outstanding West Coast vocal group -

     first recorded with "Little" Esther Phillips, 1949

 The Orioles had a bluesy sound from the beginning, although many of their song choices showed

Mills Brothers pop influence. "It's Too Soon To Know" (1948) was soulful and gospel influenced,

while the flip, "Barbara Lee" was definitely pop.

Overall, Sonny Til and The Orioles kept their direct and emotional delivery throughout a long and respectable career. 

Sonny Til was the first of the handsome young crooners in R&B group music. His vocals carried every record, he was a communicator who moved his audiences and influenced most of the balladeers of the time.

​(on my Jukebox page)

Seriously respected by fans and other R&B artists!

The Robins

(The Coasters)

The Five Royals

The Moonglows

The Flamingos

The Moonglows

with Harvey Fuqua, Bobby Lester, Prentiss Barnes, Pete Graves


BILLY WARD and The Dominoes


Hank Ballard and The Midnighters

Henry Moore, tenor sax

Pat Patterson,  trumpet

The Drifters
1959-1960

"Up On The Roof," "On Broadway" (and others)  Rudy Lewis, lead (died 1964)

"Under The Boardwalk," "Saturday Night At The Movies" (and others)

Johnny Moore, lead

Ben E. King, lead

"There Goes My Baby"

"This Magic Moment"

"Save The Last Dance For Me" and many others

"Fools Fall In Love"

"Ruby Baby" (Johnny Moore, lead)

The Drifters

1961-1966

The Dominoes with Jackie Wilson

Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters (1953-1954)

The Ravens (Jimmy Ricks, lead and bass)

The Midnighters - 40+ releases ​on King Records, 1954-1962

including "Sexy Ways" and "Annie Had A Baby"


Doing "The Twist"  (written by Hank Ballard, 1959) more chart action to come between 1959 and 1962

Hank Ballard welcomes you to an adventure in "risky blues" ...

 The Royals (Midnighters) on Federal Records perform 

"Get It," "Work With Me Annie," "I Feel That Away"

(and other hits ​banned from AM radio!)


Began in 1948 as The Royal Sons (from Winston Salem, NC) with "Bedside of a Neighbor."  

Moved to APOLLO Records and secular music in '52. Signed with King in '54 for a 10-year run.

All Five Royals songs were written by guitarist/leader Lowman Pauling.  Ray Charles and James Brown were fans, recording covers of Five Royals' records.

The Shirelles had a million seller in 1960 with the Lowman Pauling song, "This Is Dedicated To The One I Love." 

Eric Clapton and Steve Cropper claim Lowman Pauling's aggressive lead guitar was a major influence.

"My Sugar is So Refined"

"Ole Man River"

"Count Every Star"

"Rickys Blues"

"Green Eyes"

60 Releases between 1946 and 1956!


1946 - 1954 gave birth to dramatically new sounds in black music and the 10 most influential R&B  groups of the Golden Age.

​​​The Ravens                

The Midnighters

The Orioles                 

The Drifters                

The Clovers                  

The Dominos                

The Inkspots    1936 to early 1950's

most famous song  "If I Didn't Care" featuring Bill Kinney and "Hoppy" Jones (1939)  

30 hit records during the 1940's,  including "We Three" and "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire"  

six #1 records, many releases in the top 10

"Paper Doll" sold six million records in 1943!  

"You Always Hurt The One You Love,"

"Opus One," "Glow Worm,"  "Cab Driver"

and many more


Their career lasted 60 years. The Mills Brothers were the first black entertainers to have a network radio show (NBC, 1930!). 

They did scores of TV guest appearances in the 50's thru the 70's.

Mills Brothers, photo 1955

The Mills Brothers, early 1930's

The 1930's produced The Mills Brothers and The Inkspots -

the daddys of all the R&B vocal groups to follow


IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS GOSPEL, BLUES, and SWING...

The Art of Rockabilly

A Thousand Miles Away

​​A Thousand Miles Away

  • How'm I Doin', Hey, Hey2:03
  • My Prayer 3:19
  • Ole Man River2:59
  • Who's Sorry Now2:43
  • Safronia B 2:23
  • I'd Be Satisfied2:24
  • These Foolish Things2:54
  • All Righty! 2:14
  • My Heart's The Biggest Fool2:50
  • Lovey Dovey2:45
  • Miss Fannie2:27
  • Green Eyes2:15
  • Golden Teardrops3:15
  • I Didn't Want To Do It 2:43
  • The Real Thing (Pauling)2:10

The Five Keys

The Clovers

perhaps the most important R&B Vocal group of the 1950s


first few years helped define the R&B vocal sound for a decade!

great writing and production

(Ertegun, Wexler, Jesse Stone, Leiber and Stoller)

hits in 1950-1960:  

"Don't You Know"

 "One Mint Julep"   "Your Cash Ain't Nothin But Trash"  "Lovey Dovey"    "Little Mama"    "Crawlin"

"Good Lovin"    "Blue Velvet"    "Nip Sip"

 "Devil or Angel"    "Love Potion #9"

The Robins 

Harvey Fuqua said that The Moonglows (aka, The Crazy Sounds) started in '53 as a jazz group singing

standards and jazz tunes in the syle known as "vocalese" (voices take the sax, flute, or trumpet parts).

       That led to their special vocal technique called blow harmony.

The Moonglows started as jazz singers and ended up the black kings of the rock and roll ballad.

Another "Twist" fact:

The song goes back to the 1800's.

Around 1915, Jelly Roll Mortan sang, "Mama Mama look at Sis, she's out on the levee doing the double twist!"

It is said that a singer from The Sensational Nightingales (a famous gospel group) gave "The Twist" to Pookey Hudson of The Spaniels who had to turn it down because it was considered too risqué.

The Midnighters were next in line!

Hank Ballard and the Midnighters weren't the only ones "gettin down" in the R&B world of the early '50s...

                                                             check out The Swallows'​ 1951 hit

"It ain't the meat it's motion, that makes your daddy wanta rock;

        It ain't the meat it's the motion, it's the movement that gives it the sock!"   (Henry Glover, 1951)

​​Gospel and R&B  

The Five Royals were the link to Soul

​​​The Five Royals!

 



They had some fine records: 

"The Turkey Hop" 

"Double Crossin' Blues"

but their claim to fame may be adding

Carl Gardner in 1953, then morphing into

The Coasters

under famed writers and producers

Leiber and Stoller.


The Robins, produced by

Lieber and Stoller ('54-'55)

on the Spark label, Los Angeles: 

"Riot In Cell Block #9"

"Framed"

"One Kiss Led To Another"

"I Must Be Dreamin'"

"Smokey Joe's Cafe"


In 1956 The Coasters were formed:

Carl Gardner, Billy Guy, Leon Hughes

and original Robin, Bobby Nunn

"Down In Mexico"  

"Turtle Dovin"

"Idol With The Golden Head"

"Searchin"

(their first ATCO records)


50+ releases in their days on ATCO


30 chart records from 1950-1960

the highly influential Clyde McPhatter

with Charley White (1948)


Gospel singers before they joined Billy Ward and The​ Dominoes in 1950

("Sixty Minute Man" released in 1951)

"Sixty Minute Man"

"Have Mercy Baby"     "The Bells"

 ​"Rags To Riches" (1953)

The Orioles, 1950

"It's Too Soon To Know" 1948

"Crying In The Chapel" 1953

50 singles released from 1948-1956


The Drifters vocals

always tasty and soulful


from the leads by the one and only Clyde McPhatter, to Bill Pinckney, Johnny Moore, Ben E. King,

Charley Thomas and Rudy Lewis


Golden nuggets include:

"Let The Boogie Woogie Roll" (Clyde)

"I Should Have Done Right" (Bill Pinckney)

... any Ben E. King, Rudy Lewis and Johnny Moore leads


The Flamingos

"Too Much Of A Little Bit," "Crazy, Crazy, Crazy," "Baby Don't Do It"   1952-1953

"Monkey Hips And Rice," "Think," "Dedicated To The One I Love," "Right Around The Corner," "Tell The Truth," "The Real Thing"   1955-59

"I'm With You All The Way"   1960

"Don't Let That Teardrop Hit The Ground"   1964


"Secret Love" 1953

"Sincerely," "Most Of All" 1954

"In My Diary," "See Saw," "Over and Over Again" 1956

"Please Send Me Someone To Love" 1957

"Ten Commandments Of Love"  1958

​"Honey Love"


         "Let The Boogie Woogie Roll"

                   "Money Honey"


​"White Christmas"

Alonzo Tucker Henry Booth Charles Sutton Sonny Woods Hank Ballard

The Royals/Midnighters (with Hank Ballard) 1953

Sample some of these groovy historic recordings...


There are a few surprises, like the first uncharacteristic song by The Mills Brothers. From their 1934 movie appearance in "20 Million Sweethearts" with Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers, it's Don Redmond's "How'm I Doin', Hey Hey" (Sadie Green from New Orleans!).  What is so extraordinary about this cut? Every time I think it just sounds like a Betty Boop cartoon I am jolted by the exactness of the voices, harmony and rhythm, and the charming and effortless delivery. Four men and a guitar - no other instruments!


From 1939, The Ink Spots  do the original vocal group version of "My Prayer."

(The Platters didn't change it much in their 1955 hit.)  The Ink Spots were very successful with their "high and low format" - tenor lead with bass recitation. 


Jimmy Ricks and The Ravens  were the first R&B stars of the post-war years (they began in 1946). A talented harmony group with jazz chops. Presented here are "Ole Man River" (1947) and "Green Eyes."  Jimmy Ricks was the smooth bass/lead singer.

His last gig was as a jazz vocalist with the Count Basie Band in the 1960's.


CheckThe Robins  tune from 1951, "My Heart's The Biggest  Fool," written and arranged by Johnny Otis.  Sound like "Harlem Nocturne"? Otis, the writer of this Robins' tune, had a big band jazz hit with "Harlem Nocturne" in 1945.  


Clyde McPhatter  and The Dominoes  "Sixty Minute Man" was released in 1951. 

"I'd Be Satisfied" and "These Foolish Things" were released in 1952. Clyde formed The Drifters the following year. He was only with The Drifters for two years, but a number of hits were produced. Clyde McPhatter was one of the greatest lead singers R&B would ever know.


You can find  Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters ('51-'53) on my jukebox page.


The Five Royals were "The Real Thing" (Lowman Pauling, 1959) and one of the biggest draws at The Apollo during the 1950's and early '60s. They maintained their standards; they sang the blues on every record!


​​The Spiders  The top New Orleans R&B group, led by Chuck and Chick Carbo.

They had many great records: "I'm Slippin' In," "The Real Thing," "Witchcraft," "Bells In My Heart," and "I Didn't Want To Do It."

Rare Photo!

"If I Can't Have You"    "Golden Teardrops"   1953

"Dream Of A Lifetime"    "I Really Don't Want To Know"   1954

"I'll Be Home"     "A Kiss From Your Lips"    "Would I Be Crying?"   1956 

"Lovers Never Say Goodbye"     "I Only Have Eyes For You"   1958

"Love Walked In"   1959

"Nobody Loves Me Like You" (Sam Cook,  a big fan, wrote this chart-topper for The Flamingos in 1960)

"Time Was"   1961

30 Top 100 records from 1953-1963

The most distinctive vocal harmony group in 50's R&B!