The Vocal-Teens (New Jersey)
Henry Mays (Lead)
Frederick Worrell (Bass)
Michael Dennis Kelly
Charles "Cator" Brooks
1972 (58) - Be A Slave / Till Then (Downstairs 1000)
1962 - When A Man Cries / Find Me ( Philips 40046)
Mike Kelly had music in his blood from a young age, he fronted a black vocal group of his own called the Vocal-Teens while still in high school. The group recorded two demo sides in 1958/59. The Vocal Teens made pop music that was heavily informed by doo-wop. But while the Duprees reached for a cinematic sound indebted to pre-rock sources (and cut updated versions of many songs that were famous before the rock era began), Kelly’s first group had a rougher edge. “Be a Slave,” a love song Mike Kelly wrote (and sang) at the age of fourteen for the Vocal Teens, was sweetened by strings. Unfortunately the two sides will not be released before 1972 on Downstairs Records
The Vocal Teens opened doors for Mike Kelly and one of the people he got to know, Joseph "Joey Vann" Canzano, was the original lead singer for the Duprees. When Vann left the group for a short time in 1961, Kelly was brought in to sing lead, something he did on a number of demo records used to get the group a recording contract. Unfortunately, before the group hit it big, Kelly left for a solo career and Vann returned to score hits with the Duprees on You Belong to Me, My Own True Love, Have You Heard and a number of others.
The Duprees (Mike On Left)
By 1964 when Vann left the group again and Kelly was brought in as the permanent lead singer, the time of the group's biggest success was past. Kelly did stick with the group for the next 13 years as they tried to reinvent themselves for a new generation. While they never made it back to the top 40, they did find some success on the oldies circuit.
Be A Slave Till Then
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