Phil Phillips

Philip Baptiste was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in March of 1926. Philip sang gospel in a group called The Gateway Quartet and worked as a pageboy in a hotel.

Having changed his name to Phil Phillips, he recorded “Sea Of Love”, in 1959. Phil dubbed the vocalists, who supported him on the record, The Twilights, and witnessed the single climb Billboard’s Hot 100 pop chart to peak at No.2. It also entered Billboard’s rhythm and blues chart, where it afforded him a No.1 hit.

Regardless, Phil Phillips was to receive little or no payment for the single’s success. He, therefore, turned his back on the recording industry although he did become a disc jockey, in Louisiana.

“Sea Of Love” was revived by Del Shannon, in 1981, and, in 1984-’85, the essentially British group, The Honeydrippers, experienced international success when it, too, revived the song. The Honeydrippers had as its nucleus two former members of Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, as well as Jeff Beck, who, like Jimmy Page, had been a member of The Yardbirds, in the 1960s, before branching out on a solo career.

If you have seen the film, ‘Sea Of Love’, from 1989, you might recall that Al Pacino’s character repeatedly plays a 45 of Phil Phillips’ recording. Personally, I was focusing more on Ellen Barkin’s portrayal.

I have listed Phil Phillips’ recording of “Sea Of Love” on the list of my favourite recordings. This list is located in the suggested playlists.

Bo Diddley

Ellas Otha Bates — also known as Ellas McDaniel — was born in McComb, Mississippi, in 1926. However, he was to spend his formative years in Chicago.

Ellas became a classically trained violinist. He could also design and construct guitars. These included his trademark rectangular models. As a musician he drew inspiration from gospel, blues, rhythm and blues and whatever else took his fancy.

Popular music was in a state of turmoil in 1955, as rock and roll was erupting. Because no one really knew where the future of music lay, record companies were willing to take a chance on someone with a unique style and sound.

‘Bo Diddley’, as Ellas was now calling himself, cut the self-penned tracks, “Bo Diddley” and “I’m A Man”, in his first session at Chess Records, in March of that year and, in June this double A-sided single rose to No.1 on the rhythm and blues charts. ”

Bo wrote most of the songs he recorded. He is probably more famous for the influence his music had upon artists to come, as opposed to the sales his own recordings generated. In this way his music also influenced future generations.

Musical luminaries such as Buddy Holly (“Mona” and”Bo Diddley”), The Animals (“Road Runner”), The Rolling Stones (“Mona”) and The Yardbirds, and Jimi Hendrix (“I’m A Man”), and The Doors (“Who Do You Love?”) are included amongst these artists. As too, is Australian Craig McLachlan and his group, Check 1-2, who also covered “Mona”, in 1990, taking it to No.3 ‘Down Under’ and No.2 in the United Kingdom, where his role in the television series, “Neighbours”, had already made him popular.

Bo suffered from a stroke, in 2007, which was followed by a heart attack. His heart failed him in June of 2008.

I regard “Who Do You Love?” to be a classic example of early rock. Therefore, I am including it in the list of my favourite recordings. This can be found in the suggested playlists.

Rose Royce

Rose Royce formed in the early 1970s, in Los Angeles. Edwin Starr, a singer of soul on the label, Motown, introduced the octet to that company’s producer, Norman Whitfield, who had had such success with The Temptations.

Initially, the band was known as Total Concept Unlimited and then The Magic Wand. It was while under the latter name that Norman Whitfield recruited a female singer, Gwen Dickey, to lead the group. Gwen was given the stage name of Rose Norwalt. As Norman had been given the opportunity to score the music to the film, ‘Car Wash’, he decided to use The Magic Wand, featuring Rose Norwaldt, in the picture’s soundtrack, but not before changing the band’s name to Rose Royce.

In 1976, even before the film had opened, the world was listening to its main theme, in the form of the pulsating disco single, “Car Wash”. It sold more than a million copies, topping both Billboard’s rhythm and blues and pop singles charts. The group’s second single, “I Wanna Get Next To You”, also from the movie, performed almost as well as its first release.

Rose Royce’s album, ‘In Full Bloom’, was released in 1977. The first single to come from it, “Do Your Dance – Part 1”, was followed by “Ooh Boy” and, finally, “Wishing On A Star”. The following album, ‘Strikes Again!’, is a collection that includes the tracks “I’m In Love (And I Love The Feeling)” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”, a song that was to be revived by Madonna on her album, ‘Like A Virgin’.

“Rose” departed from Rose Royce shortly after the release of the band’s next album, ‘Rainbow Connection’. A year and a half was to pass before the band released its next album, ‘Golden Touch’, in 1981; with new vocalist, Ricci Benson. However, not one single from this album succeeded on the charts in the United States.

The albums, ‘Jump Street’, ‘Stronger Than Ever’ (1982), ‘Fresh Cut’ (1987) and ‘Perfect Cut’ (1989) followed, as the group’s personnel continued to change. By the middle of the 1980s Rose Royce had been reduced to a sextet and prior to the recording of ‘Perfect Lover’ Lisa Taylor had replaced Ricci Benson.

“Car Wash” was revived by Christina Aguilera (featuring Missy Elliott), in 2004.

Little Anthony and The Imperials

Tenor, Anthony Gourdine, was still in high school in Brooklyn, New York, when he helped to form the group, The Duponts. His next group, The Chesters, was to change its name and call itself The Imperials.

Little Anthony and The Imperials’ initial hit, “Tears On My Pillow”, in 1958, was to sell a million copies. This, in spite of the group not being fond of the song. Kylie Minogue revived it in 1989, with it appearing in her film, ‘The Delinquents’.

A short list of singles that had failed to perform as expected led the quintet to record a novelty song, “Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop”. It was to restore the vocal group’s status within the recording industry, as 1959 met 1960.

Nonetheless, further singles failed to chart with impact and, as a result, the group split up. However, by 1964, the members had been convinced that they should re-form and from this reformation the five were to experience their most successful period, with the release of “I’m On The Outside (Looking In)”, the pop standard “Goin’ Out Of My Head”, “Hurt So Good” and “Take Me Back”.

Chris Farlowe

John Henry Deighton was born in October of 1940, in London, England. As Chris Farlowe he became known for his singing of rock, blues and soul.

Being an admirer of Lonnie Donegan, his musical career began in a skiffle group. By 1965 he had recorded the first of what would be eleven singles. Five of these were to be covers of recordings by The Rolling Stones.

One of these five, “Out Of Time”, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richard, was destined to far outshine the other ten recordings, reaching No.1 on the British singles’ charts, in 1966, and No.12 in Australia.

The names of more of my favourite recordings can be found in the suggested playlists. I shall be adding to this list from time to time.

The Drifters

Clyde McPhatter had been the leading singer in The Dominoes. When he was no longer wanted by that group, a new male group was formed around his voice: that of tenor. The Drifters, as this new quartet was called, created a driving vocal style as depicted in its first hit, “Money Honey”, in 1953.

Other classic rhythm and blues numbers followed as the musical revolution that was to become known as rock and roll unfolded. “Such A Night”, which was covered by Johnnie Ray, “Honey Love” and “What’Cha Gonna Do” were all prime examples of this new style.

Clyde McPhatter left The Drifters, to pursue a solo career, in 1955, and, over the years, there followed a succession of leading singers that included Johnny Moore, Johnny Lee Williams, Ben E. King — famed for his solo recordings of “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand By Me” — and Rudy Lewis.

The Drifters struggled to make an impression on the charts in 1957 and 1958 before experiencing a golden period that began with “There Goes My Baby”, in 1959, and virtually ended with “Under The Boardwalk” and “Saturday Night At The Movies”, in 1964. These five years also included such hits as “Save The Last Dance For Me”, “On Broadway” — revived by George Benson in 1978 — and “Up On The Roof”.

Although The Drifters’ run of hits ended in its native America in 1966, for whatever reason, the group’s popularity was unexpectedly reborn in Britain between 1972 and 1976. A series of eight entries to the Top 10 on the British singles’ charts during these five years included “Come On Over To My Place”, “Like Sister And Brother”, “Down On The Beach Tonight”, “Kissin’ In The Back Row Of The Movies”, “Can I Take You Home Little Girl”, “There Goes My First Love” and “You’re More Than A Number In My Book”; with “Hello Happiness” just falling short of joining these aforementioned seven hits. The eighth entry was a double-sided single that reissued the mid-Sixties’ recordings, “At The Club” and “Saturday Night At The Movies”.

The names of additional tracks by The Drifters can be found in the suggested playlists.

Billy Preston

In 1956, at the age of ten, Billy Preston portrayed the young W.C. Handy in ‘St. Louis Blues’. He toured with Little Richard and Ray Charles in the 1960s and, in the middle of that decade, released two instrumental albums, ‘The Most Exciting Organ Ever’ and ‘Wildest Organ In Town!’. Billy also provided the organ solo on The Beatles’ “Get Back”, and, for a time was signed to the group’s Apple label.

As a session artist he worked with such notables as Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Sly Stone, Barbra Streisand and The Rolling Stones. Working with such a diverse array of talent served to demonstrate his far-reaching love of music, which makes it difficult for one to categorise it.

By the middle of the 1970s, while recording under the A&M livery, Billy had reached the height of his fame. The singles “Will It Go Round In Circles”, “Outa-Space” and “Space Race” had already reached No.1 on either the pop or rhythm and blues charts.

Billy Preston co-wrote and recorded “You Are So Beautiful”, in 1974, but it was another artist, Joe Cocker, who was also recording for A&M at the time, who had the hit. Billy left A&M in 1978.

By 1979 he was signed to Motown and it was there that he recorded in duet with Syreeta. Their most successful single was “With You I’m Born Again”; from the film, ‘Fast Break’.

The names of more tracks by Billy Preston can be located in the suggested playlists.


The origins of War can be traced back to 1962 when guitarist, Howard Scott and drummer, Harold Brown, were still in high school, in Los Angeles. By 1965 the pair had added Leroy Jordan, bassist B.B. Dickerson and saxophonist, Charles Miller, and, in total, were known as The Creators.

In 1968, Thomas Sylvester Allen was included, as a percussionist, by which time the group was calling itself The Nightshift. The band was also joined by Englishman, Eric Burdon — who had already experienced a string of international hits, via The Animals — and a Danish player of the harmonica, Lee Oskar.

At a time when the word ‘peace’ was on many people’s lips, this multi-racial new line-up decided to call itself War. It was to remain the backing band to Eric Burdon until 1971, when it branched out on its own.

Belying its name, the band set out to promote harmony and unity. War blended rhythm and blues with latin, pop and jazz. Its music was a forerunner to hip hop and rap.

“Spill The Wine” sold in excess of a million copies, as a single, for Eric Burdon and War, in 1970, a combination that was also to release three albums. Nonetheless, War, as a solo entity, was to record many more albums than that during a period which spanned more than two decades. In addition the group had a series of singles, released between 1972 and 1976, that were to sell equally as well as “Spill The Wine” had.

For the names of more tracks by War, please, consult the suggested playlists.