• 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


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