•  Norman Fox & The Rob Roys aka The Tradewinds (4)

    Norman Fox & The Rob Roys (Bronx, New-York)
    aka The Tradewinds (4)


    Personnel :

    Norman Fox (Lead)

    Bob Trotman (First Tenor)

    Andre Lilly (Second Tenor)

    Robert Thierer (Baritone)

    Marshall "Buzzy" Helfland (Bass)


    Discography :

    The Rob-Roys
    1957 - Tell Me Why / Audrey (Backbeat 501)

    Norman Fox & The Rob-Roys
    1958 - Dance Girl Dance / My Dearest One (Backbeat 508)

    1959 - Dream Girl / Pizza Pie (Capitol 4128)
    1988 - Lover doll / Little Star (Backbeat 499)
    1988 - Rainy Day Bells / That's love (Backbeat 500)

    1990 - Do Re Mi / Lover Doll (Backbeat 501)

    The Tradewinds (4)
    1962 - Aggravation  (Time)
    1962 - Lonely Boy (Time)


    Biography :

    One of the earliest interracial quintets, Norman Fox & The Rob-Roys were also one of the most underrated and overlooked groups ever to cut a 45.  With his distinctive lead voice, Norman Fox (16) of the Bronx hooked up with DeWitt Clinton High School friends Robert Thierer (17, baritone), Marshall "Buzzy" Helfand (17, bass), Bob Trotman (16, first tenor) and Andre Lilly (16, second tenor) in 1956 to form a dynamic vocal mix with their Jewish/black coalition (Trotman and Lilly were originally members of the Harmonaires on Holiday.) Early in 1957 Bob Trotman met Don Carter, New York agent for the Duke/Peacock organization, at Buddy's Record Shop on 167th Street in the Bronx, and told him of their group.  After a live audition in that very same record store, the Bronx boys found themselves contracted to the Texas-based record label. Originally called the Velvetones, they changed their name to the Rob-Roys (after the drink) and recorded their first single for Peacock's new Backbeat affiliate in April 1957 at Bell Sound Studios.


    Tell Me Why" came out in the summer of 1957.  The single was well received by East Coast radio stations (particularly in New York and Philadelphia), but it was obvious that the gospel conglomerate had no idea of how to market rock and roll. The Rob-Roys turned out to be Backbeat's first integrated group (Fox, Helfand and Thierer were white, Lilly and Trotman black), but they performed at Harlem clubs to the surprise and delight of patrons lucky enough to see them.  For the most part they played New York area record hops with deejays like Jocko while waiting for their next release, the Robert Thierer-Bob Trotman dance doo wop classic, "Dance Girl Dance."

     Norman Fox & The Rob Roys aka The Tradewinds (4)


    In late 1958 the group, weary of lost records, brought two Norman Fox originals to Capitol Records.  They signed the group and issued "Pizza Pie" b/w "Dream Girl" in January 1959.  Paul Schneller (another white Jewish bass) replaced Helfand on bass just before the Capitol sides were recorded. On January 19th, Billboard reviewed "Pizza Pie," stating "a rocker slightly dated in sound and approach, but the side is well made, the boys handle it nicely and the novelty interest is there.  It ties the story of a lifetime in with a pizza pie.  This could catch a spin."  The minute the record came out, Don Robey of Backbeat showed up waving a still-valid contract with the Rob-Roys.  Capitol chose to pull the single before it reached most radio stations. In 1962 Fox and company did two sides, Aggravation" and "Lonely Boy under the name of the Tradewinds," for Bob Shad's Time label, but they were never issued.

    Songs :

    Norman Fox & The Rob Roys

    Tell Me Why                             Audrey                      Dance Girl Dance

    My Dearest One                      Dream Girl                         Pizza Pie

    Lover doll                           Rainy Day Bells                        That's love

    Do Re Mi

    The Tradewinds (4)

    Aggravation                           Lonely Boy



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