This Webpage is dedicated to the memory of ..............
Orlandus "Dad" Wilson of the Golden Gate Quartet
"His Eye is on the Sparrow"
Golden Gate Quartet
The Golden Gate Quartet is the world's
best known spiritual vocal group. This year, the "Gates"
celebrate their 60th Anniversary as a singing group with their induction into
the UGHA Hall of Fame. The Golden Gate Quartet of today includes bass singer
Orlandus Wilson (age 78) and tenor Clyde Riddick (age 80), who have been with
the group since the 1930s. Clyde Wright first joined the Gates in 1954.
The youngest member, Paul Brembly has been singing with the group since 1971.
Also traveling with the group is the Gates' pianist, Alain Duchesne.
The Golden Gate Quartet traces its
origins to Norfolk, VA in 1934. There, two young singers from Booker Washington
High School, Henry Owens and Willie Johnson teamed up with barbershop owner A.C.
Griffin and one‑legged bass singer Robert "Peg" Ford to form the
Gates. While officially Orlandus Wilson and Clyde Riddick did not join the Gates
until 1936 and 1940 respectively, both performed on a "fill in" basis
in the mid1930s. Griffin left in 1935, being replaced by William Langford.
Orlandus Wilson replaced Ford in 1936.
By mid-l 936, the Gates were touring
the Carolinas and singing over local radio stations. They soon attracted the
interest of RCA Victor/Bluebird Records who first recorded the group in August,
1937. After several appearances on the NBC radio network, the Gates were brought
to New York to appear on John Hammond's now legendary 1938 "Spirituals to
Swing" concert at Carnegie Hall. By 1940 Clyde Riddick had
permanently replaced Bill Langford who had moved on to start his own group.
Conrad Frederick joined the quartet as a pianist and became a mainstay of the
group. The Gates moved to NYC where they began a long term engagement at the
club Cafe Society. There they were seen by President Franklin D. Roosevelt who
invited them to sing at his 1941 inaugural gala in Washington, D.C. Several
appearances in the White House followed.
Throughout the 1940s, the Gates continued recording the type of rhythmic narrative spirituals that they had pioneered and popularized during the 1930s. In short, they had become a model for thousands of spiritual groups across the country. In fact, the story telling narration of the Gates can be considered a forerunner of today's rap music
to moving to Europe in the 1950s, the Gates recorded over 200 songs, many of
which are now standards among spiritual groups. Some of their more popular
recordings for RCA Victor and Columbia records include "Noah,"
"Swing Down Chariot," "Jezebel," "Shadrack,"
"Wade In The Water" and "Joshua Fought the Battle of
Jericho." The group also appeared in several motion pictures including Star
Spangled Rhythm (with Dick Powell), A
Song Is Born (with Danny Kaye) and Hollywood
(with the Andrew Sisters).
the mid-1950s, the Gates have been living in Paris and performing worldwide. At
last count the Gates have performed in 77 different countries. They are
immensely popular in Europe, performing before packed concert halls and
continuing to record their authentic style of spiritual songs on fast-selling
CDs. In this country, the story of the Gates was the subject of a recent edition
of the National Public Radio series, Wade In The Water. "
Tonight we have the honor not only of
welcoming the Golden Gate Quartet to NYC for the UGHA Hall of Fame Awards
Ceremony, but also of hearing them sing. Prior to this weekend, the Gates have
not performed publicly in the United States since Christmas day 1957, vdien they
played Harlem's Apollo Theater with Al Hibbler and Illinois Jacquet. Tonight vve
honor the Golden Gate Quartet: Orlandus Wilson, Clyde Riddick, Clyde Wright,
Paul Brembly along with their earliest and latest pianists, Conrad Frederick and
Alain Duchesne. We also take time to remember some former members who have
either passed on or could not be with us tonight: A.C. Griffin, Robert Ford,
Willie Johnson, Henry Owens, Bill Langford, Alton Bradley, Cliff Givens, Orville
Brooks, Caleb Ginyard, Gene Muniford and Calvin Williams. For 60 years of
exquisite vocal harmony, we thank the Golden Gate Quartet.
Web Author's Note
Orlandus Wilson and Clyde Riddick have since passed away.
Deep River Boys
Deep River Boys trace their origins to 1936, where they began as a quartet
representing Hampton Institute in Virginia (now Hampton University) the small
black college‑in a career that spanned over 50years, the "Deeps"
are veterans of stage, radio, film and record. They catapulted to success in the
late 1930s through a national broadcast daily radio program on the CBS network.
the decade of the 1940s, the group released over 30 records, appeared in
numerous Broadway shows and even filmed a number of 11 soundies," the
forerunners of today's music videos. With a very prolific, multi‑language
recording career, the Deep River Boys recorded for such labels as Majestic,
Bluebird, RCA Victor, and EMI, Pilotone, Beacon and in the languages of
Norwegian, Swedish, Danish as well as, of course, English. A few of their more
notable recordings are: " I Don't Know Why I Love You Like I Do,"
"September Song," "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,"
"It Had To Be You," quarter-million seller, "The Mumbles
Song , What Did He Say" (inspired by famed Dick Tracy character
"Mumbles"), "Lucky Black Cat," "Ashes of Roses."
Among Harry's own noted favorites are: "Sleepy Little Cowboy,"
"St. Louis Blues," international big-seller, "He's Got The Whole
World In His Hands."
group regularly toured Europe in the 1950s, performed at the White House in
1955, and even toured Africa under sponsorship of the State Department.
Leader Harry Douglas had kept the group active withstanding about fifteen
personnel changes through the I 950s, 60s and 70s, while maintaining the top
quality that first brought them to the attention of the public while operating
from New York as a home base, As late as the mid-70s. Harry had toured with a
Deep River Boys group, recording a live album in Winnipeg, Canada. Now
approaching the "young" age of 80, Harry plans to return to recording
with the UGHA label.
Deep River Boys, known mainly as a spiritual/pop quartet had the pleasure during
their illustrious career to record with the Count Basie Orchestra as well as
back up famous artists like Thelma Carpenter and Fats Walter. Lead singer Harry
Douglass, a remarkable individual and example of eternal youth, still performs
occasionally at UGHA functions, backed up the by the acappella group, Things To
Come, who Harry has known since they were small children growing up in the
Jamaica section of Queens, NY. They will sing on this very special night of
April 9, 1994 for Harry Douglass, as warm, considerate and passionate a human
being as one could ever meet, is inducted into the UGHA Hall of Fame along with
the Deep River Boys. Joining Harry tonight is original tenor Vernon
Gardner (82 years of age), who sang with the Deeps from 1936-56. Original bass
Edward Ware passed away in the 1960s. Sadly, the other living original member
George Lawson, is not well enough to join us.
are both very grateful and proud to have the charming Harry Douglass and the
Deep River Boys be an integral part of UGHA, and to now be inducted into the UGHA Hall of Fame. Harry has indeed been a delight
and an inspiration to our music and to the UGHA.
The "Mighty Dells" were formed in the early
1950s in Harvey, Illinois out of Thornton Township High School. The Dells have
miraculously transcended five decades of hit records with only one personnel
change. Chuck Barksdale, Marvin Junior, Verne Allison, Johnny Funches, Mickey
& Lucius McGill - a six-man vocal group had a common dream: to record like
their idols the Ravens, Dominoes, Clovers and others. They chose the name
"El-Rays" (sic) which was allegedly, an idea taken from Mickey
McGill's Spanish language textbook. "Los Reyes" means "The
Kings" in Spanish', apparently, for whatever reason, they chose to change
By 1953, the group felt confident enough to venture
into Chess Records in nearby Chicago where they landed their first recording
contract. By this time, Lucius McGill had dropped out, making this group a
quintet. One release on Leonard Chess' Checker label followed: "Darling I
Know" b/w "Christine." With no success and no intention by Chess
to record the group again, they walked across the street to Vee Jay Records and
shortly after, signed their second recording contract. Upon the insistence of
VeeJay owner, Vivian Carter, they changed their name to the "Dells,"
and the group started their illustrious 40+ years as a top-rated R&B group.
This time, the name was influenced by the nearby Wisconsin Dells resort area.
group's first release "Tell The World" sold well locally only. The
second release, however, "Dreams of Contentment" managed to break out
of Illinois, giving the group national exposure for the first time. The third
Vee Jay release brought the group prominence as "Oh What A Nite" in
1956 topped the R&B charts. Eight less successful hits followed, including
the collectors' favorites: "Why Do You Have To Go," "A Distant
Love," "Pain In My Heart" and "Dry Your Eyes." At this
time, the group took a two-year hiatus due to an auto accident while
enroute to Philadelphia that disabled Mickey McGill for a year.
decision to return to show business in 1960 was not shared by Johnny Funches'
wife as she persuaded her husband to stay at home. He was replaced by veteran
Flamingos singer, Johnny Carter, who had returned to Chicago after serving two
years in the U.S. Army. This group as such has stayed intact over the last 35
years. Some of their bigger hits during this period include "Stay In My
Corner," a remake of "Oh What A Nite," "There Is" and
"Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation." They did back-up work on many
recordings including some by these well known artists: Jerry Butler, Wade
Flemmons, Etta James, Barbara Lewis, Ted Taylor, Dinah Washington and Andre
Williams. Recently the Dells recorded the soundtrack and provided inspiration
for the motion picture, The Five
When one thinks of the early 1960s and
its outstanding R&B vocal groups, The Jive Five is one group that is bound
to come to mind. From Hart Street and Myrtle Avenue in the Bedford-Stuyvesant
section of Brooklyn, came five young men whose first recording on the Belton
record label in the spring of 1961 was to bring them lasting success. Eugene
Pitt, lead; Jerome Hanna, first tenor; Richard Harris, second tenor Thurmon
"Billy" Prophet, baritone and Norman Johnson, bass comprise the
original Jive Five. "My True Story," released in May of 1961 hit the
to 100 in July and soon climbed to #3 in Billboard and to #6 in Cashbox. T
Jive Five's second release of 1961
"Never, Never" met with moderate success. January of 1962 saw the Jive
Five's third infallible recording "No, Not Again," followed by their
fourth recording and biggest hit, "What Time Is It." The recording
sessions continued for Beltone in 1962-63 producing “Wedding Bells?," "Lily Marlane,"
"Rain," "The Girl With The Wind In Her Hair" and "Hurry
Personnel changes took place with
Spencer Smith joining the Jive Five in 1962, and Beatrice Best joining in 1963.
After leaving Beltone in 1964, Pitt and the Jive Five revived the Love Notes'and
Otis Williams & His Charms' 1957 ballad, "United" for the Sketch
label. In 1965, after signing with the United Artists label, the group hit the
national charts once again with " I'm A Happy Man" - an amazing
feat considering this was a time when the charts were loaded with the likes of
the British Invasion. More releases subsequently on United Artists including
another hit, "A Bench In The Park." The late 60s and early 70s brought
Jive Five recordings on the Musicor and Decca labels before the changing of the
spelling of their name to "Jyve Fyve" for the Avco Embassy label in
All their classic Beltone recordings
were preserved on an album on the Relic label in the mid-70s. In 1984 the Jive
Five were recording again, this time for CBS Records' Ambient Sound label which
saw the release of an album. Two years later, in 1986 came the release of yet
another album recorded for Boston-based label, Rounder Records.
Still very popular and performing
widely today, the current Jive Five makeup consists of original lead Eugene
Pitt, along with Spencer Smith and Beatrice Best. On first tenor and bass since
1980 are Eugene's brothers, Frank and Herbert respectively. Tonight at the UGHA
4th Annual Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony we salute today's Jive Five makeup as
well as two other surviving original members, Billy Prophet and Richard Harris.
little argument it could be stated that the Nutmegs are a highly underrated
group, highly overshadowed by the commercial success of certain other groups.
Held with high regard by vocal harmony record collectors, the casual vintage
vocal group listener generally recognizes their two local northeast coast hits,
"Story Untold" and "Ship Of Love."
from the Elmhaven Projects in New Haven, CT, the Lyres, as they were first
known, consisted of Leroy Griffin, James Griffin, James Tyson, Billy Emery and
Leroy McNeil. In 1953 the original version of "Ship Of Love" was
released for the local New Haven J&G record label by the Lyres. By late 1954
they ventured to NYC and auditioned for Al Silver's Herald record label. Silver
loved the group but did not care for their name and thus the Nutmegs were born.
"Story Untold" b/w "Make Me Lose My Mind" was released in
late March of 1955 and soon rose to #1 on Cashbox's NY R&B charts. By June
4, 1955 "Story Untold" entered Billboard's National R&B charts,
peaking at #2. The Nutmegs 2nd release, "Ship Of Love," a remake of
their first recording also did quite .vell on both the NY and national R&B
charts. The Nutmegs' hits ended there.
Sorrows," "Key To The Kingdom" and "Comin'
Horne"/"A Love So True" excellent releases were lost in the
competitiveness of the R&B recording industry during 1956-57. At this time,
baritone Billy Emery left the group and was replaced by James "Sonny"
Washburn. Another group name change was in order by 1957 as the Rajahs
started recording for New Haven's small independent Klik record label. Again
calling themselves the Nutmegs, in 1959 the collectors' favorite "Dream Of
Love" was recorded for the Tel label and soon thereafter, Silver invited
the group back to his Herald label. The Griffins' nephew Harold Jaynes, joined
the group in 1962 for the last Herald recording session.
early 60s saw the release of many great acappella masters from circa 1957-58 on
the Times Square label geared to the first generation of R&B vocal group
fans. The Nutmegs great lead Leroy Griffin, legendary bass Leroy McNeil as
well as other original members Billy Emery and James "Coco" Tyson have
passed. Tonight the Nutmegs are proudly inducted into the UGHA Hall of Fame
represented by original first tenor James "Sonny" Griffin and two
other important members: James "Sonny" Washburn and Harold Jaynes.
one speaks of the 1950s most popular groups with the most charted hits, one
speaks, without doubt, of the Platters. Formed in Los Angeles in 1953, the
Platters became the most successful black group in history and the first rock
& roll group to cross from the rhythm & blues charts to the pop charts
the early I 950s, L.A.'s three big high schools: Fremont, Jefferson and
Centennial, all of which served the black community spawned dozens of R&B
vocal groups and artists. One group, the "Flamingoes" (name quickly
changed after the Chicago group gained notoriety) was built around the nucleus
of Alex Hodge, Cornelius Gunter, Joe Jefferson and Curtis Williams - all
classmates at Jefferson High School. Before they could record, Gunter formed his
own group, the Flairs and Williams, formed his own, the Penguins. Jefferson
became a driver and Hodge became a parttime member of the newly-named Platters.
Permanent members were David Lynch, born in St. Louis in 1929 (moved to L.A. in
1942),- Herbert Reed, from Kansas, MO (settled in L.A. after having been a
member of the Wings Over Jordan Choir); and Tony Williams, who was born in
Elizabeth, NJ in 1928 (moved out to
L.A. in 1953, after an invitation from his wellknown, singing sister, Linda
September 15, 1953, the Platters had their first recording session with Federal
Records. Tony Williams, lead; Alex Hodge, tenor; David Lynch, baritone and Herb
Reed, bass. Their second session was January of 1954. At this time Buck Ram, who
had become their manager, brought in a fifth member, I 5-year old Zola Taylor,
who had been singing with Shirley Gunter's Queens. After the Platters' last
recording session with Federal on September 28, 1954, Hodge was replaced with
New Orleans born, Paul Robi, not just a singer, but an accomplished pianist and
arranger. There were nine records in all on Federal 1953-56 including the
original, uncommercial and quite interesting version of "Only You" and
two reissues of three previously released songs in late '55 and early '56.
Meanwhile, the Platters moved on to hit the charts for the Mercury label where
they made the blatant transformation from R&B to much more overtly pop
1956, Billboard gave the Platters the well deserved title of Top Vocal Group in
both the pop and R&B categories. They earned a tremendous sixteen gold and
two platinum records during their career. Some of their bigger hits include
"Only You," "The Great Pretender," "The Magic
Touch," "My Prayer," "Twilight Time" and "Smoke
Gets In Your Eyes."
lead singer Tony Williams passed away in 1992. Second tenor David Lynch and
baritone Paul Robi also passed away during the last few years. Original bass
Herb Reed and tenor Zola Taylor each maintain performing Platters groups. We
hope they, and Tony's widow will attend the UGHA Hall of Fame 4th Annual Awards
historians believe that R&B music began in small clubs along Baltimore's
Pennsylvania Avenue. This may very well be, since certainly in the early days of
R&B, Baltimore contributed to more than its share of influential vocal
groups. One such group, the Swallows, were formed in 1946 when a group of 13
year old songsters named themselves the Oakaleers. With the influence of famed
Baltimore "bird" group, tile Orioles, the youngsters changed their
name to the Swallows following the trend of groups who were likening themselves
to just about every commonly known species of bird.
recording career began when they signed a deal with King Records in 1951. With
an ever‑apparent Clyde McPhatter (Dominoes) influenced high tenor voice,
Eddie Rich was the group's lead on their smooth renditions of
"Dearest" and "Will You Be Mine" the latter of which became
a minor hit on the R&B charts. Other great Rich tenor lead ballads followed:
"Wishing For You," "Since You've Been Away,"
"Eternally," "You Left Me," "Tell Me Why," and
"I'll Be Waiting" their last release on King. In the studio, the
Swallows' second tenor Herman Denby was fooling with Charles Brown imitations,
and the record company asked him to lead some tunes in this style. This opened a
new dimension for the group with Herman leading songs like "I Only Have
Eyes For You" and "Beside You" which reached #8 on'the R&B
charts in August of 1952. Bass Norris Mack also sang lead on some jump sides:
"It Ain't The Meat" and "Bicycle Tillie."
entered the service, Rich kept the group going through the remainder of their
King sides and subsequent releases on the After Hours and Federal labels. On the
Federal label, the lead chores were shared with local Baltimore talent, Calvin
Kollette who had previously sang with the Honey Boys. In the early 1980s Eddie
Rich reformed the Swallows to record again for the Philadelphia based Starbound
Records. Denby who had recently been singing with the Cardinals, another UGHA
Hall of Fame group born out of Baltimore's prolific R&B history, has
reunited with Rich to once again make this legendary group complete. UGHA is
proud to enter this pioneer R&B group in its Hall of Fame and be able to
present Eddie Rich and Herman Denby with their Swallows as one of our special
featured acts at the UGHA Hall of Fame 4th Annual Awards Ceremony.
HOME PAGE - ABOUT UGHA - MEMBERSHIP - PHOTO GALLERY - UGHA FAMILY - HALL OF FAME - MERCHANDISE
NEWS NOTES - TOP 500 - COOL LINKS - DIRECTIONS