Song In My Heart : The Dubs©2004JCMarion


As the growth of early rock 'n roll took the country by storm in the mid nineteen fifties, vocal groups were the vehicle of choice for most urban teenagers of the time. New groups were sprouting up everywhere as the proliferation of low rent independent record labels, many being store front operations, searched for the next big hitmakers (and moneymakers - for the producers anyway). One such group from Harlem was originally known as The Five Stars. They soon changed their name to The 5 Wings. The members were lead singer Jackie Rue, tenors Billy Carlyle and Frank Edwards, baritone Melvin Flood, and bass Thomas Grate. Through their manager Hiram Johnson (brother of R & B legendary band leader Buddy) they were soon signed to R & B giant King Records of Cincinnati. They recorded a double sided tribute to Johnny Ace - "Johnny's Still Singing" and "Johnny Has Gone" (also recorded by Varetta Dillard) on King #4778 in February of 1955. In April of that year, a second release for King hit the streets pairing the tunes "Teardrops Are Falling" and "Rock-a-Locka" on #4780. After these two records lack of success, Rue (later of jackie & The Starlites), Edwards and Flood left the group. Butch Hamilton joined up with remaining members Carlyle and Grate and recorded a third side for King behind lead singer Billy Nelson on "Walk Along" and "Shack Pack And Stack Your Blues Away" for Savoy Records #1183 which was released right before Christmas . A cousin of Carlyle named Richard Blandon came home from military service and joined The Wings at that time.

Meanwhile in early 1956 another Harlem vocal group called The Scaletones had their first (and only) record released with the songs ""Everlasting Love" and "Dreamin And Dreamin" on Jay-Dee #810. The members of the group were Cleveland Still on lead, James Montgomery on tenor, Jake Miller baritone, and Thomas Gardner on bass.The two Harlem based vocal groups were going nowhere until a timely meeting between Blandon and Still. The seeds of an idea to join forces were discussed and soon out of those two unsuccessful vocalizers came a new group to be called The marvels. The members were Blandon on lead, Still and Carlyle tenors, Miller baritone, and Gardner on bass. The Marvels had one record released by ABC Paramount with the tunes "I Won't Have You Breaking My Heart" and "Jump Rock And Roll" on #9771. Manager Hiram Johnson still had hopes for success by the quintet even though they had failed again to find popular acceptance for their efforts. Johnson formed his own label and the group readied to record a song written by group member Richard Blandon. The song was "Don't Ask Me To Be Lonely" and the group now changed their name to The Dubs and committed the song to wax. Coupled with "Darling" it was released on Johnson #102 in march of 1957. It was an immediate hit. Hiram Johnson knew he needed national distribution for the record and George Goldner was the answer. Goldner had recently left the Roulette, Rama, Gee, and Tico labels, and started his new enterprise Gone Records with two Alan Freed associates Warren Troob and Jack Hooke. Both sides were now on Gone #5002 and were awarded with the "sleeper of the week" designation by Cash Box. The group has found success at last as their record is a top seller and is rewarded with extensive airplay throughout the summer and even gets into the national pop charts. With this recognition come the television appearances with Dick Clark and hitting the road for one nighters throughout the Northeast.

As The Dubs ready a followup record, they appear locally with d.j. Hal Jackson at an all star show at the Hunt's Point Palace in the Bronx. It is a vocal group extravaganza with The Bop Chords, Shells, Chantels, Rob Roys, Deltaires, and Kodoks. In October "Could This Be Magic" and a rocking "Such Lovin'" are released on Gone #5011. On the first week in November The Dubs appear at the Apollo Theater in Harlem with Little Willie John, Linda Hopkins, Donnie Elbert, The Channels, Heartbeats, and Arnett Cobb's band. The show is mc'd by Evelyn Robinson from WOV radio. "Magic" is selling big in all areas of the country and will be bigger than their initial outing and they have become one of the hottest vocal groups in the country. The Christmas Week Show held by Alan Freed at the New York Paramount breaks every attendance record there. The Dubs are joined by Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly & The Crickets, Paul Anka, Little Joe, Thurston Harris, Jo Ann Campbell, Terry Noland, Danny & The Juniors, Lee Andrews & The Hearts, The Rays, Teenagers (without Frankie Lymon), Twin Tones, and Sam "The Man" Taylor & his Orchestra. The Dubs are also scheduled for a big stage show with Paul Sherman of WINS in New York (long Alan Freed's stand in) soon after New Year's day at St. Nicholas Arena.

In March of 1958 "Beside My Love" and "Gonna Make A Change" are released on Gone #5020. At this time The Dubs are in Houston, Texas on stage with d.j. Clifton "King Bee" Smith and The Drifters, Silhouettes, B.B. King, Sam Cooke, and Ernie Freeman. The ballad side gets good radio airplay but the record is a disappointment after the first two huge sellers. In June "Be Sure My Love" and "Song In My Heart" are out on Gone #5034. "Be Sure" with its dual lead is a great ballad that starts out well for the group, but again it does not live up to its promise. In late 1958 "Chapel Of Dreams" and "Is There A Love For Me?" are released by Gone Records on #5046. The record goes nowhere and the group disbands. Richard Blandon joins up in a reformed version of The Vocaleers for a time. Then Gone re-issues the last release "Chapel Of Dreams" on #5069 during the summer and it winds up being a decent seller for the group. The Dubs come back together and by now the group consists of Richard Blandon, Cleveland Still, Thomas Grate, and Cordell Brown. The group is planning a cross country tour with the Buddy Johnson band. However the relationship between the group and Gone Records is not the greatest and Hiram Johnson announces in October that the group has signed a three year recording contract with ABC Paramount Records.

During the late 50s through the early 60s as the vocal group era came to an end, The Dubs recorded five sides for ABC Paramount, none of which were successful - "Early In The Morning" / "No One" on #10056, "Don't Laugh At Me" / "You'll Never Belong To Me" on #10100, "For The First Time" / "Ain't That So" on #10150, "If I Only Had Magic" / "Joogie Boogie" on #10198, and "Lullabye" / "Down Down Down I Go" on #10269. Odd recordings on End, Gone, Lana, Wilshire, and Josie close out the sixties. Since then Cleveland Still has toured with different versions of The Dubs over the years in various oldies package shows and crowds still appreciate the five hit tunes from the Gone era in the late 1950s. Richard Blandon, the group's original lead singer passed away in 1991 at the age of 57. But The Dubs, one of New York's finest vocal groups live on by records, radio, and the surviving version of the group on the oldies circuit. For this we thank all who make that possible.

The "must have" CD by the group is "Best of The Dubs" for Collectables which contains all the necessary songs by this memorable set of voices.

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