The Vibes (1) aka The Vibranaires
The Vibranaires (1954) Clockwise from top : Bobby Thomas, Herb Cole, Roosevelt McDuffie, Mike Robinson & Jimmy Roache
The Vibes (1) (Asbury Park, New Jersey)
aka The Vibranaires
Bobby Thomas (Lead Tenor)
Roosevelt McDuffie (First Tenor)
Lenny Welch (Second Tenor)
William Penha (Baritone)
Joe Major (Bass)
The Vibes (1)
1954 - Stop Torturing Me / Stop Jiving Baby ( Chariot 105)
1954 - Doll Face / Ooh, I Feel So Good (After Hours 103)
Asbury Park, NJ-based R&B vocal group the Vibranaires formed in 1948. According to Marv Goldberg's profile in the September 1975 issue of Yesterday's Memories, the group was founded by lead tenor Bobby Thomas, a devout Orioles fan who modeled his vocals after the group's leader, Sonny Til. Baritone Herbie Cole (the nephew of drummer Cozy Cole), first tenor Ulysses Jackson, second tenor Albert Smith, and bass Willie Busby completed the original lineup, which at first operated as the Crooners. By 1950, only Thomas and Cole remained, with first tenor Roosevelt McDuffie, second tenor Mike Robinson, and bass Jimmy Roache filling the holes; Roache's amplified voice was reportedly so powerful it shook the walls, prompting a name change to the Vibranaires.
The Vibes (1956) L to R : Bobby Thomas, Lenny Welch, Joe Major & William Penha
For a short time in 1953 the group worked with manager and songwriter Esther Navarro, who insisted on another name change, this time to the Cadillacs -- a demo was recorded but when an official release failed to materialize, the Vibranaires terminated their partnership. In the meantime, the Vibranaires continued performing in New Jersey clubs, befriending Newark station WNJR DJ Joel Turnero, who in turn introduced the group to After Hours label owner Lexy "Flap" Hanford. On the eve of their first session for the label, Cole was arrested for stealing a bass guitar from a local club. He remained in jail while the remaining Vibranaires entered the studio, forcing them to create impromptu arrangements to work around his absence.
The Vibes (1956) Top L to R : Roosevelt McDuffie, Bobby Thomas, Lenny Welch Bottom L to R : William Penha & Joe Major
"Doll Face" appeared on After Hours in the summer of 1954, selling close to 40,000 copies in the face of minimal promotion. For the follow-up, "Stop Torturing Me," issued on Hanford's Chariot imprint, the group changed its name to the Vibes -- the shift may have resulted in the disc's disappointing sales, which prompted Hanford to cut them loose soon after. The Vibes rebounded by signing with promoter Bobby McNeil and touring the so-called "chitlin circuit" of black-owned nightclubs and theaters.
The Vibranaires (1964) - Top : Harry Accoo, Roosevelt McDuffie, Bobby Young - Bottom : Bobby Thomas
Roache was drafted in 1955, setting off a series of personnel changes that included the brief inclusion of Lenny Welch, who notched the solo hit "Since I Fell for You" in 1963. When Thomas was also drafted for military duty in 1958, the Vibes finally called it quits, although he and McDuffie later reunited in the V-Eights. In 1966, Thomas' wish was granted -- he finally joined his beloved Orioles, touring with latter-day incarnations of the group for over three decades.
The Vibes (1)
Stop Torturing Me Stop Jiving Baby
Doll Face Ooh, I Feel So Good
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