The (Singing) Wanderers©1999JCMarion


This group began their career in the early fifties known as The Barons. The members were Ray Pollard on lead, Frank Joyner on tenor, the baritone voice was Robert Yarbrough and the bass was Shep Grant. In early 1953 they came to the attention of Newark based label Savoy Records and were signed to a recording contract in mid October. The first release by the group was soon out on Savoy #1109 - "Hey Mae Ethel" and "We Could Find Happiness". The record got enough airplay in the New York area to allow the group to start making in person appearances. Their first big gig came in December of that year when they appeared at Harlem's Club Baby Grand as the opening act for Big Maybelle. After the new year The Wanderers had a chance to hit the road and make personal appearances in other parts of the country. They appeared with Galdys (Glad Rags) Patrick at Detroit's famous Flame Show Bar in February, and the next month toured with Tiny Grimes and his band through Ohio and Indiana. One last release for Savoy was in the role of backup vocals for Dolly Cooper on #1121 - "Love Can Be Blind" / "Be Good To Yourself".

By the middle of 1954 the group had left Savoy and were now on Decca Records. Their stay with the old major label did not bring much success. Decca #29230 was "Say Hey Willie Mays" and "Don't Drop It", which was an obvious try at the topical novelty category. The follow up on Decca #29298 returned them to their strong suit of the ballad - "Three Roses" and "The Wrong Party Again". They played pop music venues and appeared with non R & B acts to try and broaden their appeal. Even an appearance on Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town TV show in 1955 did not do the trick for the group. In 1957 the group now called simply The Wanderers appeared on one of New York's great indie labels, Onyx Records. They recorded a pop tune called "Thinking Of You" which was familiar to New Yorkers as the theme song to Brad Phillips radio show "Battle Royal" (in a version by smooth pop vocal group The Honeydreamers) and the response to the Wanderers version was good. It was their best known record and gave their career some direction.

Soon after "Thinking Of You"ran its course on the pop charts and dropped from the radio playlist, Onyx Records was taken over by a major label, in this case MGM. They moved the group to the short lived Orbit Records label run by Onyx head Jerry Winston. The label soon changed names a month later (in April of 1958) because of the proliferation of small labels using that name. The new label was called Cub, and the first release by The Wanderers on the new label was the withdrawn Orbit 9003 release "Teenaged Quarrel" / "My Shining Hour" and now on Cub 9003. In the late 50s a number of records on the Cub label were released but all met with little or no success. There was "Two Hearts on a Windowpane" (#9019), "Please" (#9023), "I'm Not Ashamed" / "Only When You're Lonely" (9035), "I Walked Through A Forest" (9054), and "I Need You More" / "I Could Make You Mine" (9075).

By 1961 it had been just about a decade in the business for The Wanderers without too much success on records for the group.Just about the time they were ready to call it a career as the music moved away from the standard R & B group sound, they met with critical and commercial success with a version of Ed Townsend's 1957 classic ballad "For Your Love" on Cub #9089. It made the national pop charts in the summer of 1961 and was a favorite of the East Coast vocal group fans. The followup on #9094 was a group ballad rendition of Sinatra's early forties tune "I'll Never Smile Again". The last record by the group in 1961 was called "Somebody Else's Sweetheart" coupled with another pop standard ballad "As Time Goes By". The original ballad did well and as it moved up in the national charts the Cub label record was switched to the parent MGM label. It was the best pop chart performer the group had ever recorded. Because it came at the end of the R & B vocal group era, the group was dropped by MGM in 1962.

This still was not the end of The Wanderers. They were signed to the United Artists label in 1962 and had two releases for UA. "After He Breaks Your Heart" was released in late 1962 on #570, and the following year "You Can't Run Away From Me" on #648. Neither record was a factor in the sales or airplay categories. From then on The Wanderers performed sporadically in the Northeast. Ray Pollard, the lead voice for all those years landed a role in the Broadway musical "Purlie" and began to make club appearances as a solo performer doing a wide variety of styles and songs.

The history of The Wanderers (and Singing Wanderers) lasted for two decades, and in that time fame and fortune certainly bypassed the group for most of that period of time. They may be known only for one hit in each decade of the era("Thinking Of You" in the fifties, and "Somebody Else's Sweetheart" in the sixties), but in their longevity they remained a classic vocal group that defined an era.

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