I Will Wait : The Four Buddies©2005JCMarion


The Four Buddies began their career as The Metronomes while at Frederick Douglas High School in Baltimore, Maryland in 1949. The members of the group were Larry Harrison lead; Gregory Carroll on tenor; Bert Palmer baritone; and Tommy Smith on bass. Naturally, they hoped to follow the path taken by fellow singers from their home town, The Orioles. After a series of local gigs at clubs in their home area, they were heard by Herman Lubinsky, one of the founders of the movement of independent R & B record labels. His company Savoy Records of Newark, New Jersey, was one of the prime movers in spreading the new sound of urban Rhythm & Blues. Just before they were set to record at their first session, the group changed its name from The Metronomes.

In January of 1951, Savoy Records announced a new release by a vocal group known as The Four Buds. The songs are "Just To See You Smile Again" and "I Will Wait" on # 769. The songs were recorded back in November of 1950 with Van Walls on piano, Rene Hall on guitar, and Carl Wilson on bass. By February the group's name was now The Four Buddies as Savoy was touting their new release as a top R & B record. "I Will Wait" shows good sales and airplay in New York and Philadelphia by mid March. By April it is the second best selling record for Savoy across the country. Right on top of that initial success Savoy releases "Sweet Slumber" and "Don't Leave Me Now" on # 779. "Slumber is a great blues ballad tune that was a hit for Lucky Millinder with Trevor Bacon on vocal in the mid forties. The Four Buddies version was recorded at a session on January 13, 1950 with Eannes Prince on piano, Rene Hall on guitar, Ted Sindaris on bass, and Herb Cowans on drums. There were two unreleased songs also recorded at that session - "Moonlight In Your Eyes" and "It Could Have Been Me". By late May the record is a good seller in the Southeast states. At a late May session for Savoy, three unreleased tunes are recorded by The Four Buddies - "Close To You", "I'm Yours", and "I Love You Yes I Do". The backup combo on the session was Eannes Prince-piano, Everett Barksdale-guitar, Abie Baker-bass, and Jimmy Crawford-drums. Pressing ahead Savoy Records releases "My Summer's Gone" (from the January 13 session) and "Why At A Time Like This" on # 789 in late June. All three recordings by The Four Buddies continue to sell as the group has rapidly come to the forefront among the top sellers such as The Orioles and Ravens. A former member of the group, Vernon Palmer, now has his new group called The Falcons, follow The Four Buddies to Savoy Records.

In September, Savoy has a new record by the group on # 817. They were recorded at Savoy in late August with Howard Hodges on piano, Wally Richardson on guitar, Prince Babbs on bass, and Bobby Donaldson on drums. The songs are "Heart And Soul" and "Sin (It's No Sin)" which is a pop hit for both The Four Aces and Eddy Howard. Savoy soon markets The Four Buddies record of "Sin" as the "original race" version, an outmoded term for R & B. "Simply Say Goodbye" and "Window's Eyes" are paired on # 823 late in the year, both from the August session. In May of 1952 Savoy continues with the release of "Story Blues" and "You're Part Of Me" on # 845 from a recording date the previous month. "Story Blues" breaks out in Atlanta, Richmond, and Savoy's home city of Newark, as a good seller. In October "Sweet Tooth For My baby" and "What's The matter With Me?" on # 866, also from the April date. One unreleased song came out of that session - "Nothing Shaking, Baby". The group then had difficulties with illness striking two of the members and they did not return to the recording studio until the spring of March 3 of 1953 with the Hal Singer combo that featured Hal on tenor sax, Kenny Owens on piano, Jimmy Cannady on guitar, Jimmy Lewis on bass, and Bobby Donaldson on drums. "Ooh Ow" and "My Mother's Eyes" on Savoy # 888 was the result, although two tunes from the date were unreleased - "You Left Me Alone" and "I Got Everything But You". Three days later they recorded a couple of songs as backup for vocalist Dolly Cooper with the Hal Singer band - "I'd Climb The Highest Mountain" and "I Wanna Know" on # 891. That proved to be the last record for The Four Buddies as they called it quits in late 1953.

After The Four Buddies were no more, Gregory Carroll was a member of The Orioles for a time, and then went into the production side of the recording industry, a path also followed by Leon Harrison who at first formed a new group that recorded one side for Glory as The Buddies, and a couple of sides for Decca as The Barons.. Palmer and Smith however, left the music scene completely.

The Four Buddies were one of the best of the transition groups, with each one of their ballad sides an instant classic. They suffer from their short recording history when compared to The Ravens, Orioles, Clovers, Larks, Five Keys, and Dominos for instance. However their place will always be assured as long as there are lovers of this music and The Four Buddies recordings are there to be treasured. There remains the CD called "The Complete Savoy Four Buddies" on Savoy Jazz. It is their musical testament for all time.

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