The Deep River Boys ©JCMarion
The Deep River Boys had their genesis on the campus of Hampton Institute in Virginia in the mid thirties. They found their first success in winning radio's "Amateur Hour" competition. This notoriety led to opportunities to appear on stage and in radio. During the Second World War the group did extensive touring for the USO and provided entertainment for American troops overseas. The members for most of the life of the group were Harry Douglas, Jimmy Lundy, Ed Ware, and Vernon Gardner. In the late forties the group toured with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and made some very early TV appearances with Ed Sullivan and Milton Berle.
By 1950 the Deep River Boys realize that they are a solid draw in Canada and do an extended engagement in Montreal. They return to the U.S. for a television appearance with Ed Sullivan to premier their new recording for RCA called "Down In The Glen". The group does another long engagement in Philadelphia before they get ready for a return visit to Europe. In July they do a new vocal version of "Tuxedo Junction" for RCA with Erskine Hawkins, the song's writer. Earlier in the year they had done the same for the tune "Solid As A Rock" with the Count Basie band. In September the Deep River Boys get a citation in England naming them as the most popular entertainers for American service personnel in England. They then sign on for a record breaking ten week stay at the London Palladium. After a triumphant return from England the group opens the new year in Montreal. Although their popularity in England and Canada is obvious, their records do not sell and because of this they leave RCA and go to independent Beacon Records in early 1952.
The first release for the new label is "If I Had To Do It All Over Again" / "Give Me A Break". In late May of that year "Sleepy Little Cowboy" is released and label owner Joe Davis has a three minute promotional cartoon done for the record which id forwarded to all interested parties. However like most of the past records by the group, it is a failure. "Truthfully" / "It Doesn't Make Sense To Me" is out that summer but it too, does not do well. In the spring of the following year, the Deep River Boys are back on RCA Records. "The Biggest Fool" / "Ooh Shoo Be Doo Be" is released and the results are the same. In September, the group with Cam Williams replacing Jim Lundy, sign for a nine week appearance at the London Palladium. In the springtime of 1954, the group finds themselves on Beacon Records for a second time. "No One Else Will Do" / "Truthfully" (from a previous Beacon session) is released. Beacon also re-releases "Sleepy Little Cowboy".
The group continued to have sporadic record releases on labels such as Vik (an RCA subsidiary), Gallant, and Wand. The Deep River Boys appeared well into the 1980s, fifty years after their founding, and have left a legacy of fine performances and recordings, and have set a standard for professionalism and longevity that are to be envied by everyone.
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