" remained popular on the East Coast "beach music" scene and Johnson would later return to this area, carving out a living as a local performer.

    Songs :

    The Showmen

    It Will Stand                            Country Fool                            The Wrong Girl

    Fate Planned It This Way           Com 'n Home          I Love You Can't You See

    True Fine Mama              The Owl See's You                  39 - 21 - 46

    Swish Fish                        In Paradise                      Take It Baby

    Our Love Will Grow                 You're Everything


    Carl First & The Showmen

    Mind Your Mama             I'm Still In Love With You



    your comment
  • The Serenades
    Willie Wright

    The Serenades (Chicago)

    Personnel :

    Willie Wright (Lead)

    James "Doolaby" Wright (Bass)

    Willie Daniels (Baritone)

    Tommie Johnson

    Ronald Sherman

    Discography :

    1957 - A Sinner in Love / The Pajama Song (Chief 7002)

    Biography :

    Thei story of The Serenades goes back to Jenner Grade School, where Tommie Johnson, Otha Lee Givens, Terry Collier, Bryan Barlow, and Napoleon Hall formed a group. Tommie Johnson was the brother of Charles Johnson, the bass singer of the Von Gayles. The group graduated to Wells High and soon were playing at parties and talent contests. Johnson then met Willie Wright (aka Willie Dial), who had a group of his own, the Quails.

    The Serenades    The Serenades
    Jerry Butler                                                                                             Willie Wright

    The story of the Quails goes back to the famed soul singer Jerry Butler, before he was a part of the Impressions. While still attending Washburne Trade, he and his classmates formed a group called the Quails. The other members were Willie Wright; his brother, James "Doolaby" Wright; and Ronald Sherman, the latter who used to fill in for missing members of the Von Gayles. Butler left the group when he had to drop out of school to go to work. the Serenades. Members of the Serenades were lead singer Willie Wright, James "Doolaby" Wright, Willie Daniels, Tommie Johnson, and Ronald Sherman. The Serenades got a contract with Mel London's Chief label in early 1957.

    The Serenades    The Serenades

    The two sides released by the group in March that year were a ballad, "A Sinner in Love," and a jump, "The Pajama Song". The ballad got played on the deejay Sam Evans's show but did little else. Butler vividly remembered "A Sinner in Love" because it credits "Wright" and " Snave" as the writers. "It was my first composition," said Butler. "After I left the group, they recorded it and didn't even put my name on the record. I remember Sam Evans playing it one night, and I said, 'That's my song!' I called the guys up but they were all covering their eyes and feeling ashamed.  The Serenades got a bit of recognition in April 1957 when they appeared on the big Mambo Easter Dance sponsored by three local deejays, McKie Fitzhugh, Big Bill Hill, and Richard Stamz. Other acts on the bill included Paul Bascomb, Tommy "Madman" Jones, Harold Burrage, the Clouds, the Gay Tones, and the Five Echoes. Willie Wright soon left the Serenades and formed The Medallionaires.

    THE CHICAGO SCENE by Robert Pruter




    Songs :

    A Sinner in Love                              The Pajama Song

    your comment

  • Bottom, L-to-R: Connie Bailey, Wiley Trass; Top, L-to-R: Van Pleasants, Ken Pleasants, Fred Hughes

    The Four Rivers  (Oakland, Ca.)

    Personnel :

    Ken Pleasants (Lead)

    Fred Hughes (Lead)

    Wiley Trass

    Connie Bailey

    Discography :

    The Four Rivers
    Single :
    1962 - I Confess / Sooner Or Later  (Josie 901)
    Unreleased :
    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)

    Biography :

    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.

    Songs :
    (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.


    your comment
  • The Trilons

    The Trilons (Brooklyn, New York)

    Personnel :

    Yvonne Bunny (Soprano)

    Discography :

    1962 - I'm The One / Forever (Tag 449)

    Biography :

    The Trilons    The Trilons

    Songs :

    I'm The One                                               Forever      

    your comment
  • The Roulettes (2) aka Billy & the Patios aka The Singing Roulettes
    The Roulettes (2)

    The Roulettes (2)  (Manhattan, New York)
    aka Billy & the Patios aka The Singing Roulettes

    Personnel :

    Billy Galante

    Bobby Galante

    Bobby Wicks

    Victor Points

    Lillie Acosta

    Discography :

    The Roulettes (2)
    1958 - I See A Star / Come On Baby (Champ 102)

    The Singing Roulettes
    1959 - Hasten Jason / Wouldn't Be Going Steady (Scepter 1204)

    Billy & The Patios
    1961 - Love Is A Story / You Name It (Lite 9002)

    Billy Gallant
    1962 - Scribbling On The Wall / Thinking Wishing Hoping (Dee Dee 501)
    1963 - Thinking Wishing Hoping / If You'd Only Be My Love (Goldisc G6)

    Biography :

    Bobby Galante was singing with a group of guys from the neighborhood that included himself, Bobby Wicks and Victor Points. Bobby wanted his brother Billy to write a song for his group. Billy wrote two songs, "I See A Star" and "Come On Baby". Victor Points was supposed to do the lead on "I See A Star", Victor simply froze at the microphone, He would open his mouth but nothing came out.

    The Roulettes (2) aka Billy & the Patios aka The Singing Roulettes   The Roulettes (2) aka Billy & the Patios aka The Singing Roulettes
    Billy at the Arthur Godfrey                                                                       1960 At the Hop with Dick Clark

    They had no choice to quickly find a new lead singer for the song. Billy Galante spoke with Johnny Maestro, who mentioned a girl named Lillie Acosta. She was a stand-in for the Crests and the new lead singer for the group. They booked the Allegro Studios in New York and recorded "I See A Star" and "Come On Baby". Bobby Galante sang lead on the flip. After listening to the record, Florence Greenberg from Champ Records on Broadway signed with them a recording contract. Florence contacted Radio DJ Jocko Henderson to acquaint him with the records.

    The Roulettes (2) aka Billy & the Patios aka The Singing Roulettes
     Contract signing and Autographswith Sal Galante, Bobby Galante, Joan Galante

    The record got significant airplay in the Tri-State area and The Roulettes appeared at records Hops all over New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The record appeared as #55 on the CashBox chart. In 1959, they Waxed their second Records "Hasten Jason" and "Wouldn't Be Going Steady" released on Florence’s new Scepter label. the record didn't stand a chance, Florence Greenberg provided no support for "Hasten Jason".

    The Roulettes (2) aka Billy & the Patios aka The Singing Roulettes
    Billy & The Patios

    Billy Galante decided to continue singing after group broke up. Billy sang lead for the Intros as they played the club circuit in New York and New Jersey. In 1961, Billy wrote "Love Is A Story" and decided to record the song at the regency Studios in New York City. He assembled a group wing included Bobby Wicks, Victor Points and his wife’s Brother, Robert Malfi. They used the name Billy & The Patios because he wanted a new name and a clean slate. The record was put out on the Lite label but again, the record didn’t have a chance. Billy Galante continued as a solo singer under his name & Billy Vance...

    Songs :

    The Roulettes (2)

    I See A Star                                     Come On Baby

    The Singing Roulettes

        Hasten Jason                            Wouldn't Be Going steady

    Billy & The Patios

    Love Is A Story                                     You Name It


    your comment