The Belairs (5) aka The Four Bel-Aires (1)
The Belairs (5) (Georgetown, D.C.)
aka The Four Bel-Aires (1)
Alfred "Nookie" Robinson (First Tenor)
Warren Ricks (Second Tenor)
Robert "Slick" Russell (Bariton)
Vernon Ricks (Bass)
The Four Bel-Aires (1)
1958 - Where Are You / Tell Me Why (X-tra 113)
The Belairs (5)
1963 - Where Are You / Tell Me Why (Time SQ 23)
The start of the 4 Bel-Aires was at the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, in Georgetown, D.C. There, in 1955, bass Vernon Ricks and baritone Robert "Slick" Russell started harmonizing on R&B songs when they worked in the kitchen on Sunday mornings. They were eventually joined by first tenor Alfred "Nookie" Robinson (whose name is usually shown, incorrectly, as "Albert").
Finally, when they sounded like they had a shot at fame and fortune, Vernon brought in his cousin, second tenor Warren Ricks, and the 4 Bel-Aires were born. Although there were only four singers, a fifth member was guitarist Mike Jackson. The guys ranged in age from 13 (Warren) to 21 (Alfred).
There was a local Saturday evening radio program in D.C. called Teenarama (on WOOK, 1340 AM; this was before it moved to TV in 1963). A couple of teenagers (Calvin Hackett and Marjorie Bowman) acted as DJs, spinning hit records and inviting local groups to perform. Sometime around late 1957, the invitation was extended to the 4 Bel-Aires (who sang their arrangement of the Mello-Moods' "Where Are You"). Their singing impressed the "adult" member of Teenarama, Al "Big Boy" Jefferson, a DJ who had a nightly WOOK show, broadcast from the front window of Waxie Maxie Silverman's Quality Music store (located around the corner from the Howard Theater).
In 1962, Ben Smith sold all his X-Tra masters to Slim Rose of Times Square Records. That's the reason that "Where Are You" and "Tell Me Why" appeared on Times Square in November 1963 (although the group was listed as the "Belairs").
Where Are You Tell Me Why
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