So Fine : The Fiestas©2006JCMarion


The Fiestas were a group that came along late in the era of the R & B vocal groups, but provided a sound so special and long lasting that they are remembered beyond their record hit making status. They came from Newark, New Jersey all from the same neighborhood, and consisted of members Tom Bullock, Eddie Morris, Preston Lane, and Sam Ingalls. Early on, the group practiced their songs and hoped to convince a record label that they had the stuff to produce a hit record. They recorded a demo side for Jim Gribble (who became their manager) who took the recording to various labels in New York. After a time of trial and error, they were heard by Hy Weiss the owner of Old Town Records one of the top performing New York City independent labels. He liked what he heard obviously, and soon had the group in the recording studio. They recorded a song written by Jesse Belvin years before called "So Fine" and also backed it with a ballad called "Last Night I Dreamed (Of You)" and Old Town released it on # 1062. The ballad originally was targeted as the 'A' side but soon radio airplay in the New York area flipped to the medium tempo rocker "So Fine" .

Listeners were intrigued by the four part harmony throughoput the song rather than the standard lead and backup format that was the norm for the vocal group style. By February the group had a solid hit that was breaking out nationally. The four part lead throughout the song was certainly catching the ear of radio listeners and the group was now in demand as new hit makers always are. By March the record was doing big business in the Midwest especially in Detroit and Chicago, and was breaking big on the pop music charts. In April The Fiestas began to make personal appearances throughout the Northeast. In April Bill "Hoss" Allen on WLAC in Nashville picks the record as the top pick of the week. In May Johnny Otis and his representatives filed a lawsuit over the record claiming that he was the true composer of the tune. Named in the suit were Old Town Records, Jim Gribble, and The Fiestas themselves. In June Eldorado Music wins the lawsuit for the interests of Johnny Otis and the matter is settled with Old Town paying a designated sum of money and legal costs.

In July The Fiestas get around to recording a followup record for Old Town. After a fabulous run of "So Fine", the group has "Our Anniversary" and "I'm Your Slave" on # 1069. In October Henry Glover after a time at King Records in Cincinnati moves to Old Town and produces a new side by The Fiestas called "That Was Me" and "Good News" on Old Town # 1074. In late October the group heads South for a series of one nighters. In late November The Fiestas play the Regal Theater in Chicago for an all star R & B show headlining Ray Charles, Nappy Brown and the Sarah McLawler-Richard Otto Combo. Now as the new decade was beginning the group moved to a more modernistic style combining elements of the blues and soul. They continued to turn out records for another five years for Old Town before calling it quits as an act. They got in at the tail end of the vocal group era and had one memorable hit record that has endured through all the passing years. The Fiestas had made their mark on the history of the music.

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