Delta Witchcraft - The Spiders ©1999JCMarion


The Spiders, like so many other R & B vocal groups of the 1950s, emanated from the field of gospel music. In earlier time beginning in 1947, they were known as Zion Harmonizers and later The Delta Southern-Aires. After a time it was suggested to the group that they develop their music into an R & B style. They settled on the name The Spiders, and the members were Hayward (Chuck) Carbo lead singer for the New Orleans based group, Len (Chick) Carbo sang baritone, Matthew West was tenor as was Joe Maxon, and Oliver Howard sang bass. Lew Chudd the head of Imperial Records announced the signing of The Spiders soon after New Year's day in 1954. They soon had the first release for Imperial - #5265 : "I Didn't Want To Do It" / "You're The One". The record paid immediate dividends, as it was a strong seller in the first months of 1954, and made an appearance in the top sellers list of rhythm & blues records. In April the second side #5280 was issued by Imperial. "Tears Begin To Flow" and "I'll Stop Crying". By now The Spiders were a hot item and made a week long personal appearance at New York's Apollo Theater on a strange bill that had the group with Charlie Barnet's Orchestra and Guitar Slim (Eddie Jones). "Tears" is a solid seller in the South and soon the third release by the group was released. This one paired "I'm Slippin' In" and "I'm Searching" on #5291 during July.

The Spiders headed West for the first time appearing with the Jake Porter Orchestra in a number of night spots in California. "I'm Slippin' In" was a solid hit that got into the top ten R & B sellers in the country. The group headed to the East Coast and teamed up with Charles Brown for a well received series of one nighters in the East. The next Imperial release was "Mmm Mmm Baby" / "The Real Thing" on #5305, and this time the record was a big seller throughout the Midwest. In late October the group is part of the traveling review called The Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame Show along with Faye Adams, Amos Milburn, Joe Morris Orchestra with Al Savage, and The Orioles. The show does extensive touring in the Midwest. A November release was Imperial #5318 - "21" / "She Keeps Me Wondering". The tune "21" (or "Twenty One") proves to be another winner for the group and makes the national charts. The following February of 1955 sees The Spiders tour Southern California with Chuck Willis. During the spring and early summer two unsuccessful singles are released - #5344 - "Am I The One' / "Sukey Sukey Sukey" and #5354 - "Just For A Thrill" and "Bells In My Heart". In late October The Spiders are back in the recording studio and record a Dave Bartholomew tune "Witchcraft". The longtime associate of Fats Domino wrote a real winner for the group. The bass led uptempo tune turned out to be the Spiders biggest seller and their most widespread national hit record ever.

At the same time there were forces at work that would cause dissension and jealousy among members of the group and lead to its eventual dissolution. Lew Chudd had the idea that he could make a successful solo performer out of lead singer Chuck Carbo and so the seeds of distrust were sown. "Don't Pity Me" and "How I Feel" was released as by Chuck Carbo and The Spiders in January of 1956. The next release did well for the group. "A-1 In My Heart" was a solid seller and kept the group's name in the public eye. The flip of this side #5393 was "Dear Mary". The last release by the group during the year was #5405 - "That's The Way To Win My Heart" and "Goodbye". This time the record disappears almost as fast as it appears on the scene. By now Chuck Carbo is on Imperial and Atlantic follows suit and signs Chick Carbo to its label. Neither one does anything of importance as a solo performer. There is one last effort by the group (again released as by Chuck Carbo & The Spiders) on Imperial #5423 - "That's My Desire" and "Honey Bee". Neither side clicks and the end of the group is at hand. For whatever reason, Imperial saw fit to release a Spiders record in 1960 - #5714 - "Tennessee Slim" / "You're The One" but the day is done as far as the quintet is concerned.

So ends the story of the most famous vocal group to come out of the city of New Orleans, a city with as rich a musical heritage as any. Any collection of the R & B music created in the Crescent City would have to include The Spiders as part of the history of the time and of the town.

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