We'll Be Forever Loving You-The Eldorados

In Chicago's Englewood High School in the year of 1953 and into 1954, once again a group of young men lifted their voices in song and provided the sound of harmony that was so prevalent in those times. The group that took center stage among the would-be practitioners of R & B vocal group styles were a fivesome that called themselves the Five Stars. The members of this group were lead singer Arthur Bassett, tenors Pirkle Lee Moses Jr. and Jewell Jones, baritone James Maddox, and bass singer Richard Nickens. A sometimes sixth member was Louis Bradley for the Chicago group. In the spring of 1954 the boys felt that they were ready to expand their horizons in the business of making music, and so entered the amateur talent show held at the top site of entertainment in Chicago's Black community, the Club Delisa. The Five Stars were good enough to win first place in the show and found themselves under the guidance of the one and only, "Ol' Swingmaster" himself, Al Benson. Soon they were connected with Vivian Carter Bracken of Gary, Indiana's Vivian's Record Shop and the proprietor of the new Vee-Jay Record Company.

Vee-Jay #115 "My Loving Baby" and "Baby I Need You" by the newly named El Dorados was released in July and was soon named as a pick hit and best bet of the week by by Cashbox . An added plus was the fact that Vivian Carter was also an R & B disc jockey for WGRY and was able to give her new record extensive airplay (what conflict of interest ?). The group got some local fame with their first outing on record and were soon back in the recording studio this time as a backup to a budding female singer named Hazel McCollum. The result of this vocal collaboration was Vee-Jay #118. One side was an obvious answer record to The Midnighters series of "Annie" records that had swept the R & B world in 1954. The song was called "Annie's Answer", and the flip side was a jump blues tribute to Vee-Jay's president called "Living With Vivian" recorded with the Al Smith Combo. This record remains as basically a collector's item and curiosity piece from that era.

By the fall of the year 1954, The El Dorados had shifted the personnel lineup around a bit. The new lead singer was Pirkle Lee Moses Jr., who took the place of the departed Arthur Bassett. The group started getting in person gigs around the Chicago area such as the Sam Evans "Jam With Sam" show in October which also featured Howlin'Wolf, Guitar Slim, and Willie Mabon. The next month found The El Dorados at the Fifth Avenue Ballroom with deejay McKee Fitzhugh along with The Capris, Five Echoes, and Eddie Boyd. The quintet wrapped up the year appearing at the annual Goodwill Benefit in Memphis run by radio station WDIA at the Ellis Auditorium.

In March of 1955 the group tried again with Vee-Jay #127 - "One More Chance" and "Little Miss Love". This was the "lost"Eldorados record as it seemed to vanish almost as soon as it hit the streets. Even to this day very few copies of the original Vee-Jay release are ever featured at collector's shows or auctions,or are ever played on radio stations specializing in the oldies format. The fortunes of the group were about to change forever in a short period of time. An infectious rocker was recorded by the group, one that featured a distinctive instrumental intro with sax, piano, and bass (no drums), and then was reprised as a final musical statement to wrapup the song (no usual fadeout this time). The song was "At My Front Door", and it caught the ear of listeners everywhere. The record was issued in late July and by Labor Day weekend it was a smash. Vee-Jay #147 (with flipside "What's Bugging You Baby") was moving on to the pop music charts. Its hit status was assured when Pat Boone issued a cover version on Dot Records.

"At My Front Door" was turning into a national sensation and was commonly referred to as "Crazy Little Mama". It established itself as the biggest selling record in the history of Vee-Jay Records, and instantly propelled The Eldorados and Pirkle Lee Moses Jr. into the national spotlight. Everywhere the group appeared they were the ones most in demand such as a bill at the Howard Theater in D.C. where they shared the stage with Lavern Baker, Al Hibbler, The Sweethearts, and Red Prysock. The entire fall of 1955 was owned by The Eldorados and their super rendition of the song. By the end of the year the group and Vee-Jay was ready with their followup attempt called "I'll Be Forever Loving You" and a ballad side called "I Began To Realize".

In early 1956 the group was presented an early surprise when the ballad side of Vee-Jay #165 - "I Began To Realize" broke out first as a good seller in the Midwest. As The Eldorados completed a West coast swing in January however, the jump side began to take hold. Listeners seemed to like the complicated background, the change in tempo on the bridge (sort of a tango feel), and the lead vocal abilities of Moses. The tune was capped by a great ending, again evoking the musical technique of the Argentinean tango. In early 1956 on the strength of these two blockbuster efforts, The Eldorados were perhaps the most in demand R & B vocal group in the business. They seemed to be everywhere. They did a series of dates throughout New Jersey with Ramon Bruce along with The Heartbeats and Sam "The Man" Taylor; a long stay (two months) at Chicago's Trianon Ballroom with the whole roster of Vee-Jay Records recording artists; a quick tour of Texas; and a second West Coast swing which included their first television spot in Los Angeles in March with Zeke Manners.

While on the West coast in mid April, Vee-Jay #180 - "Now That You've Gone"/ "Rock & Roll's For Me" is released. The group does big box office in both Portland and Seattle, while "Rock & Roll's For Me" reports good sales in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and also in Kansas City. However in most other areas the record does not do well.At this time Richard Nickens left the group and they continue on as a quartet. In late May the Eldorados return to the Midwest and appear at the Colonial Theater in Milwaukee with Chuck Berry and Little Walter. The group does big business in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania with Roy Gaines and The Heartbeats. In July Vee-Jay #197 is released pairing "A Fallen Tear" and the novelty number "Chop Ling Soon". This record also does next to nothing,but the group keeps on touring to great receptions.

In mid August The Eldorados do a week at the Apollo Theater in New York with Clyde McPhatter and the Buddy Johnson Orchestra with Ella Johnson,and the next month at the Memorial Auditorium in Chicago with The Dells and Otis Rush. In October the group tries to recapture their former hit making status with a tune called "Bim Bam Boom" and a ballad called "There In The Night" for Vee-Jay #211. The jump side does better than recent efforts by the group but not anywhere near the hits from 1955. In December in nearby Waukegan, The Eldorados join label mates The Spaniels and Kool Gents for a show. The group will cap off the year with a week back at New York's Apollo. Right after New Year's of 1957 The Eldorados released a fine ballad called "A Rose For My Darling"on Vee-Jay #250.The flip was "Tears On My Pillow"(not the well known song by that name), and once again sales and airplay are fleeting.

At this point in time The Eldorados imploded and remained in name only. Pirkle Lee Moses Jr. left and the remaining three members (Bradley, Jones, and Maddox) got together with new lead singer Marvin Smith and recorded one side for Academy Records as The Four Eldorados on #8138 - "A Lonely Boy" and "Go Little Susie". Meanwhile Delecta (Dee) Clark had left The Kool Gents and so Moses became the new lead singer of the Gents but recoded under the name The Eldorados. This group had two releases for Vee-Jay in 1958 : #263 - "Three Reasons Why" / "Boom Diddle Boom"; and #302 - "Lights Are Low" / "Oh What A Girl". Neither one made a mark on the charts, and the name of The Eldorados was now part of music history. Every decade there seems an attempt to resurrect the group (in name anyway), but the glory days for this Chicago group were over.

For that brief and shining moment in history during the latter half of 1955 and early 1956, The Eldorados were the kings of the R & B vocal group world, and because of the massive hit status of their signature tune "At My Front Door" (and to a lesser extent the excellent followup "I'll Be Forever Loving You"), the group is guaranteed that whenever the sounds of the fifties are being played, they will be part of the story.

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