A Short History : The Cardells©2005JCMarion


Many Rhythm & Blues vocal groups came and went during the nineteen fifties. Especially in the year of 1956, it seemed that there was a new group that appeared every other day. That particular year was the high water mark for this form of music especially after the great success of Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers when it was apparent that the music of America was the music of teenaged America. One of the many vocal groups that flashed across the scene during that year was a West Coast quartet called The Cardells. Most afficianados of the music will be hard pressed to remember anything about them especially if you did not live on the West Coast during the mid nineteen fifties.

For once the starting point of the organization of the group did not come during school but instead took place when four young men in the military with the U.S. Air Force stationed in Georgia got together. They found out that they were all from the same general area in Los Angeles, and so one thing led to another, and soon they were vocalizing. The members were William gardner, lead singer, Robert carey, Sonny Mayberry, and Charles Bearden. After returning from the service, the four singers got together to give their musicianship a shot at securing a chance of recording. The named themselves The Cardells and realized the one thing they really needed to have was a couple of original songs to sing. They settled on a ballad called "Helen" written by Gardner acting on a suggestion by one of his friends. At this time Clarence Middleton, a local recording company owner, heard about this new vocal group. His label called Middle-Tone, began with "No No Baby" by Carmen Davis (#2001) and "Let Me Hear It Again" by The Pebbles (# 2002) in 1955. In 1956 with a new numbering system the label released "Do You Love Me" / "I Promise" by Sonny Woods & The Four Winds on # 008, the Carmen Davis side re-released on # 009,. and "Foxey" by Riff Ruffin on # 010.

Middleton saw the style of music that was popular and was looking for a vocal group in the current style and liked what he heard from The Cardells. After a few short rehearsals the group went into the recording studio and in October of 1956 "Helen" and "Lovely Girl" by The Cardells was released on Middle-Tone # 011. It got some local airplay on Los Angeles radio but nothing much happened with the record outside of their immediate geographical area. Soon after the record was released the group broke up and went their different ways and the short history of The Cardells was over. William Gardner remained on the music scene and was in a number of vocal groups in the L.A. area including The Tabs who recorded for local label Noble Records in 1959 and 1960. They are not the same group that recorded for Nasco and Dot Records in 1959.

The Cardells were one example of so many of the young vocal groups that were around in the nineteen fifties. Some like in this story remained together for only one recording but live on in the memory of those that lived the life and were a part of the scene that will never disappear from history.

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