Top : Oscar Boyd, James Denis Isaac, Georges Parker - Bottom : John Pruit , Nathaniel Tucker.
The Sheppards (1) (Chicago)
John Pruit (Lead)
James Denis "Brother" Isaac (First Tenor)
Oscar Boyd (Second Tenor)
Georges Parker (Baritone)
Nathaniel Tucker (Bass)
1955 - Love / Cool Manbo (Theron 112)
1956 - Sherry / Mozelle (United 198 / B&F 198)
1956 - Pretty little girl (United)
1956 - Just Let Me Love You (United)
The group as originally formed was known as the Cavaliers. They got together in late 1953 and were organized by Andre Williams (who later won renown for his novelty numbers "Bacon Fat" and "Jail Bait" and for his work as a producer). The rest of the group came out of DuSable and Tilden Tech high schools on the South Side and consisted of John Pruitt (first tenor and lead), Albert "Pee Wee " Bell (baritone), Nathaniel Tucker (bass), and James Dennis "Brother" Isaac (second tenor and lead). Williams sang baritone, but his principal contribution was to devise various choreographed routines for the group. He was considered the group's "clown.
The Cavaliers regularly got together at the corner of Fifty-second and Indiana to rehearse and to compete against other vocal groups. This went on for more than a year, and then Williams left the group. He was replaced by Oscar Robinson, a baritone. Robinson had come out of another Chicago ensemble, the Five Thrills, who had already recorded for Parrot. By 1955 the Cavaliers had graduated from being street-corner harmonizers to being real professionals. They were playing teenage hops and such clubs as Martin's Corner, Joe's Deluxe Club, the State Lounge, and the Trianon Ballroom. Eventually a relationship with the pianist Earl Washington and the independent producer Bill Sheppard was established. Then Albert Bell and Oscar Robinson were replaced with George "Sonny" Parker and Oscar Boyd, respectively, and the Sheppards were born. In 1955 they put out "Love" backed with "Cool Mambo" on Connie Toole's Theron label. "Love" flopped, but a second opportunity for the Sheppards came in February 1956, when they recorded "Mozelle" and "Sherry" for United.
The other Sheppards of "Island of Love" with James Denis Isaac (Third from right)
"Mozelle" garnered considerable local radio play, so the group enjoyed a degree of celebrity in the Midwest. The Sheppards translated their recording success, such as it was, into an engagement at Club Delisa. They also parlayed a tour from the songs, playing numerous cities in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee with a group of chorus girls and the blues singer Tiny Topsy. Two other songs at the "Mozelle" session were recorded but not released. Around 1957, after Pruitt and Tucker were drafted and Boyd dropped out because he was going blind from a cataract condition, the Sheppards broke up. Isaac eventually drifted into another South Side group called the Bel Aires, a group that did one record and then was forced to split. Three of the Bel Aires, including Isaac, then became a part of yet another group, in 1959. The group? It was the Sheppards, of "Island of Love" fame.
Doowop: The Chicago Scene (Robert Pruter)
Love / Cool Manbo Sherry
Mozelle Pretty Little Girl
Just Let Me Love You