No No No : The Chanters©2006JCMarion


Bud (sometimes spelled as Budd) Johnson was a jazz and R & B tenor sax player who did a lot of session work in New York throughout the forties and fifties. His son Bud Jr. along with a few of his neighborhood friends soon began singing notes and trading riffs which the father thought might show some promise. So Bud Johnson along with Bob Thompson, Fred Page, Elliot Green, and lead singer Larry Pendergrass soon solidified the group. Their influence was the top sound of the day - the young high tenor lead made famous by Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers.

Bud and his group who were managed by his mother soon were put in contact with one of the leading independent record companies of the day, the King-Federal-DeLuxe combine located in Cincinnati, Ohio and headed by Syd Nathan. Nathan who was looking for just that kind of sound in a vocal group, quickly signed them to his DeLuxe label and set up their initial recording session. The first release for the group was "My My Darling" and "I Need Your Tenderness" on # 6162 in April of 1958. The record did not do much in sales or airplay and the group was soon ready for another try. In June "Row Your Boat" and "Stars In The Skies" was released on DeLuxe #6166. This time the results were a bit better for the group but still certainly not a big national, or even a regional hit. "Row" was an up tempo tune very much in the mold of the Lymon brothers groups. September saw the third DeLuxe release on the tunes "Angel Darling" and "Five Little Kisses" on # 6172. Once again the group just did not seem to capture an audience for their music.

The Chanters had one last effort in the year. The songs were the pop standard "Over The Rainbow" and "No N o No" and this time Bud's father gave the session his experience in arranging and orchestrating the takes. Probably because of this the group was identified on the label as "Bud Johnson & The Chanters" leaving many listeners to assume that Johnson was the lead singer rather than Pendergrass. In 1959 Page left to military service and his place was taken by Fred Johnson another member of the Johnson family - this time a cousin. That year the group moved to the Craft label and recorded "All Alone" and "For Sentimental Reasons" and released on # 116. This time the lead singer was Fred Johnson and the group had changed their name to The Voices Five. A bit of confusion came about as the label released a side as by the Budd Johnson Orchestra (Bud Jr.'s father) on # 113. Unfortunately for the group now The Voices Five, the end result remained the same.

For The Chanters there was one last injustice that they experienced. For some reason in 1961, two years after they had disbanded a DeLuxe release of "No No No" with a new flip side that was on the shelf called "I Make This Pledge" on # 6191 actually dented the sales chart with "No" getting into the top fifty briefly. Some attributed this to a jump start by the doo wop flavor of underground radio in New York in the early nineteen sixties, specifically the legendary Irving "Slim" Rose. For whatever reason the short spot in the limelight by the group came too late for any of them to benefit, but it was an interesting postscript to the history of the group and its spot in the story of the era.

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