Truly : Arthur Lee Maye & The Crowns©2005JCMarion


Arthur Lee Maye was born in December of 1934 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. By 1940 his family had left first to Portland, Oregon, and then to settle in Los Angeles and Maye as a teenager attended Jefferson High School in that city. His love for vocalizing music in the then current R & B style of the early nineteen fifties was responsible for his circle of close friends that had a great impact on the muisc of the city and in time, the entire country. Among some of these personalities were Richard Berry, Jesse Belvin, Obie Jessie, Cornell Gunter, and Curtis Williams . They enjoyed working out harmony riffs and songs in high school, on streetcorners, and in neighborhood backyards. The first formal vocal group that Maye sang with was called The Carmels who never recorded.

Maye's first effort on record was for the Flair label of L.A., part of the Bihari brothers stable of R & B record companies along with Modern Music (which was renamed Modern), RPM, and Crown. Los Angeles session man Maxwell Davis put the word out on Maye to local record companies, and soon Flair # 1026 was released as by The 5 Hearts (although only three vocalists were present). The songs were "Please Please Baby" and "Fine One". The two other members of The Hearts were Johnny Coleman and Richard Berry. In October of 1954 Modern Records announces the signing of Arthur Lee Maye as a solo vocalist. At this time Maye who had shown great promise as a baseball player was under a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Braves organization. The first release by Maye with Modern Records came in November with "I Wanna Be Loved" and "Set Me Free" on Modern # 944 as by Arthur Lee Maye & The Crowns who were Charles Colbert and John Morris tenors, Joe Moore baritone, and Johnny Coleman on bass.

In February of 1954 RPM released a recording by the group which listed the songs as by Maye. The songs were "Oochie Pachie" and "Truly" on RPM # 424. By March "Truly" is a good regional hit on the West Coast and some pop music labels are readying cover versions of the song. The second pressing of the record is released by RPM as by Maye and The Crowns. The record has a nice run through the spring until late May when the group records "Love Me Always" and "Loop-De-Loop-De-Loop" on RPM # 429. Once again the original release has credit only to Maye but changes to the full name of the group on the second pressing. Adding to all the confusion and disarray, at about this time Flair Records releases "Sweet Thing" and "Rock Bottom" on # 1066 as by The Rams who are in reality the same trio called the 5 Hearts on an earlier record. In late June "Love Me Always" begins to show up as a good seller on the East Coast, especially in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. In November of the year "Please Don't Leave Me" and "Do The Bop" are released on RPM # 438. The Crowns also backed up old friend Richard Berry on "Please Tell Me" on Flair # 1064. During all this time Maye continued to concentrate on his career in baseball working his way up the ladder of the minor league system.

In 1956 unhappy with the situation (read royalties-the absence therein) Maye moved the group to Specialty Records where as The Crowns they recorded "Gloria" (not the Cadillacs song) and "Oh Rooba (Ruby) Lee" on # 573 in April. The stay at Specialty was short lived and soon Maye and The Crowns hooked up with R & B personality Johnny Otis. This led to Arthur recording covers of R & B hits with the group for the Dig label as The Jayos, and two sides as Arthur Lee Maye on "This Is The Night For Love" and "Honey Honey" on Dig # 124, and "A Fool's Prayer" and "Whispering Wind" on # 133 in late 1956. As Maye 's baseball fortunes improved, he spent less time on his vocalizing and so in 1957 the group had one record during the year for the Flip label with the songs "Hey Pretty Girl" and "Because You're Mine Alone" on # 330.

In 1959 in both baseball on now on record he was known as Lee Maye. The group recorded for the Cash label in Los Angeles although the group was still uncredited on the label. "Will You Be Mine" and another version of "Honey Honey" as by Lee Maye "of the Milwaukee Braves" on Cash # 1063 (these songs were also released on Imperial # 5790). Later in the year "All I Want Is Someone To Love" and "Pounding" is released on # 1065. In 1959 Lee Maye realized his dream by making the roster of the Milwaukee Braves and remained a major league baseball player for thirteen years. He also played for the Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators, and Chicago White Sox. (Arthur) Lee Maye recorded a number of solo recordings into the mid seventies for many labels including Jamie, Tower, Pacemaker, ABC Paramount, Buddah, and Pic One. The Crowns on their own also recorded a few tunes in the early sixties for Cash, Dynamic, Amazon, and Ball, backing lead singer Henry Strogin. The last recording for Maye was in 1985 for the Antrell label of "Moonlight" and "I'm Happy And In Love" on # 102.

After his retirement from baseball in the early nineteen seventies he worked for Amtrack for years until his health began to fail. He passed away in July of 2002, leaving a catalog of wonderful music to be enjoyed again as well as memories of a thirteen year career in major league baseball. His music is available on a thirty track "Best Of" CD on Dig # 2000, and also on a number of compilation CDs on Ace (UK) label.

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