There Is Time : The Heartbreakers©2005JCMarion


The Heartbreakers were another one of the Rhythm & Blues vocal groups that pioneered the sound of the era but sadly today are remembered by only a handful of the faithful followers of the music. The group originated in the Washington D.C. area in the time right after the end of the second world war. The original members of the group were the Ross brothers James and William, Lawrence Tate and Fred Holmes. They soon made contact with a budding singer and song writer named Bobby Evans. He wrote a song that he felt would be perfect for the group called "Heartbreaker". The fledgling group made the rounds of local talent shows and amateur nights in the District and soon had an appearance in 1949 lined up with a local radio program that featured local talent called "Art Brown's Amateur Hour". The show which was patterned after the national hit radio show "Amateur Hour" originally hosted by Major Bowes and taken over by Ted Mack. Because of their well received performance on the show, a local Washington area record producer and talent scout named Lillian Clairborne invited the group to appear for an audition.

As the group auditioned, they impressed Clairborne and she told them that she would work to sign the group to a recording contract. Fate and the Korean conflict intervened at this time as William Ross and Fred Holmes were drafted for military service. The new members that replaced ross and Holmes were Lawrence Green and Junior Davis, who had been a member of the singing group The Four Dots ("My Dear" / "You Won't Let Me Go") on the Dot label. Clairborne soon let the group know that she had secured a recording deal with RCA Victor Records. This was a big surprise to the Heartbreakers because they assumed that they would be recording for a small local independent label. The group was managed by Joe Drew and they got ready for the recording session for the major label that they only dreamed about for years.

All of the songs recorded by the group were written by Bobby Evans. Once the group began to record they made appearances at local clubs and on stage on theaters along the TOBA circuit such as the Howard in D.C., the Royal in Baltimore, and the Uptown in Philadelphia. Their first record was released on RCA Victor # 4327 with the tunes "Heartbreaker" and "Wanda". About four months later RCA released "You're So Necessary To Me" and "I'm Only Fooling My Heart" on # 4508. After the second release by RCA Victor duplicated the lack of success, it was apparent to the group that RCA Victor, though a nationally recognized giant in the industry did not have the key of marketing R & B music. The group retained their popularity in the Washington area, but could not break out nationally. One of the problems that the group faced was that RCA tried to market them as a pop group in the style of the Mills Brothers which was not their field. Another block that faced the group was the constant reference of The Heartbreakers to The Clovers a phenomenally successful Washington D.C. group. In early 1952 RCA released "Rockin Daddy-O" and "Why Don't I?" on # 4662. Later in 1952 "There Is Time" and "It's O.K. With Me" was released on # 4849 which would be the last RCA release by The Heartbreakers. In early 1953 the group broke up with Lawrence Tate and William Ross joining a group called The Griffins who recorded for Mercury, and Bobby Evans and Fred Holmes formed a vocal group called The Topps who recorded for Red Robin Records in New York.

The Heartbreakers descended into obscurity until the early nineteen seventies when vocal group aficionado Les Moss started Roadhouse Records, a small collector oriented label that released six 45's by the group including a wonderful live cut of their signature tune "Heartbreaker" from an appearance at the Howard Theater in D.C. in 1952. Roadhouse also issued an LP album of the Heartbreakers containing some of the RCA unreleased sides by the group.

The story of the Heartbreakers is one heard often from the history of many of the early vocal groups. That they persevered in the face of many of the difficulties facing those groups in the early fifties is a testament to the lasting popularity of the music.

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