I Promise You : The Checkers©2004JCMarion


In early 1952 Billy Brown a member of The Dominos cited differences with Billy Ward the group's manager and left the group. He formed a new vocal group which he called The Checkers.Other members of the group at times were Charlie White, Eddie Harris, John Carnegie, and Perry Heyward (this information comes from Marv Goldberg). In September of 1952 King Records of Cincinnati announces the release of #4558 which features The Checkers on the tunes "Flame In My Heart" and "Oh Oh Baby". The next record by the group features the songs "My Prayer Tonight" and "Love Wasn't There" on #4596. In November King releases "Night's Curtain" and "Let Me Come Back" on #4581. In the spring of 1953 King releases a new side by The Checkers. The songs are "Ghost Of My Baby" and "I Wanna Know" on #4626. Late in the year of 1953 the Checkers record "White Cliffs Of Dover" and "Without A Song" released by King on #4675.

In January of 1954 King is still at it with a new record by The Checkers. The songs are "You Never Had It So Good" and "I Promise You" on #4673. In March last year's recording of "White Cliffs Of Dover" begins to sell on the West coast. In May King Records pushes the group's "Don't Stop Dan" and "House With No Windows" on #4710. In late May Billboard picks the record as its "buy of the week" and states that both sides are selling well despite limited air play on radio. The 'A' side seems to be "Don't Stop Dan" and it is selling well especially in the South. It turns out to be the group's biggest hit and top seller. In July the Cincinnati, home base of King Records, reports big sales of the flip side of the record - "House With No Windows" (the tune would be covered by The Midnighters for King in 1958). On the strength of record sales The Checkers hit the road for a tour of one nighters throughout the South during the last three months of the year. Cootie Williams & his Orchestra, Dinah Washington, and Danny Overbea are also part of the package show. The second part of the tour will head out to the Midwest with James Moody and his band replacing the Williams unit. Meanwhile King is out with another side by the group - "Over The Rainbow" and "You've Been Fooling Around" on #4719. In November King follows up The Checkers big seller with a new release featuring the tunes "I Wasn't Thinking I Was Drinking" and "Mama's Daughter" on #4751.

In January of 1955 "Try Holding My hand" and "Can't Find My Sadie" are released by King Records on #4764.The Checkers suddenly drop off the radar screen so to speak and they are not heard from on record for three years. Just as suddenly The Checkers reappear in late 1958 with "Heaven Only Knows" and "Nine More Miles" on King #5166. The next year there are two records by the group - "So Fine" and "Sentimental Heart" is released on Federal #12355 which is followed by "Teardrops Are Falling" on one side of King #5199. There has been much speculation over the years that these three late 50s releases are not by the original version of The Checkers at all. The final record release by the group is on Federal #12375 in 1960 which features re-issues of "White Cliffs Of Dover" and "Let Me Come Back".

The Checkers - another fondly remembered group by those who are anchored in the sound of the R & B vocal groups all those years ago. For all others, try and find the work of this group if for no other reason than they were part of that magical scene "back in the day".

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