AUTHOR'S NOTE: The following was written, with Marcia Vance, in 1976 for Moonglows, part of the Chess Rock 'n' Rhythm Series. Since it was for a mass-market LP, I guess it didn't have to be all that detailed.
It's hard to imagine a pioneer R&B group being born in Louisville, Kentucky. One group was, and they are among the top-rated groups of all time: the Moonglows.
Their start was a modest one. Bobby Lester and Harvey Fuqua (nephew of Ink Spots' guitarist Charlie Fuqua) made the rounds of Louisville's amateur shows, with Bobby singing and Harvey accompanying him on piano. Getting nowhere fast, they drove up to Cleveland in early 1951 and started putting a group together. Called at first the "Crazy Sounds," the group also featured bass Prentiss Barnes, high tenor Alexander "Pete" Graves, and guitarist Billy Johnson.
In 1952, they hooked up with a rising Cleveland disc jockey, Alan Freed, and he recorded the group, which by now had been renamed the Moonglows, on his Champagne label. However, Champagne didn't work out too well and in 1953, Freed set them up with Art Sheridan and Steve Chandler's Chance Records in Chicago. They had some moderate hits in a raw street corner style, including a cover version of Doris Day's "Secret Love."
Somewhat before the demise of Chance, the Moonglows had met Phil Chess, and in 1954 they sought him out again. The Moonglows were not the first R&B group on the label - the Dozier Boys, Clefs, and Coronets had gone before - but now Chess pulled out all the stops in order to crash into the R&B group market. On Chess, the Moonglows polished up their sound and did it all: R&B ballads ("Most Of All"), high tenor leads ("She's Gone"), uptempo R&B sides ("Tempting"), R&R rockers ("See Saw"), ballads ("We Go Together"), and, of course, two classics ("Sincerely" and "The Ten Commandments Of Love").
"Sincerely," led by Bobby Lester, sold in the region of 300,000 copies and ranked in ninth place of 1955's top R&B tunes as compiled by Billboard. The group appeared in an almost plotless movie, Rock, Rock, Rock (1956), which featured Freed and some of the biggest acts of the day, including Chuck Berry and the Moonglows' old pals from Chance, the Flamingos.
The Moonglows presented Chess with a few more hits during this period, including "See Saw," "Over And Over Again," and "Don't Say Goodbye." Then the inevitable - the hits stopped coming. It was a year and a half before the Moonglows' next hit, but it was worth waiting for: "The Ten Commandments Of Love." This song, once again featuring Harvey Fuqua [no, we never mentioned him singing lead before this; no idea why we said "again"], made both the R&B and pop charts (something "Sincerely" failed to do). Shortly after its success, in late 1959, the group broke up. Fuqua picked up a local Washington, D.C. group called the Marquees (James Nolan, Chester Simmons, Reese Palmer, and Marvin Gaye - yes that Marvin Gaye) to be the new Moonglows. The New Moonglows made their debut on "Twelve Months Of The Year," which only lists Harvey Fuqua on the label.
In 1960 the New Moonglows dissolved and Harvey left Chess to join Berry Gordy in forming the Tri-Phi label. The Moonglows are gone, but not their music. We hope that Moonglows' fans will appreciate the quality of this collection [don't forget, this was written as liner notes for a Moonglows album] and that those who knew the Moonglows from only one or two recordings will take this opportunity to better acquaint themselves with one of the musical giants of the 1950s.
ME AGAIN: Well, some of it was good; some of it was [let's be charitable here] lacking. Whatever happened to Danny Coggins? No mention at all of Chuck Barksdale. Oh well. Let's see if we can fix it up a bit; the Moonglows deserve a better write-up than that. I'll take it through their last Chess single and not try too hard to document what went on past that. I've said before and I'll say again: the Chess files can charitably be called "chaotic." For a company that size, it's amazing that exact recording dates (and even some master numbers) can't be figured out. I'll do the best I can.
NOTE: One Moonglows song ("We Go Together") features the duet lead of Harvey Fuqua and Bobby Lester. However, eight others ("So All Alone," "He Lied," "New Gal," "In Love," "Mean Old Blues," "Kiss Me Baby," "The Beating Of My Heart," and "Sweeter Than Words") were strictly duets. That is, only Harvey and Bobby were on them.
The Moonglows were another of those rare groups (like the Clovers, the 5 Keys, and the Flamingos) that all the other groups were listening to. Shorter-lived than the others, they still managed to make a lasting impact on R&B over about a five-year period.
High school friends Harvey Fuqua (baritone) and Bobby Lester Dallas (a tenor, known professionally as just "Bobby Lester") had both been in the military by the time they became a duo in Louisville, Kentucky in 1949. Both sang, with Harvey accompanying on the piano. In 1950, they teamed up with bandleader Ed Wiley for a tour of the South.
[Harvey was the nephew of the Ink Spots' baritone/guitarist Charlie Fuqua. Although Charlie was an obvious inspiration, Harvey had only met him two or three times. Harvey pronounces his name "FOO-quah," whereas Charlie pronounced it "FOO-quay."]
After the tour, tragedy struck: both of Harvey's children were killed in a fire. In grief, he and his wife moved to Cleveland, in order to make a new start.
Once settled in Cleveland, he met up with tenor Danny Coggins, whom he had known in the service. They tried vocalizing and, when that sounded good, made it a trio by adding a neighbor, bass Prentiss Barnes. Thus were the "Crazy Sounds" born. Of course, they all had "real" jobs and this was only fooling around at this point. They weren't really singing R&B, but "vocalese," a kind of jazz singing that improvises lyrics for instrumental songs (as opposed to scat singing, which improvises nonsense syllables) and uses each voice as a replacement for an instrument.
They practiced; they got better. But there was still something missing. So Harvey went to Louisville and brought Bobby Lester back with him. Now they were four.
In late 1952, they were in a Cleveland club called the Loop, auditioning for its management. A blues singer named Al "Fats" Thomas, who had recorded "Oob Bob Aloo Bo" [boy, does that sound familiar!] for National in 1949, heard them and immediately called a local WJW DJ named Alan Freed.
They auditioned for Freed over the telephone, with a song they were working on, called "I Just Can't Tell No Lie." It wasn't very good at the beginning, but Freed saw promise and had them make changes until it could be recorded. He also became their manager.
Finally, sometime in early 1953, Alan Freed started his own Champagne label (along with Cleveland promoter Lew Platt) to record the Crazy Sounds. But first, that name had to go. Since Freed was known as the "Moondog," he'd been referring to them as the "Moon-Puppies." That wouldn't work either, and they finally settled on "Moonglows." History was about to be made.
Well, actually, history would have to wait for a while. They kicked off their recording career with "I Just Can't Tell No Lie" (led by Harvey Fuqua, with Bobby Lester on the bridge) and "I've Been Your Dog" (fronted by Prentiss Barnes). "I've Been Your Dog" was a tribute to the sound of the Ravens, although Barnes couldn't touch Jimmy Ricks as a bass lead. By the time it got to record, "I Just Can't Tell No Lie" had been magically re-written by Al Lance (a pseudonym for Alan Freed).
The songs (recorded in the WJW studios and pressed in Philadelphia by Gotham) were released in March 1953. (Gotham's files indicate that they pressed up 2500 78s and 1500 45s.) In the end, the platter didn't exactly set the world on fire. With Freed pushing it on his show, it had some Cleveland sales, but little else. They got some gigs out of it (Ohio cities like Akron, Warren, and Youngstown), but they were low paying ones. That was enough to make Danny Coggins re-think the whole show-biz thing, and he ended up quitting.
Fortunately, Harvey and Prentiss had another neighbor, a high tenor named Alexander Walton, who was thrown into the mix. ("Alexander Walton" seems to have been his real name, although it's almost always seen as "Alexander Graves" in any biography of the group. More confusingly, he called himself "Pete," so you'll usually see it as "Pete Graves." However, at least in the 50s, he autographed photos as "Pete Walton." In the sixties and beyond, he was unquestionably known as "Pete Graves.") They continued appearing at small clubs and refining their act.
On August 23, the Moonglows appeared, along with Fats Domino and Joe Turner, on Alan Freed's "Big Rhythm And Blues Show" at the Cleveland Arena. Their appearance resulted in a contract with Art Sheridan and Steve Chandler's Chance label. There, on September 27, they recorded "Just A Lonely Christmas" (Harvey), "Whistle My Love" (Bobby), "Baby Please" (Harvey), "Hey Santa Claus" (Bobby), "Fine Fine Girl" (Harvey), and "My Love" (Harvey). The latter two songs remained unreleased until a 1964 Constellation LP.
"Whistle My Love" and "Baby Please" were released in October (when Chance finally got around to announcing the Moonglows' signing), but the platter doesn't seem to have been reviewed. While Chance occasionally advertised the Flamingos, there don't seem to have been any trade paper ads for any Moonglows record on Chance.
"Just A Lonely Christmas" and "Hey Santa Claus" were paired for a December release. They were reviewed on December 12 (both "fair"). Other reviews that week were for the Magic-Tones' "How Can You Treat Me This Way," Amos Milburn's "Good, Good Whiskey," the 5 Keys' "My Saddest Hour," the Prisonaires' "A Prisoner's Prayer," and Guitar Slim's "The Things That I Used To Do."
On January 10, 1954, the Moonglows had their second (and last) Chance session. This time, they recorded six tunes: "Secret Love" (Bobby), "I Was Wrong" (Harvey), "219 Train" (Harvey), "My Gal" (Harvey), "Ooh Rocking Daddy" (Bobby), and "Real Gone Mama" (Harvey).
"Secret Love" (a cover of the Doris Day hit from "Calamity Jane") and "Real Gone Mama" were issued in February 1954. Reviewed on February 27, "Real Gone Mama" received an "excellent" rating. Other reviews that week went to the Royals' "Work With Me Annie," the Hawks' "Joe The Grinder," the Robins' "I Made A Vow," the 5 C's' "Tell Me," and the Crystals' "My Love." On April 3, "Secret Love" was a Tip in Newark.
On April 19, the Moonglows were part of an Alan Freed "Moondog Ball" at the Akron [Ohio] Armory. They shared the stage with Charles Brown, Margie Day, and the Paul Williams Orchestra. Ever the entrepreneur, Freed set up sound equipment and broadcast a couple of segments of the Ball over the air during his WJW show.
Next, "I Was Wrong" and "Ooh Rocking Daddy" were paired for a May 1954 Chance release. They were reviewed on June 5 ("Ooh Rocking Daddy" receiving an "excellent" rating), along with the Midnighters' "Sexy Ways," the Drifters' "Honey Love," the Orioles' "Drowning Every Hope I Ever Had," the Eagles' "Tryin' To Get To You," and the Deep River Boys' "Truthfully." "I Was Wrong" became a Tip in Philadelphia on July 3.
The Moonglows' last Chance release was "219 Train"/"My Gal," issued in September 1954. However, by this time, Art Sheridan had lost interest in running a record company and was just going through the motions. This probably explains why the Moonglows only had two sessions there.
In September 1954, Alan Freed had just relocated to New York's WINS and was rapidly being recognized as the leading DJ in the country. This helped him secure a contract for the Moonglows with Chicago's powerhouse Chess Records.
At an unknown date in September, the Moonglows held their first Chess session. It produced: "Shoo Doo-Be Doo (My Loving Baby)" (Harvey), "Sincerely" (Bobby), "So All Alone" (the first of the Harvey and Bobby duets without the rest of the group), "Such A Feeling" (unknown), and "Tempting" (Harvey).
Chess, sensing greatness, released "Sincerely" in October, coupling it with "Tempting." It was reviewed (with "Sincerely" ranked "excellent") on November 13. Other reviews that week were for the Checkers' "I Wasn't Thinking, I Was Drinking," the Platters' "Shake It Up Mambo," the Chanteclairs' "Someday My Love Will Come My Way," the Orioles' "Runaround," Earl Curry & the Blenders' "Late Rising Moon," the Counts' "Waitin' Around For You," and the Flamingos' "Blues In A Letter." On November 20, "Sincerely" was a Pick Of The Week, along with the 5 Keys' "Ling, Ting, Tong."
Much has been written about how the McGuire Sisters ripped off the Moonglows, scoring a #1 Pop chart hit with "Sincerely." However, that was standard industry practice. (Didn't the Moonglows cover Doris Day? No one ever seems to complain about that!) What I've never seen in print is that Harvey Fuqua (credited with writing "Sincerely") ripped off the bridge from "That's What You're Doing To Me" (written by Billy Ward), a #7 R&B hit for Clyde McPhatter and the Dominoes in 1952. I've never seen anything about it, but I can't imagine Ward not suing Chess for part of the profits from "Sincerely."
By the time "Sincerely" finished its 20-week national R&B chart run, it had reached #1 (#20 Pop). It must have been a pretty good ditty, the tune it replaced at #1 was the Penguins' "Earth Angel." However, such are the fortunes of the recording industry that it was unceremoniously dumped from the top spot two weeks later by Johnny Ace's posthumous hit, "Pledging My Love."
While Chess had high hopes for "Sincerely," they hedged their bets by releasing two other songs in November: "Shoo Doo-Be Doo (My Loving Baby)" and "So All Alone." However, just to be sure that the public would plunk down as much money as possible, these were issued on their Checker subsidiary, under the name "Moonlighters." The disc was reviewed the same week as "Secret Love" (with "So All Alone" getting an "excellent"). "Shoo Doo Be Doo" was a Tip in Philadelphia on December 4 and a Pick Of The Week on December 18. It was still going in the new year, when it was a tip in Los Angeles on January 1.
November 25, 1954, found the Moonglows at the Masonic Temple in East Chicago as part of a tour with Lowell Fulson and Lynn Hope. On January 2, 1955 the Moonglows were at the Circle Theater in Cleveland for the "Happy New Year Holiday Show." The MC was Billy Long and the rest of the show consisted of Fats Domino, Dolores Ware, and the comedic dance team of Long & Short.
In January 1955 (probably), the Moonglows had another session. This time they recorded: "Most Of All" (Bobby), "Hug And A Kiss" (all), "Doubtful" (Bobby), "He Lied" (a Harvey and Bobby duet), "New Gal" (another Harvey and Bobby duet), and "She's Gone" (Pete Graves).
The Moonglows came to Manhattan for the January 14-15 "Rock And Roll Jubilee Ball," held to celebrate Alan Freed's move to New York's WINS the prior September. Held at the St. Nicholas Arena, it also featured Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters, Joe Turner, the Clovers, Danny Overbea, Fats Domino, Red Prysock, the Harptones, Charles Brown, Ruth Brown, Varetta Dillard, Dakota Staton, and the Buddy Johnson Orchestra, with Ella Johnson and Nolan Lewis. As an extra added attraction, Freed presented the Moonlighters too (in this case, just Harvey and Bobby singing their duets). My feeling is that it was probably worth the $2.00 admission. Note that, because Thomas Louis "Moondog" Hardin had successfully enjoined Freed from using his trademark catchphrase, it was now a "Rock And Roll," rather than a "Moondog" Jubilee Ball. "Promotional considerations" (as they say) were handled by Morris Levy, owner of Birdland, a famous jazz club on 52nd Street.
The Ball dovetailed nicely with the Moonglows' first appearance at the Apollo Theater, the week beginning January 21, 1955. Also on the bill were Faye Adams and the Joe Morris Orchestra. As soon as that show was finished, they headed out as part of the Shaw Agency's "Top 10 R&B Show." Kicking off on January 28 in Norfolk, it was billed as the first show featuring all Shaw Agency artists and the first show fully produced by Clovers' manager Lou Krefetz. Up and down the highway for 60 grueling days, the tour also featured the Clovers, Faye Adams, the Charms, Joe Turner, Lowell Fulson, the Paul Williams Orchestra, the Bill Doggett Trio, and the Spence Twins. It would play the entire country, except the far West, ending up in Buffalo, New York on March 20. If you procrastinated about buying tickets in advance, you could see all this for only $2.00 at the gate!
As soon as "Sincerely" had started doing well, the Moonglows picked up a fifth member: a guitarist named Wayne Bennett. However, after the Apollo show, he decided that traveling wasn't for him. His replacement was the bespectacled Billy Johnson, who'd been with Sonny Thompson for a while in 1952. (Bennett presumably changed his mind later on, since he subsequently spent many years with Bobby "Blue" Bland, as well as becoming a respected session guitarist.)
"Hug And A Kiss"/"New Gal" became the second (and last) Moonlighters release, in February 1955. That same month, Chess issued "Most Of All"/"She's Gone" (an often-overlooked gem).
"Hug And A Kiss"/"New Gal" were reviewed (both "good") on March 12. Other reviews that week were for Gene & Eunice's "This Is My Story," the Dodgers' "Drip Drop," the 5 Royales' "Mohawk Squaw," the Dukes' "Oh Kay," the Gentlemen's "Don't Leave Me Baby," and the Debs' cover of "Shoo Doo Be Doo."
"Most Of All," which doesn't seem to have been reviewed, was a Tip in New York on April 2, on it's way toward being a big hit for the Moonglows: it would peak at #5 on the R&B charts in its 11-week run.
Around March, the Moonglows were back in the studio laying down "Starlite" (Bobby), "Foolish Me" (Bobby), "No One" (Bobby), "Doubtful" (Bobby; the second version), "Slow Down" (Harvey), and "In Love" (a Harvey and Bobby duet). Probably at the same session, they backed up Bo Diddley on "Diddley Daddy" (released in May 1955).
"Foolish Me" and "Slow Down" became the Moonglows' April 1955 release. It coincided with the Moonglows' appearance in Alan Freed's "Easter Jubilee" at the Brooklyn Paramount. Running for a week, starting April 12, that show also featured the Clovers, B.B. King, Lavern Baker, Danny Overbea, the 3 Chuckles, the Penguins, Red Prysock, and Eddie Fontaine. Once again, Harvey and Bobby appeared as the Moonlighters.
On May 20, the Moonglows were part of an Alan Freed week-long "Rock And Roll" show at the Loew's State in Boston. From there, the whole show went to Providence, Rhode Island for three days. The other acts were: Dinah Washington, the 5 Keys, Bo Diddley, Nappy Brown, Little Walter, Dakota Staton, Al Hibbler, and the Buddy Johnson Orchestra, featuring Ella Johnson. As far as I can tell, this was the last appearance of the "Moonlighters."
The Moonglows began another week at the Apollo Theater on June 10, 1955. They were part of a Dr. Jive show, along with Buddy Johnson, Gene & Eunice, Bo Diddley, the Nutmegs, Etta Jones, the 4 Fellows, Nolan Lewis, and Dolores Ware.
August 1955 saw the release of "Starlite," backed with "In Love." The record was reviewed on September 10 ("In Love" was rated "excellent"), along with the Empires' "I Want To Know," the Feathers' "Love Only You," the Sheiks' "So Fine," and the Chimes' "Zindy Lou."
Next, the Moonglows were part of Alan Freed's Labor Day "Big Rock And Roll Show" at the Brooklyn Paramount. Kicking off September 2, the other acts were Tony Bennett (singing all his R&B hits), the Harptones, Nappy Brown, the Cardinals, the Nutmegs, the Flamingos, Red Prysock, and Chuck Berry.
Sometime around October, the Moonglows recorded some more tracks: "In My Diary (Bobby and Pete), "Lover" (Bobby), "Lover, Love Me" (Harvey), "Lover" (Harvey), "Let's Go" (all), "Thrill Me" (Bobby). Things at Chess were really complicated. As well as not listing specific session dates, sometimes Chess assigned discrete master numbers to various takes of a song. That's what happened above. I've never heard either recording of "Lover," but I'm willing to bet that it's the same song as "Lover, Love Me." One unreleased take had Bobby singing lead; the other one had Harvey. The released version was, presumably, a third take, with Harvey in the lead. "Lover, Love Me" came out in November 1955, with "In My Diary" as the flip.
On November 5, "In Love" was a Tip in Washington, D.C. On December 10, "In My Diary" got an "excellent" review, along with the Cardinals' "Here Goes My Heart To You," the Nutmegs' "Whispering Sorrows," the Harptones' "It All Depends On You," Dolly Cooper's "Teen-Age Prayer," the Penguins' "A Christmas Prayer," the Barons' "Cold Kisses," and the Nu-Tones' "Believe." On January 21, "In My Diary" was a Tip in Washington, D.C.
November 25 found the Moonglows at the Apollo Theater. With them, were the Penguins, Choker Campbell, Al Jackson, the Collegians, and Mildred Anderson.
There was supposedly another back-up to Bo Diddley, sometime in the fall of 1955: "Diddy Wah Diddy" (released in January 1956). However, since this didn't coincide with a Moonglows' session, but seems to be on the same day as a Flamingos' session, it's probably the latter group (or some of the Moonglows along with the Flamingos; with Chess, you can never be sure).
There was another session around March 1956. This time they recorded, as far as I can tell, two songs that managed to receive six master numbers: "Chick Cumba" (Harvey), "We Go Together" (Harvey and Bobby duet lead, with the rest of the group present), "Let's Go Steady" (I'll bet anything this is the same song as "We Go Together"), "Chickie-Um-Bah" (Harvey; the same as "Chick Cumba"), "Let's Go Steady" (another try at this one), and the hyphenless "Chickie Um Bah" (Harvey).
"We Go Together" and "Chickie Um Bah" were issued in March. They were reviewed (both "excellent") on March 31, along with the 5 Dollars' "So Strange," Fats Domino's "My Blue Heaven," Joe Turner's "Corrine, Corrina," the Cadillacs' "You Are," the Fi-Tones' "I Call To You," the Cadets' "Church Bells May Ring," and the Chromatics' "Devil Blues."
The Moonglows were part of an Easter week Dr. Jive show at the Apollo on March 30, 1956. This time, they shared the stage with Bo Diddley, Claudia Swann, Charlie & Ray, the Solitaires, Dean Barlow, Brook Benton, the Fi-Tones, the Schoolboys, the Teen Queens, Sugar & Spice, and the Buddy Griffin Orchestra.
On April 14, "We Go Together" was a Pick Of The Week. A couple of weeks later, it was a Tip in Chicago. It turned out to be a mild hit, reaching #9 (R&B), but only remaining for two weeks. The way Alan Freed played it in New York, however, you'd think it was a major hit.
The Moonglows played the Municipal Auditorium in Buffalo, New York on April 22. They shared the stage with Roy Gaines, Dakota Staton, and the Paul Williams Orchestra. In May, they played the 5-4 Ballroom in Los Angeles, along with Lowell Fulson.
On June 22, 1956, the Moonglows started another week at the Apollo. This time, they shared the boards with Dizzy Gillespie, Paul Himmelstein & the Heartbreakers, Mr. Blues, Sally Blair, and Lonnie Satin.
In July 1956, their next session produced "When I'm With You" (Bobby), "See Saw" (Harvey), "Kiss Me Baby" (a Harvey and Bobby duet), and "Penny Arcade" (Bobby). At a subsequent July session, they recorded "Over And Over Again" (Bobby), followed the next month by "I Knew From The Start" (also Bobby).
"See Saw" and "When I'm With You" were released in July and reviewed on July 28 (both "excellent"), along with the Drifters' "Soldier Of Fortune," the Coasters' "One Kiss Led To Another," Big Walter's "Pack Fair And Square," the 5 Royales' "Come On And Save Me," the Tangiers' "Remember Me," and the Avons' "Our Love Will Never End." "When I'm With You" was a Tip in Los Angeles on September 15. Both "See Saw" and "When I'm With You" made the R&B charts, reaching #6 and #15, respectively. "See Saw" also made #25 on the Pop charts.
August 1956 saw the Moonglows film their lip-synching for the two songs that would be used in the movie Rock, Rock, Rock. They conveniently did "Over And Over Again" and "I Knew From The Start," which were paired for a November release (to dovetail with the early December opening of Rock, Rock, Rock). Just to ensure that no one could keep track of what Chess was doing, "Over And Over Again" was issued in a fast and a slow version, both with the same record number (the slow version was master 8189A), and in the same month. (The musical performances for Rock, Rock, Rock were filmed in a studio in New York and later spliced into the main film.)
Rock, Rock, Rock was a Big Deal. Not only was it the first true R&R film, but it stood to make a lot of money (not, of course, for the performers, but hey, not everyone can benefit from these things).
While they were in town, the Moonglows were featured in Alan Freed's Labor Day show at the Brooklyn Paramount, beginning on August 28. Sharing the stage were Fats Domino, the Cleftones, the Harptones, Joe Turner, the Teenagers, the Penguins, Mabel King, Cirino & the Bow Ties, the Shepherd Sisters, the DeMilo Sisters, and Jimmy Cavello & His House Rockers.
On November 23, Alan Freed hosted a week at the Apollo Theater. Besides the Moonglows, the other acts were the Cleftones, the Harptones, the Pretenders, Eddie Cooley & the Dimples, Little Billy Mason, the Gee label Angels, the Lanes, the Joytones, the Rhythm Jesters, and Sonny Knight.
Would you like to know how these things work? Why those particular acts? Alan Freed was close with Morris Levy, owner of the Birdland jazz club. Levy, the promoter for past Freed shows, had a partner named Phil Kahl. Kahl's brother was Joe Kolsky, who was partners with George Goldner in Rama and Gee. Thus, we can account for the Cleftones, the Harptones, the Pretenders, Little Billy Mason, the Angels, the Lanes, the Joytones, and the Rhythm Jesters being on the show: they were all Rama/Gee artists. Jack Hooke, owner of Royal Roost Records, was a close friend of Freed's since the early 50s. It will come as no surprise that Eddie Cooley & the Dimples recorded for Royal Roost. That only leaves Sonny Knight, whose Dot recording of "Confidential" was a big hit at the time. Dot was owned by Randy Wood, and guess who was another Freed buddy? When Freed moved to California after the Payola scandal, it was Wood who continued to befriend him.
Just when the release of Rock, Rock, Rock was imminent, there was a trade paper item that the Moonglows had been signed by the Jolly Joyce Agency, which would represent them in all future movie deals (as well as TV and radio).
December 7 found the Moonglows as one of the acts on the Goodwill Revue, sponsored by WDIA (Memphis). Ray Charles, B.B. King, the Magnificents, and the Spirit Of Memphis Quartet all appeared in this benefit show to help needy children.
"Over And Over Again" and "I Knew From The Start" were reviewed on December 8, 1956 (both sides "excellent"). Other reviews that week were for the Flamingos' "Would I Be Crying," the Clovers' "A Lonely Fool," the Sensations' "Little Wallflower," the Schoolboys' "Please Say You Want Me," Nappy Brown's "Little By Little," the Copesetics' "Believe In Me," the Jaguars' "The Way You Look Tonight," the Danderliers' "She's Mine," the Baltineers' "Moments Like This," the Marquis' "Bohemian Daddy," the Fi-Tones' "Waiting For Your Call," and the De Bonairs' "Mother's Son."
On December 13, 1956 the Moonglows had another session. [Hold the presses! An actual session that can be dated!] They must have been gasping for air after this one; they recorded nine tunes: "I'll Stop Wanting You" (Bobby), "This Love" (Harvey), "Don't Say Goodbye" (Bobby), "Love Is A River" (Bobby), "Please Send Me Someone To Love" (Harvey), "Let Me Hold Your Hand" (Harvey), "Blue Velvet" (Bobby), "The Beating Of My Heart" (a Harvey and Bobby duet), and "I'm Afraid The Masquerade Is Over" (Prentiss Barnes). These songs had heavier orchestration than the Moonglows had been used to and were supposed to be the basis for an LP that never materialized. I've read that this was a reaction to the Platters having hits with strings and lush arrangements. Nope. The Platters' first stringed biggie, "Twilight Time," was a year away from being recorded.
This session also marked a transition to Harvey Fuqua singing most of the leads. Of all the songs recorded and released from this point on, Bobby Lester sang lead on only two ("Confess It To Your Heart" and "Here I Am"), as well as the unreleased "What Are You Going To Do."
On December 22, the Chess LP Rock, Rock, Rock got an "excellent" rating. It contained the tunes that the Moonglows, the Flamingos, and Chuck Berry had done in the film, along with other hits by those acts. [There was an actual soundtrack album, but that was only pressed up to be sent to DJs.]
Along with being in the Freed movie, the Moonglows were with him for his Christmas week show at the Brooklyn Paramount (December 23-30). Other acts on the bill were Shirley & Lee, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Jesse Belvin, the G-Clefs, the Heartbeats, the 3 Friends, the Dells, Mac Curtis, George Hamilton IV, Lillian Briggs, Eddie Cooley & the Dimples, and Barbie Gaye.
January 5, 1957 found "Over And Over Again" to be a Pick Of The Week; it was a Tip in Philadelphia on the 26th.
On February 15, the Moonglows were part of the "Greatest Show Of 1957" (since it was only February, I suppose it was named by someone with a crystal ball). It kicked off in Pittsburgh on its 80-day run across the U.S. and Canada. Other acts included Lavern Baker, Clyde McPhatter, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, the 5 Keys, the 5 Satins, Eddie Cooley & the Dimples, Charles Brown, Ann Cole, the Schoolboys, Bill Doggett, and the Paul Williams Orchestra.
"Don't Say Goodbye" and "I'm Afraid The Masquerade Is Over" were released in March 1957 and reviewed on March 9 ("Don't Say Goodbye" received an "excellent"). Other reviews that week were for the Dells' "Why Do You Have To Go," Bob ("The Wanderer") Kornegay's "The Man In The Phone Booth," the Jivers' "Ray Pearl," the Colts' "Sheik Of Araby," Johnnie & Joe's "Over The Mountain, Across The Sea," the Crystals' "I Love My Baby," and Dale (Sam Cooke) Cook's "Forever."
Sometime in March 1957 (presumably when the "Greatest Show Of 1957" reached Chicago) the Moonglows recorded "Mr. Engineer," with Harvey in the lead.
In June, they recorded three more tunes: "What Are You Going To Do" (Bobby), "Here I Am" (Bobby), and "Too Late" (Harvey).
"Mr. Engineer" was paired with "Please Send Me Someone To Love" and released in June 1957. "Please Send Me Someone To Love" (the old Percy Mayfield tune) was rated "excellent" on June 17, along with the Del Vikings' "Cool Shake," the Del Vikings' "Whispering Bells," Huey Smith's "Rockin' Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu," Dee Clark's "Gloria," the Pearls' "Ice Cream Baby," and the Strollers' "You're The Only One For Me." On July 8, "Please Send Me Someone To Love" was a Tip in New York. It turned out to be a pretty big hit for the Moonglows, reaching #5 on the R&B charts.
Sometime in July, they laid down "Barcelona Rock" (Harvey) and "Confess It To Your Heart" (Bobby). "Barcelona Rock" was never issued on a single. It was surprising that "Barcelona Rock" was never issued on a single, since they lip synched to it in the Freed movie, Mr. Rock And Roll. They were also part of Freed's "Summer Festival Of Rock 'n' Roll" at the New York Paramount Theater. The show starred Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, and Clyde McPhatter. Others on the bill were Johnnie & Joe, Joe Turner, the Teenchords, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Jodie Sands, the Everly Brothers, Paul Anka, and Teddy Randazzo. Another unreleased song from around this time is "Love Me True" (Harvey); the date and master number are unknown.
On July 26, 1957, the Moonglows were back at the Apollo, this time with Lloyd Price, the Teenchords, Lee Andrews & the Hearts, George Kirby, the Hearts (the J&S group), and Pigmeat Markham.
"Confess It To Your Heart"/"The Beating Of My Heart" were released in August 1957. They were reviewed on September 16 (both "excellent"), along with the Clovers' "Down In The Alley," the Demens' "Take Me As I Am," the Tunemasters' "Sending This Letter," the Cuff Links' "It's Too Late Now," the Love Notes' "If I Could Make You Mine," and the Rob-Roys' "Tell Me Why."
The Moonglows were once again with Alan Freed for his Brooklyn Paramount Labor Day show. Others on the bill were Little Richard, Jo Ann Campbell, Buddy Holly & the Crickets, Ocie Smith, the 5 Keys, the Diamonds, the Del Vikings, Mickey & Sylvia, Larry Williams, and Jimmie Rodgers.
On October 4, the Moonglows became part of the "Fantabulous Rock 'n' Roll Show Of '57." [How many of you remember that "fantabulous" entered the vocabulary because of Robert Strom, the 10-year-old genius who won $192,000 on the $64,000 Question in 1957?] Kicking off from Fayetteville, North Carolina, the show wound through the South, the Midwest, and the Southwest. Others on the 45-day tour were Larry Williams, Joe Turner, Annie Laurie, the Velours, Tiny Topsy, the Del Vikings, Vikki Nelson, Mary Ann Fisher, Roy Brown, Bo Diddley, Ray Charles, and Nappy Brown. Only a few days later (the 10th), the Moonglows somehow got to appear on American Bandstand.
In December 1957, they recorded "Mean Old Blues" (a Harvey and Bobby duet), "Ten Commandments Of Love" (Harvey; the first, long [4 minute] version), and "Don't Be Afraid To Love" (Harvey). Their next release, "Too Late"/"Here I Am," was issued later in December, just in time for their week-long appearance at the Apollo Theater, which began on December 27, 1957. Others on the show were Bo Diddley, Big Maybelle, the Drifters, the Dells, the Deltairs, Priscilla Bowman, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Mally & Margot, and the Reuben Phillips Orchestra.
"Too Late"/"Here I Am" were reviewed on February 10 (both "good"), along with Fats Domino's "Yes My Darling," Huey Smith & the Clowns' "Don't You Just Know It," the Hollywood Flames' "A Little Bird," the Miller Sisters' "The Flip Side," the Blossoms' "Have Faith In Me," the Shirelles' "I Met Him on A Sunday," the Spaniels' "Crazee Baby," the Midnighters' "Daddy's Little Baby," and the Viscounts' "Tail Light."
Around February 1958, there was another session at which the three Harvey-led songs were: "In The Middle Of The Night," "Soda Pop" (written by Berry Gordy), and "Slop Stroll Walk." "In The Middle Of The Night" and "Soda Pop" (sadly, not even the worst song the Moonglows would do; they'd come a long, long way from "I Just Can't Tell No Lie") were released in March. They were reviewed on April 7 (both "good"), along with Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode," Fats Domino's "Sick And Tired," the Rays' "Rags To Riches," Clyde McPhatter's "Come What May," Joe Turner's "Blues In The Night," the Bay Bops' "Follow The Rock," the Gladiolas' "Shoop Shoop," the Bobbettes' "Zoomy," the Kuf-Linx's "Service With A Smile," the Ladders' "Counting The Stars," the Gaylarks' "Somewhere In This World," the Ospreys' "Do You Wanna Jump Children," and the Rob Roys' "Dance Girl, Dance."
There were another couple of masters recorded around June 1958: "This Love" (Harvey) and "Sweeter Than Words" (a Harvey and Bobby duet). They were supposed to become the Moonglows' next release in August, but don't seem to have been issued on a single at this time. Chess assigned them record number 1701, but it wasn't actually released until the early 60s. However, both songs were on the Look, It's The Moonglows LP and one of the derivative EPs (see below).
Also in August, they recorded the second (and considerably shorter at 2:43) version of "Ten Commandments Of Love." It was issued that month with "Mean Old Blues" as the flip. They now had two records out at the same time. Not a good sign. While "This Love"/"Sweeter Than Words" were credited to the "Moonglows," "Ten Commandments Of Love"/"Mean Old Blues" were credited to "Harvey & the Moonglows" (another sign of trouble, especially since "Mean Old Blues" was one of the Harvey and Bobby duets).
"Ten Commandments Of Love" and "Mean Old Blues" were reviewed on September 1, 1958 (both "good"), along with Little Richard's "Baby Face," the Students' "I'm So Young," the 5 Shillings' "Letter To An Angel," the Chanters' "Five Little Kisses," and the Kashmirs' "Tippi-Tippi-Wang-Wang."
While I would imagine most people would tend to equate the Moonglows with "Ten Commandments Of Love," it only reached #9 on the R&B charts (and #22 Pop). Of all their 50s R&B chart hits, only "When I'm With You" ranked lower.
In early September 1958, the Moonglows did a show in Charlotte, North Carolina with Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley, Dave "Baby" Cortez, Lavern Baker, Bobby Freeman, the Pastels, Lee Allen, and the Gladiolas. On September 26, the Moonglows were back at the Apollo, this time with Ruth Brown, the Kodoks, the Royal Holidays, Oscar McLollie & Annette, the Norma Miller Dancers, and the Paul Williams Orchestra.
Probably in September, Chess issued the Look, It's The Moonglows album, with a generous selection of the group's tunes. Strangely, the only mention of it is in a Chess ad from August 1959. It contains "Love Is A River" and "I'll Stop Wanting You," which would be released as a single in January 1959. Strangely, Chess issued eight of the LP's songs on two EPs, both also titled Look, It's The Moonglows (strange, because I would have expected all twelve songs on three EPs).
Want more trouble? In October, Harvey Fuqua recorded a session by himself. The four tunes were: "Here I Stand," "I Want Somebody," "Rock And Roll Baby," and "Da Da Goo Goo." "I Want Somebody" and "Da Da Goo Goo" were issued (as by "Harvey") in December 1958. The Moonglows were barely hanging on at this point, although they appeared on a Jolly Joyce show from October 15 through November 15. Others on the bill were Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey & Sylvia, Tommy Edwards, Dave "Baby" Cortez, the Applejacks, and Joe August (who had once recorded as "Mr. Google Eyes").
Still going through the motions, the Moonglows joined Alan Freed, one last time, for his "Christmas Jubilee Of Stars," which opened on December 25 at the Loews' State in Manhattan. Other acts included Johnny Ray, the Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Jackie Wilson, Jimmy Clanton, the Cadillacs, Eddie Cochran, Frankie Avalon, the Crests, Dion & the Belmonts, the Royal Teens, Baby Washington, and Freed's wife, Inga (singing her hoped-for-big-hit, "Silly Willy").
For the Moonglows' next release (in January 1959), Chess dug out two masters from the December 1956 session: "I'll Stop Wanting You" (mistitled "I'll Never Stop Wanting You" on the label) and "Love Is A River." Hmmm. Going back to 1956. Must be trouble here somewhere. The tunes were reviewed on January 19 (both "good"), along with Chuck Berry's "Anthony Boy," the Imperials' "When You Wish Upon A Star," the Coasters' "Charlie Brown," Robert & Johnny's "Truly In Love," the Moonbeems' "Cryin' The Blues," and the Rob Roys' "Pizza Pie."
On January 9, 1959, the Moonglows made their last appearance at the Apollo. Presumably still the original group (because of contractual reasons), they were joined by Bill Doggett, the Cadillacs, Arnold Dover, and Cleo Bernard.
In case you're wondering, the Moonglows were in trouble. Actually, "trouble" isn't exactly the word: they'd pretty much broken up. I've read so many differing stories that I'm not about to speculate as to why it happened. Bobby Lester would have a single solo release on Checker around March 1959: "Am I The Man?"/"Lonely Hearts." That same month, Chess was talking about Bobby and Harvey as "formerly of the Moonglows."
[This is probably a good time to mention another master by the original group: "Cold Feet" (led by Harvey). It appeared on the Look, It's The Moonglows album, but it doesn't seem to appear in the Chess master book. I've heard it and I guess it's the Moonglows, but I have no idea where it came from.]
Harvey soon allied himself with the Marquees (who had done "Wyatt Earp" on Okeh): Reese Palmer (first tenor), Marvin Gay (second tenor/baritone; he'd change the spelling to "Gaye" later on, when he became a soloist), James Nolan (second tenor/baritone), and Chester Simmons (bass). Here's a slightly edited account, from my Marquees article:
Since Chester Simmons had become a driver and valet for Bo Diddley, he was able to have a conversation with Harvey Fuqua, lead of the Moonglows, when that group came to town [Washington, D.C.] to play the Howard Theater in late 1958. Harvey told Chester that the original Moonglows were on the verge of breaking up, and he needed a group to replace them. Fortunately the Marquees were practicing for a big talent show and Chester brought them around to meet Harvey. Harvey liked them and, for a whole week, rehearsed with them between shows at the Howard. [This is what Reese Palmer told me. However, Harvey Fuqua, in an interview, said that it was Marvin Gaye who made the overtures to him and Prentiss Barnes. A fairly minor detail, since the result was the same.]
Then Harvey left to play other engagements, and the Marquees feared that he'd forgotten all about them. But they needn't have worried. In about a month, Harvey came back for them and they found themselves the new Moonglows. [This would have to be some time after January 15, when their week at the Apollo had ended.] They started out on tour, and when they got to Chicago, Harvey went to a pool hall and found Chuck Barksdale, bass of the Dells (who had split up at this point because of their automobile accident); he was added as a sixth member.
The original Moonglows used two leads: Harvey Fuqua and Bobby Lester. When James Nolan took over the songs that Bobby Lester had led, Chester Simmons moved up to baritone, leaving the bass work to Chuck Barksdale. When Harvey sang lead, however, both Chester and Chuck sang the same bass notes.
Even though he now had another group, Harvey was exploring other avenues. In February 1959, he released a couple of duets with Etta James (as "Betty & Dupree") on Kent: "I Hope You're Satisfied" and "If It Ain't One Thing."
Around April 1959, Harvey and the New Moonglows recorded "Twelve Months Of The Year" (Harvey in the lead, with Marvin Gaye doing the recitation). This was released (probably in April also), with "Don't Be Afraid To Love" as the flip. Thus one side has the New Moonglows and the flip has the original group. Chess, ever a bastion of practicality, just credited "Harvey" on the label.
And then (back to the Marquees story):
In the spring of 1959, Harvey and the Moonglows were scheduled to appear on American Bandstand. Harvey wanted to take his new group with him, but contractually he was obligated to take the old one. Whatever songs they sang (or lip-synched) found Harvey as part of the group, not out in front. However, when he sang "Don't Be Afraid To Love" (which he had recorded with the old group), he did it as a solo number (as he did for the movie Go, Johnny, Go, released in June 1959, but filmed many months earlier).
The New Moonglows had another session around May 1959, at which they recorded "Mama Loocie" (Marvin Gaye) and "Unemployment" (Harvey).
On June 12, the New Moonglows joined a Jolly Joyce tour that began at the Tivoli Theater in Chicago. The show also featured Dave "Baby" Cortez, Lula Reed, Sam Hawkins, and Valerie Carr.
"Mama Loocie" and "Unemployment" were released in September 1959 (as "Harvey & the Moonglows") and reviewed the week of October 5 (with "Unemployment" getting an excellent rating). Other reviews that week were for the Harptones' "Hep Teenager," Brook Benton's "So Many Ways," Titus Turner's "We Told You Not To Marry," the 5 Satins' "Shadows," Willis Sanders & the Embers' "Hungry For Love," and the Top Rank Ravens' (who were actually Willis Sanders & the Embers also) "(There's A) Hole In The Middle Of The Moon."
Reese Palmer remembered two other songs that the New Moonglows recorded with Harvey: "Love, I'm So Glad I Found You" and the original version of "That's What Girls Are Made For." However, these aren't listed in the Chess master book and may have only been demo tapes.
Harvey did some more solo recording in July 1959: "Every Night About This Time," "1 - 2 - 3 - 4," and "Anna." Presumably "Anna" was written for Anna Gordy, Berry Gordy's sister, whom Marvin Gaye would eventually marry. Harvey, divorced by this time, would marry her sister, Gwen.
And where was Bobby Lester all this time? Well, for one thing, he had a Moonglows group. For another, he was getting into trouble. An article in the October 1, 1959 issue of Jet said that he and Abby Mallory (described as the "vocalist") were arrested on narcotics charges in Beaumont, Texas. This must have been a large group, because eight other members were arrested on vagrancy charges.
In January 1960, Chess issued some more solos by Harvey: "Ooh, Ouch, Stop!" and "Blue Skies." This probably indicates that the New Moonglows weren't doing much better than the old ones. Then...
In early 1960, the New Moonglows began to fall apart. James Nolan was the first to leave, then Reese Palmer. "We had families to feed and there wasn't much money," said Reese. Then, Chuck Barksdale left, eventually rejoining the Dells [he was certainly back with them when they recorded "Oh What A Good Nite" in March 1960]. Marvin Gaye remained with Harvey and it's possible that Chester Simmons did too; he eventually became an independent record distributor in the mid-60s.
"We spent a lot of time in Detroit," remembered Reese Palmer. And there were probably things going on behind the scenes. Both Harvey and Marvin ended up marrying Berry Gordy's sisters (Gwen and Anna, respectively, who had once been the house photographers at Detroit's Flame Show Bar), and both became big with Motown (Harvey in the production end).
Somewhere along the way, Harvey had brought Etta James to Chess. In August 1960, "Etta & Harvey" released "If I Can't Have You"/"My Heart Cries." By this time, Harvey had moved to Detroit.
However, in later 1960, there was still a Moonglows group around. It had Marvin Gaye and possibly Chester Simmons, but the other members are unknown. In September, they held the last Moonglows session, which produced "Beatnik" (Harvey) and "Junior" (all), released in October (as the last original record credited solely to the "Moonglows"). These Coasters-type arrangements were about as far as you could get from "I Just Can't Tell No Lie," and Chess never sent them out for review. Possibly the other members were from the Spinners (tenor Bobby Smith, tenor Billy Henderson, baritone Henry Fambrough, and bass Purvis Jackson). I asked Harvey Fuqua who the members were and he said that it was the Marquees. However, Reese Palmer said that he and James Nolan certainly weren't on them.
There was another Etta & Harvey duet release in December 1960. This time it was "Spoonful"/"It's A Crying Shame."
In February 1961, Chess issued Harvey's last solo efforts: "Mama," backed with "The First Time." He then went into the production end with Motown, starting the Tri-Phi and Harvey labels. He also mentored the Spinners, who recorded "That's What Girls Are Made For" on Tri-Phi. (Harvey did such a good job of it that lead singer Bobby Smith sounds just like him.)
The final Moonglows release on Chess (prior to reissues) was "Penny Arcade"/"Blue Velvet" in December 1961. These were both 1956 masters, which had appeared on the Look, It's The Moonglows LP in 1958. This single was probably intended for the new "oldies" craze. They were credited to "Bobby Lester & the Moonglows," as was the Best Of LP issued the following year.
Possibly this was done because Bobby had recently put together a new group of Moonglows and Chess figured they might return to the fold. The New New Moonglows consisted of Bobby, Alexander Walton (who was calling himself "Pete Graves" full-time by now), Milton Turner (who had been the lead of the Packards), and Doc Green [who is not, REPEAT AFTER ME, "NOT!!!" (c'mon, c'mon, louder) the Dock Green who was in the 5 Crowns and the Drifters].
By 1962, there was an act called Judy Jae & Moonglows, who had some releases on Jacob-Carle and Brosh (two companies that merged). While Jacob-Carle was originally from Chicago, there's no chance that the voices accompanying Judy have anything to do with the Chess group.
When Bobby Lester and Milton Turner left the group in 1963, Pete Graves added Bearle Easton and George Thorpe (both of whom had been in the Red Robin Velvets) and the group recorded for the Times Square, Lana, and Crimson labels in 1964.
Also in 1964, all twelve of the Chance masters were issued on an LP on the Constellation label. This included "Fine Fine Girl" and "My Love," which had never been on singles.
Over the years, Harvey took on more responsibilities at Motown. As well as producing and writing, he headed up the Artists Development Department. This included bandleader Maurice King doing arranging, dancer Cholly Atkins doing choreography, and charm school diva Maxine Powell making everyone look good. In 1970, Harvey left Motown and seems to have become associated with RCA Victor.
In 1970, Harvey Fuqua, Bobby Lester, and Pete Graves reunited to form a new Moonglows group. The others were Doc Williams (is he the "Doc Green" from 1964?) and Chuck Lewis. In 1972, they recorded "Sincerely '72'" for Big P records (owned by Philadelphia DJ Georgie Woods); the flip was "You've Chosen Me." [Yes, I know that Bobby Lester had other groups before and after this, but I'm not going to document them.]
RCA Victor subsequently purchased these sides, plus eight others recorded for Big P. In June 1972, RCA released "Sincerely," with "I Was Wrong" on the flip. "Sincerely" actually made the R&B charts, rising to #43. Also in June, RCA issued an LP called The Return Of The Moonglows. This contained nine of their Chess songs, re-sung (plus "You've Chosen Me"): "Sincerely," "When I'm With You," "You've Chosen Me," "I'll Stop Wanting You," "Penny Arcade," "The Ten Commandments" [sic], "Most Of All," "I Was Wrong," "The Beat Of My Heart" [sic], and "Love Is A River."
In October, RCA released "You've Chosen Me," with "When I'm With You" on the flip. While this group didn't last out the year, Bobby Lester kept a Moonglows group going for the rest of his life.
In April 1986, Harvey Fuqua, Pete Graves, Doc Williams, Chuck Lewis, and former guitarist Billy Johnson reunited for a show at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan. In 1992, the Moonglows were inducted into the UGHA Hall Of Fame, and in March 2000, into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.
Bobby Lester died in October 1980, Billy Johnson in April 1987, Alexander "Pete Graves" Walton in October 2006, and Prentiss Barnes also in October 2006. Harvey Fuqua, the last survivor, died of a heart attack on July 6, 2010, just short of his 81st birthday.
Ads are from Galen Gart's First Pressings series. Discography courtesy of Ferdie Gonzalez.
7 500 I Just Can't Tell No Lie (HF/BL)/I've Been Your Dog (PB) - 3/53
1147 Whistle My Love (BL)/Baby Please (HF) - 10/53
1150 Just A Lonely Christmas (HF)/Hey Santa Claus (BL) - 12/53
1152 Secret Love (BL)/Real Gone Mama (HF) - 2/54
1156 I Was Wrong (HF)/Ooh Rocking Daddy (BL) - 5/54
1161 219 Train (HF)/My Gal (HF) - 9/54
Fine Fine Girl (HF)
My Love (HF)
1581 Sincerely (BL)/Tempting (HF) - 10/54
CHECKER (as the "Moonlighters")
806 Shoo Doo-Be-Doo (My Loving Baby) (HF)/So All Alone (DUET) - 11/54
813 Hug And A Kiss (ALL)/New Gal (DUET) - 2/55
1589 Most Of All (BL)/She's Gone (PG) - 2/55
1598 Foolish Me (BL)/Slow Down (HF) - 4/55
CHECKER (backing up Bo Diddley; uncredited)
Diddley Daddy/[She's Fine, She's Mine - Bo Diddley] - 5/55
1605 Starlite (BL)/In Love (DUET) - 8/55
1611 In My Diary (BL & PG)/Lover, Love Me (HF) - 11/55
CHECKER (supposedly backing up Bo Diddley; however, I think this is actually the Flamingos)
832 Diddy Wah Diddy/[I Am Looking For A Woman - Bo Diddley] - 1/56
1619 We Go Together (HF/BL)/Chickie Um Bah (HF) - 3/56
1629 See Saw (HF)/When I'm With You (BL) - 7/56
1646 Over And Over Again (BL)/I Knew From The Start (BL) - 11/56
["Over And Over Again" released as fast & slow versions with same record number]
1651 Don't Say Goodbye (BL)/I'm Afraid The Masquerade Is Over (PB) - 3/57
1661 Please Send Me Someone To Love (HF)/Mr. Engineer (HF) - 6/57
1669 Confess It To Your Heart (BL)/The Beating Of My Heart (DUET) - 8/57
1681 Too Late (HF)/Here I Am (BL) - 12/57
1689 Soda Pop (HF)/In The Middle Of The Night (HF) - 3/58
1701 This Love (HF)/Sweeter Than Words (DUET)
[supposed to be released August 1958, but not issued until the early 60s]
1705 Ten Commandments Of Love (HF)/Mean Old Blues (DUET) - 8/58
1717 I'll Never Stop Wanting You (BL)/Love Is A River (BL) - 1/59
[mistitled on the label; it should be "I'll Stop Wanting You"]
1725 Don't Be Afraid To Love (HF)/Twelve Months Of The Year (HF/MG) - ca. 4/59
[the full group is present, but the label only credits Harvey]
1738 Unemployment (HF)/Mama Loocie (MG) - 9/59
1770 Beatnik (HF)/Junior (ALL) - 10/60
1811 Penny Arcade (BL)/Blue Velvet (BL) - 12/61
Such A Feeling (??)
He Lied (DUET)
Thrill Me (BL)
No One (BL)
Let's Go (ALL)
Chick Cumba (HF)
Let's Go Steady (??)
Let's Go Steady (??)
This Love (HF)
Let Me Hold Your Hand (HF)
What Are You Going To Do (BL)
Barcelona Rock (HF)
Love Me True (HF)
Slop Stroll Walk (HF)
EP 5122 - 58
Love Is A River (BL)/Ten Commandments Of Love (HF)//Blue Velvet (BL)/Mean Old Blues (DUET)
EP 5123 - 58
This Love (HF)/Penny Arcade (BL)//I'll Stop Wanting You (BL)/Sweeter Then Words (DUET)
LP-1430 Look, It's The Moonglows - 58
Love Is A River (BL)
Blue Velvet (BL)
This Love (HF)
When I'm With You (BL)
I'll Stop Wanting You (BL)
Don't Say Goodbye (BL)
Ten Commandments Of Love (HF)
Kiss Me Baby (DUET)
Penny Arcade (BL)
Mean Old Blues (DUET)
Sweeter Than Words (DUET)
Cold Feet (HF)
LP-1471 The Best Of Bobby Lester And The Moonglows - 62
See Saw (HF)
In My Diary (BL)
Blue Velvet (BL)
Don't Say Goodbye (BL)
We Go Together (HF/BL)
Ten Commandments Of Love (HF)
Most Of All (BL)
Please Send Me Someone To Love (HF)
Over And Over Again (BL)
Constellation (all the Chance masters)
CS-2 Collectors Showcase Vol. II - The Moonglows - 64
I Was Wrong (BL)
Real Gone Mama (HF)
My Gal (HF)
219 Train (HF)
Oh Rockin' Daddy (BL)
Secret Love (BL)
Fine Fine Girl (HF)
My Love (HF)
Whistle My Love (BL)
Lonely Christmas (HF)
Baby Please (HF)
Hey, Santa Claus (BL)
101 Sincerely "72"/You've Chosen Me - 72
74-0759 Sincerely/I Was Wrong - 6/72
74-0839 When I'm With You/You've Chosen Me - 10/72
LSP-4277 The Return Of The Moonglows - 6/72
When I'm With You
You've Chosen Me
I'll Stop Wanting You
The Ten Commandments [sic]
Most Of All
I Was Wrong
The Beat Of My Heart [sic]
Love Is A River
HF = Harvey Fuqua; BL = Bobby Lester; PB = Prentiss Barnes; PG = Pete Graves; MG = Marvin Gaye
HF/BL = duet lead: Harvey Fuqua and Bobby Lester; DUET = Harvey & Bobby only, no group
30 I've Got The Right/Baby Please - 1/64
130 Sincerely/Time After Time - 64
131 What A Difference A Day Makes/Most Of All - 64
132 In My Diary/Blue Velvet - 64
133 See Saw/Love Is A River - 64
134 We Go Together/Sho Be Du Be Du - 64
135 Ten Commandments Of Love/Half A Heart - 64
1003 Gee/My Imagination - 64