It seems fitting, at this time, for me to go back to my roots. Back in August 1964, the first article I ever wrote ("The Clovers") was published in The Big Beat's Rhythm & Blues Train. That mouthful was the title of the publication of KBBA ("Keep The Big Beat Alive"), a New York-based organization that claimed, in that issue, to have 300 members.
We all try to grow as we trek down the muddy road of life. I don't know how I'm doing in many areas, but as far as writing goes, I know I've come a long way, and this is the proof. Here's my first piece, as it originally appeared, with an almost criminal lack of content; judge for yourselves.
The Clovers, one of the truly great names in R&B, started singing while in HS in Washington, DC. According to Bill Board, they "cut a couple of sides" for Rainbow in 1950. The 1st (?) of these was "Yes Sir, That's My Baby"/"When You Come Back To Me."
In 1951, under the guidance of manager Lou Krefetz, the boys signed with Atlantic Records. Their first sound, "Skylark" sold almost 250,000 copies (even tho the flip was the big side). Their next effort, "Fool, Fool, Fool" doubled this figure.
The Clovers were big attractions on all theater tours, but were especially big at Harlem's Apollo Theater in the early '50s.
They stayed with Atlantic until 1958, when they moved to United Artists, where they cut such great sounds as "Love Potion #9" and "Lovey."
The members of the group are: John "Buddy" Bailey, Harold Winley, Mathew McQuater, Harold "Hal" Lucas, and Bill Harris.
And that was it. The (at that time) 14-year career of the most successful vocal group of the first half of the 1950s reduced to nine sentences in five paragraphs! I think I'm gonna be ill.
The discography that accompanied this scholarly work, although it only had their Atlantic releases, was remarkably complete, except for not giving a title for the flip of "Wishing For Your Love" and leaving out the 1961 release, "The Bootie Green"/"Drive It Home" entirely.
I'll tell you a secret: the extensive "research" that I did for that piece was to go to a record store, read what was written on the back of both the Atlantic albums (The Clovers and Dance Party), and scribble down some notes. I then went home, sat down at my Royal "word processor" (you know, the kind where the keys got stuck if you typed too fast - never my problem, by the way) and attempted to write an in-depth article. What I find fascinating is that I parrotted back the five names that accompanied the liner notes without noticing that there were six guys in the photo on the album cover (for some reason, Atlantic declined to mention Billy Mitchell). Hey, don't laugh, we all have to start somewhere.