The (Short) Story of The Aladdins©2005JCMarion


This is the story of one of many hopeful vocal groups singing in the Rhythm & Blues style of the early nineteen fifties. This is about a group of friends on the West Coast, but not from Los Angeles this time. These singers were from the San Diego area are were known as The Capris. This was certainly a popular name for vocal groups of the time. Making the grade using that name were of course a group from Philadelphia and in later years a group of Capris from New York. The group consisted of the Harper brothers Ted and Alfred, Gaylord Green, and Ed Williams. The Capris began singing in late 1952 and soon began to think they had a shot at performing and of course, recording some of their tunes. The group had a advantage in that a member of the Taylor family managed a local theater in San Diego called The Victory which just so happened to hold a series of local talent shows. During one of these shows, the group was heard by an acquaintance of the one and only Johnny Otis and this led to an audition. Otis liked what he heard and saw, and soon the group became part of the Johnny Otis travelling R & B tour company.

After a time on tour with Otis, the group was heard by Eddie Messner who was the head of Aladdin Records in Los Angeles. This label was one of the pioneering independents that had been recording R & B performers since the post war forties. Messner convinced the guys to change the name of the group to coincide with his label and so The Aladdins were born. They began working on a recording session and by mid April of 1955 "Cry Baby Cry" and "Remember" were released on Aladdin # 3275. Eddie Mesner appeared in the trade press pushing for the group and also went east to do pr for the tunes in New York hitting the top R & B radio outlets in the area. Whatever work Mesner did for the record did not pay off as the side did not garner many sales and airplay was short lived. The group was able to get some personal appearance work at clubs in Southern California. In October the label tried again with "I Had A Dream Last Night" and "Get Off My Feet" on Aladdin #3298. Unfortunately for the Aladdins, this record was also a failure as it did not get much in the way of sales or airplay and the group now faced some anxious moments as the label got ready to try again.

In late February of 1956, Aladdin Records released # 3314 featuring the group on the tunes "All Of My Life" and "So Long, Farewell, Bye Bye'. This record followed the pattern of the first two by the group and sold in very limited quantities and was also hurt by poor distribution and light airplay. The end seemed to be at hand for the San Diego group as they had never got off the ground and achieved the popularity that seemed so certain two years ago. It is an often told tale of the recording industry and many vocal groups of the nineteen fifties followed the same road. There was one last record by The Aladdins that contained the tunes "Help Me" and "Lord Show Me The Way" on # 3358. Following the numbered release pattern, this record would have had to be released in January of 1957 (at the same time as "Dreamy Eyes" by The Squires) but any information on this side is extremely difficult to uncover. By that time The Aladdins had been history, and Ed Williams who sang lead on most of the songs joined Al Harper with The Colts, and Ted Harper spent some time singing with the post Dootone version of The Penguins.

This is the story of short and troubled career of The Aladdins, who like so many before (and after) them, had dreams of fame and fortune. They acted on those dreams and for the majority of them the result was something short of what they would have liked. But - they were there and we were witnesses to their trials and tribulations and in many ways we are actually better for having been part of this experience.

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