This week's feature artist:
One of the greatest to ever do it and still is doing it singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson's
career spans over 4 decades of hits. He has received numerous awards including the Grammy Living Legend Award,
NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, Honorary Doctorate (Howard University), Kennedy Center Honors and the
National Medal of Arts Award from the President of the United States. He has also been inducted into the
Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters' Hall of Fame..
The Commodores are an American funk/soul band, which was at its peak in the late 1970s through the mid 1980s.
The members of the group met as mostly freshmen at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in 1968, and signed with
Motown in November 1972, having first caught the public eye opening for The Jackson 5 while on tour. The group's most successful period
was in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Lionel Richie was co-lead singer. The band's biggest hit singles are ballads such as
"Easy", "Three Times a Lady", and "Nightshift"; and funky dance hits which include "Brick House",
"Fancy Dancer", "Lady (You Bring Me Up)", and "Too Hot ta Trot". However it was in 1986 that the Commodores won their first Grammy for the song "Nightshift".
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The Chi-Lites were formed in Chicago in 1959. Originally called the Hi-Lites, they consisted of Marshall Thompson (birthday 24th Aug),
Creadel "Red" Jones, Eugene Record, Robert Lester (birthday 16th August) and Clarence Johnson.
As the Hi-Lites they released a number of singles on local labels then in 1964 they changed their name to Marshall &
the Chi-Lites; the 'C' being added to reflect the name of their hometown, Chicago. By the end of 1964 Clarence Johnson
had left the group and they truncated their name to simply the Chi-Lites. During the ensuing four years Eugene Record
slowly emerged as the group's lead singer, songwriter and producer.
In 1969, after signing with Brunswick the previous year, "Give It Away" became their first USA national hit single attaining
number ten in the R&B charts. The follow-up release "Let Me Be The Man My Daddy Was" was moderately successful
but another major hit was elusive until "Are You My Woman ?" climbed into the R&B top ten in early 1971.
A succession of top ten hits followed commencing with their next release "(For God's Sake)Give More Power To The People"
which was the first release to crossover into the pop charts. The ballads "Have You Seen Her" and "Oh Girl" followed, both
reaching number one in the R&B charts with "Oh Girl" also achieving the number one slot in the pop charts in the spring of 1972.
This week's featured artist hail from our homestate of Illinois!
The Dells performed for over five decades, have sold millions of records, and are considered the most enduring
vocal group in the history of Rhythm and Blues. Affectionately known as The Mighty Dells by fans and leaders
in the music industry, its members – including Marvin Junior (lead baritone), John Carter (lead tenor), Charles Barksdale (bass), Michael McGill (baritone) and Verne Allison (second tenor) – set the standard for top-to-bottom male harmony.
Initially known as the El-Rays, The Dells started in 1952 in Harvey, Illinois, as five friends from high school.
Eventually, the El-Rays cut their very first single, “Darling I Know,” for Chess Records. It went nowhere.
Two years later, with a new record contract with Vee Jay Records as The Dells, they released their 3rd recording
“Oh What A Night.” It became an immediate R&B hit, finishing third behind Elvis' Don't Be Cruel at number two and Fats Domino'sBlueberry Hill on top.
By 1960, The Dells were soon opening and touring for Dinah Washington. Here they fashioned their hypnotic
melodious sound and caught the attention of Ray Charles. The Dells soon began touring with Charles, singing
more ballads and standards and incorporating jazz into their singing styles.
By 1967, The Dells began charting a string of R&B & Pop Billboard hits, including 3 number one R&B hits:
“Oh What A Night,” certified as a million seller in 1956 & 1969; “Stay in My Corner,” the very first million selling
single that was 6 minutes and 10 seconds long; and “Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation,” a certified million seller
plus 44 Billboard R&B and POP Charted Recordings. These hits transformed The Dells from an opening act from a
Chicago suburb to major concert headliners around the world.
In 1991, Robert Townsend released The Five Heartbeats, an acclaimed movie based on the lives and careers of The Dells.
This film produced another R&B Billboard chart hit, “A Heart Is a House for Love,” and introduced The Dells to a younger
generation of R&B music lovers. The Dells were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
The music still endures, the vocal harmony endears, and the rich legacy of The Dells has earned the group a place in musical history.