Too Little Too Soon : The Bachelors©2005JCMarion


In the mid forties, Washington, D.C. like many other inner city locales was attuned to the emerging sound of Rhythm & Blues. This hybrid music of Black America was not known for becoming the world's soundtrack yet, but that time was not too far off in the distance. One of the styles of his music was the harmonies warbled by the vocal groups that had sprung up in the wake of the unprecedented success of the Inkspots. One of these many quartets and quintets that were looking to make their mark in their neighborhood and beyond. One of these very vocal groups was called The Jets. They had met and connected in high school and were now putting together a musical package to present to their as yet unknowing public. The Jets consisted of lead singer Buck Mason, tenor voices Walt Taylor and Toy Walton, baritone Herb Fisher, and bass voice John Bowie. Soon they had enough polish and singing talent to become a mainstay in the area's clubs and nightspots. They finally got a break in the desire to expand their sphere of influence, so to speak, by securing a recording contract in 1952. They were set to record for Eddie Heller's New York based Rainbow Records. That independent label had been trying to break out in the rapidly growing R & B market in the Northeast.

In late December, right at the end of the year, Rainbow releases a tune called "The Lovers" by The Jets. The flip side was a throwaway jump tune called "Drag It Home Baby", and the pair of tunes was out on Rainbow #201. Rainbow touted the group in its ads headlining "Introducing The Jets", and "An R & B Must". One of the factors that complicated the attempt of the group to find an audience was that soon after their record came out, a vocal group on the West Coast also called The Jets released a record on the 7-11 label. The California group would eventually hit paydirt as The Hollywood Flames some years later. The Washington D.C. group however saw their first recorded effort pull a disappearing act despite the efforts at promotion and airplay. To add a bit of irony to the prodeedings, the next effort by the group in the recording studio was for Aladdin Records who had the West Coast Jets (Flames) under contract. Thus the D.C. Jets were now known as The Bachelors. Just about a year after the Rainbow release came the Aladdin release - "Can't Help Loving You" and "Pretty Baby" on # 3210. Again the group performs a likable ballad, but once again not many people were listening. The record again was the subject of a vanishing act. After more than five years together, the group was on the verge of going their seperate ways. The group now had another name recognition problem. There was another group called The Bachelors based in New York. They were led by top vocalist Dean Barlowe and they recorded for International and Earl Records. However the D.C. group pressed on.

The next shot at recording in the studio came to the group in 1955. This time it was with Royal Roost Records, a one time bebop specific label that had lately dabbling on the R & B field with The Four Pals and soon Eddie Cooley & The Dimples. At the behest of a popular New York vocal group The Solitaires, The Bachelors (sometimes spelled Batchelors), gave it a shot with the label. They recorded two tunes written by Otis Blackwell who would achieve great fame for being a prolific writer of pop tunes, many which were hits for Elvis Presley. Royal Roost released "You've Lied" and "I Found A Love" on # 620 but again fame and fortune eluded the group. After this latest failure to latch on with the public, Walt Taylor and Herb Fisher left the group and the bachelors now a quartet with the addition of James Taylor had one more shot in the recording studio. This time with an assist from their Washington D.C. brethren The Clovers, they secured a slot for Poplar Records in 1957. The songs recorded were "After" and "You Know You Know" on # 101. Once again the losing streak continued and now the group was at the end of their road. Four records on four different labels spread out over five years was not an impressive history, and so that was the end for The Bachelors.

Toy Walton rejoined Herb Fisher and formed a new group called The Links who recorded for the Teenage label with "Baby" and "She's The One" on # 1009. Soon John Bowie hooked up with former Moonglows standout Harvey Fuqua and a D.C. group called The Marquees which featured future star Marvin Gaye and the Moonglows were reborn. The post Links Walton became a member of The Clovers in the early nineteen sixties, and John Bowie also was a member of that group in later years.

That is the all too short and mostly unsuccessful history of the Bachelors who began their life as The Jets. It is a familiar story of the early days of the rock 'n roll age and the era of the R & B vocal groups. We remember all of those young voices who contributed to the soundtrack of so many of our lives.

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