Remembering The El Venos©2006JCMarion


In the mid nineteen fifties, Pittsburgh's inner city vocal group scene was nowhere near as prolific as New York or Philadelphia's, or even for that matter as widely developed as Chicago. There were however groups of teenagers around the city trying their hand at putting together some tight harmonies and bluesy melodies. One of these was a group that became known as The El Venos. In early 1956 the members of the group were Anna Mae Jackson on lead, Leon Taylor and Daniel Jackson tenors, Joe Daniels on baritone, and the bass voice was Bernard Palmer. A sometimes second lead voice for the group was Leon Daniels the brother of both Joe and Anna Mae.

The group made a number of local appearances with Porky Chedwick, Jay Michael, and Bill Powell. It was Bill Powell who got the group connected with RCA Victor Records in New York and soon a recording session was arranged for the group. Soon one of RCA's subsidiary labels, Groove Records, released two tunes by the group - "Geraldine" with Leon Daniels on lead, and "Now We're Together" with Leon and Anna Mae on leads on #0171. The record was a local hit in the Pittsburgh area, but national recognition did not come to the group. Leon’s mother became the manager of the group by then and soon RCA recorded the group for another single, this time released on their Vik label. The songs were "You Must Be True" and “My Heart Beats Faster” on # 0305. Neither side made any inroads on the sales charts or on radio playlists at that time.


The group also recorded some tunes for the Calico label and for Amp 3 / Mercury, but none of those efforts were released by the respective record companies. After that The El Venos went their seperate ways. Anna Mae Jackson was now known as Anne Keith and discovered her lead vocals with The El Venos dubbed onto tracks recorded by another local group called The Altairs on a song called "Lover's Prayer" which was released on the Memo label. The flip side of the record was “Just A Lonely Girl” listed as by “The El Venos featuring Anne Keith”. That is the short and not so sweet history of Pittsburgh’s El Venos. Except – RCA for some unknown reason reissued Vik # 0305 in 1964 on # 47-8303.

The El Venos are another part of the vocal group history of the city of Pittsburgh. They were part of Steeltown's sound of the city.

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