Kool Gents / Delegates ©2000JCMarion©©©©


The Kool Gents had their genesis in another Chicago vocal group called The Goldentones. The quintet was formed by Cicero Blake, who unfortunately left soon after to enlist in the U.S. military. The group found a new lead singer named Delecta Clark (one of the "Hambone Kids" on the early fifties hit with Club Delisa's band leader Red Saunders for Okeh Records),and tenors Doug Brown and John McCall (who also sang lead), Ted Long on baritone, and bass singer Johnny Carter. Clark persisted in pitching his group to WGES radio personality Hal Kent who used the nickname "The Kool Gent". The persistence paid off and soon the group had changed their name in honor of their benefactor, and so The Kool Gents were auditioning for James Bracken and Vivian Carter of Vee-Jay Records.

In November of 1955, the first release for the group on Vee-Jay #173 was issued - "This Is The Night" and "Do Ya Do". Outside of the Chicago area, the record was unknown and today is a valuable collector's item as an original issue 45. The group was backed up by the Vee-Jay house band led by Al Smith. During the spring of the following year the Kool Gents tried again on Vee-Jay with #207, this time with Delecta Clark on lead. The ballad 'A' side was "I Just Can't Help Myself" and the flip side was "You Know". The featured tune did get airplay across the country but seemed to get swallowed up in the vast number of vocal group sides released during that most prolific year of 1956. The great lead of Clark has made that recording special for all these years and "I Just Can't Help Myself" has become a true classic of the style.

That summer there was an interesting development by Vee-Jay Records when they had a takeoff on the political conventions going on at the time. The song was called oddly enough, "The Convention". It was recorded by The Kool Gents under the name The Delegates. It was filled with R & B references in a political situation. For example - Chairman : "The chair recognizes delegate Frankie Lymon". Lymon : in a pretty good imitation of a singing Frankie doing a wordless intro and then "where is your platform ?". Chairman : "I am standing on it !" and so on and so on. The flip was an instrumental by sax blaster Big Jay McNeely called "Jay's Rock" and the pair was released on Vee-Jay #212. Again the tune got airplay but lit no fires on the sales charts. There was one more record by the group under the name The Delegates. Vee-Jay #243 was released right after the new year on #243 - "Mother's Son" and "I'm Gonna Be Glad". The 'A' side of "Mother's Son" was originally recorded by a group called The DeBonaires for Ping Records. Once again fame and fortune of any measure eluded the group, and Delecta Clark left the group to pursue a career as a solo artist. As Dee Clark he managed a string of hits for Vee-Jay that have made his memory live forever in the history of vintage R & B music.

By the time Dee Clark had left, The Kool Gents / Delegates were done as a recording entity for Vee-Jay or anyone else. They had never been able to fulfill their promise as a quintet, but remain as part of the history of the music, even though they are but an afterthought as part of the story of the Doowop Nation.

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