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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Clyde McPhatter-his years with Billy Ward and the Dominoes.....

Clyde McPhatter

Clyde McPhatter (November 15, 1932 – June 13, 1972) was an American R&B singer, perhaps the most widely imitated R&B singer of the 1950s and 1960s, making him a key figure in the shaping of doo-wop and R&B. McPhatter was lead tenor for The Mount Lebanon Singers, a gospel group he formed as a teenager; and later, lead tenor for Billy Ward and His Dominoes. After his tenure with the Dominoes, McPhatter formed his own group called The Drifters before going solo, leaving a legacy of over 22 years of recording history.

Clyde Lensley McPhatter was born in the tobacco town community of Hayti, Durham, North Carolina, on November 15, 1932, and raised in a religious Baptist family; the son of the Rev. George McPhatter and wife Beulah (though some accounts refer to her as Eva). Starting at age five, he sang in his father's church gospel choir along with his three brothers and three sisters. When he was ten, Clyde was the soprano-voiced soloist for the choir. In 1945, the Rev. McPhatter moved his family to Teaneck, New Jersey where Clyde attended Chelsior High School. He worked part-time as a grocery store clerk, and eventually was promoted to shift manager upon graduating high school. The family then relocated to New York City, and McPhatter formed the gospel group The Mount Lebanon Singers.

In 1950, after winning "Amateur Night" at Harlem's Apollo Theater, McPhatter returned to his job as store manager but later was recruited by Billy Ward & the Dominoes, and was present for the recording of "Sixty Minute Man" for Federal Records, a song sometimes regarded as the "first record of rock 'n roll," produced by Ralph Bass.

Clyde's fervent, high-pitched tenor was a large part of the Dominoes' success. He was regarded as the main singer to infuse his gospel-steeped singing style into mainstream R&B, though blues singer Roy Brown was actually the first to do so. Although Brown started the trend, McPhatter was more widely imitated, and he was a much bigger influence in the shaping of Doo-Wop/R&B. In his book The Drifters, Bill Millar names Ben E. King, Smokey Robinson of the Miracles, Sammy Turner, and Marv Johnson among the vocalists who patterned themselves after McPhatter. "Most important," he concludes, "McPhatter took hold of the Ink Spots' simple major chord harmonies, drenched them in call-and-response patterns and sang as if he were back in church. In doing so, he created a revolutionary musical style from which---thankfully---popular music will never recover." Strangely, McPhatter didn't think much of his own singing abilities. The numerous Clyde McPhatter imitators tell a different story, namely Nolan Strong of The Diablos, Bobby Day, and Dee Clark.

After recording several more songs, including "Have Mercy Baby", "Do Something for Me," and "The Bells," McPhatter quit The Dominoes in 1953. He was sometimes passed off as "Clyde Ward," Billy's little brother. Others assumed it was Billy Ward doing the lead singing. Because of such occurrences, and because he was frequently at odds with Ward, McPhatter quit the Dominoes, intent on making a name for himself. Before leaving The Dominoes, McPhatter was asked by Ward to coach the group's replacement lead tenor. Auditions were held at Detroit's Fox Theater, and a young Jackie Wilson would take over as The Dominoes' lead tenor. Wilson's singing style was much influenced by McPhatter. "I fell in love with the man's voice. I toured with the group and watched Clyde and listened..."---and apparently learned. Privately, McPhatter and Ward often argued, but publicly Clyde expressed his appreciation to Ward for giving him his start in show business.

Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records, eagerly sought McPhatter after noticing he was not present for an appearance The Dominoes made at Birdland, which was "an odd booking for the Dominoes", in Ertegun's words. After locating him, McPhatter was then signed to Atlantic on the condition that he form his own group. Clyde promptly assembled a group and called them The Drifters. They recorded a few tracks, including a song called "Lucille," written by McPhatter himself. This group of Drifters did not have the sound Atlantic executives were looking for, however, and Clyde was prompted to assemble another group of singers. The revised lineup recorded and released such hits as "Money Honey," "Such a Night," "Honey Love," "White Christmas" and "Whatcha Gonna Do," with the record label proudly displaying the group name "Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters." (The story of The Drifters is full of personnel changes. The first group of Drifters Clyde formed were mostly members of The Mount Lebanon Singers.)

In late 1954, McPhatter was drafted into the Army and assigned to Special Services in the continental United States, which allowed him to continue recording. After his tour of duty was up, he left The Drifters and launched a solo career.

McPhatter's first solo hit occurred just after being discharged - "Love Has Joined Us Together" (with Ruth Brown). He released several R&B recordings in the next few years, including "Seven Days" (later a bigger hit for Tom Jones), "Treasure of Love," "Just to Hold my Hand", and his biggest solo hit, "A Lover's Question," written by Brook Benton and Clyde Otis, which peaked at No. 6 in 1958. In 1962, the song "Lover Please," written by country artist Billy Swan was released. His 1956 recording "Treasure of Love" saw his first solo No. 1 on the R&B charts and one week in the UK Singles Chart. It reached No. 16 on the U.S. Pop charts.

After leaving Atlantic Records, McPhatter then signed on with MGM Records, and released several more songs, including "I Told Myself a Lie" and "Think Me a Kiss" (1960) and his first single for Mercury Records "Ta Ta." He recorded more singles, including "I Never Knew" and his final Top Ten hit "Lover Please," which made it to No. 7 in 1962. It was after "Lover Please" that McPhatter saw a downward turn in his career, as musical styles and tastes were constantly changing during the 1960s.

In 1968, McPhatter moved to England, where he was still highly revered, and he was backed by UK band "ICE".

McPhatter returned to America in 1970, making a few appearances in rock 'n roll revival tours, but remaining mostly a recluse. Hopes for a major comeback with a Decca album were crushed on June 13, 1972, when Clyde McPhatter died in his sleep at the age of 39 from complications of heart, liver, and kidney disease, brought on by alcohol abuse - abuse that had been fueled by a failed career and the resentment he harbored towards the fans he felt had deserted him. In a 1971 interview with journalist Marcia Vance, McPhatter told Vance "I have no fans." He was buried at George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus, New Jersey.

Ruth Brown acknowledged in her later years that McPhatter was the actual father of her son Ronald, born in 1954. Ron now tours occasionally with a show of Drifters songs.

Ok. I'm starting today with Clyde's songs with Billy Ward and the Dominoes....up to 1953.

 The following lists will be The Dominoes AFTER Clyde, Clyde's songs with the Drifters, Clyde solo, and possibly The Drifters after Clyde.  

Given the 'Six Degrees of Separation' of all of the artists, this kind of leads into and out of many other lists, including the Jackie Wilson lists that I posted back in October of 2010:

I think here is a good place to start.......sooooo, Clyde McPhatter with Billy Ward and the Dominoes:
Chicken Blues-1950
Do something for me-1950
No says my heart-1951
Harbor lights-1951
The deacon is movin' in-w/ Little Esther- With Earle Warren Orchestra 1951
Sixty minute man-1951
I can't escape from you-1951
Heart to heart-w/ Little Esther- With Earle Warren Orchestra 1951
Weeping willow blues-1951
I Am With You-1951
That's What You're Doin' To Me-1952
When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano-1952
Deep Sea Blues-1952
Have Mercy Baby-1952
Love Love Love-1952
No room-1952
I'd be satisfied-1952
I'm lonely-1952
Yours forever-1952
The bells-1952
Pedal pushin' papa 1-1952
Pedal pushin' papa 2-1952
Don't leave me this way-1953
These foolish things-1953

Here is a rough timeline for Clyde up to 1953 from:

Clyde McPhatter

The Mount Lebanon Singers (members Clyde McPhatter, Charlie White, William Anderson, Wilmer Baldwin, David Baldwin and James Johnson) 1945

The Ques (members Billy Ward (pianist), Clyde McPhatter (lead tenor), Charlie White (tenor), William Joseph Lamonte (baritone) and Bill Brown (bass)) 1950 line-up.

The Dominoes (members Billy Ward, Clyde McPhatter, Charlie White (later member of The Checkers on King), William Joseph Lamonte and Bill Brown (later member of The Checkers on King))

Federal 12001 - Chicken Blues* / Do Something For Me** - 1950 *Lead Bill Brown. **Lead Clyde McPhatter.
Federal 12010 - No! Says My Heart* / Harbor Lights* - 1951 *Lead Clyde McPhatter.

Little Esther With Earle Warren Orchestra  

Federal 12016 - The Deacon Moves In* / Other Lips, Other Arms** - 1951 *lead Esther Mae Jones and Charlie White (Backed By The Remaining Dominoes Billy Ward, Clyde McPhatter, Charlie White, William Joseph Lamonte and Bill Brown)  **Little Esther solo.

The Dominoes (members Billy Ward, Clyde McPhatter, Charlie White, William Joseph Lamonte and Bill Brown)

Federal 12022 - Sixty Minute Man* / I Can't Escape From You** - 1951 *lead Bill Brown. **lead Clyde McPhatter.

Little Esther and The Dominoes (members Esther Mae Jones, Billy Ward, Clyde McPhatter, Charlie White, William Joseph Lamonte and Bill Brown (with The Earle Warren Orchestra))

Federal 12036 - Heart To Heart* / Looking For A Man To Satisfy My Soul** - 1951 *lead Little Esther and Clyde McPhatter. **Little Esther solo.

The Dominoes (members Billy Ward, Clyde McPhatter, Charlie White, William Joseph Lamonte and Bill Brown)

Federal 12039 - Weeping Willow Blues* / I Am With You** - 1951 *Lead Clyde Mcphatter. **lead Clyde McPhatter and Bill Brown.

The Dominoes Billy Ward, Clyde McPhatter, James Van Loan (born 6-December-1922 - died 1976 - cause: ? -- later member of The Ravens on Argo and The Kings on Baton), William Joseph Lamonte and Bill Brown)

Federal 12059 - That's What You're Doing To Me* / When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano* - 1952 *Lead Clyde Mcphatter.

The Dominoes (members Billy Ward, Clyde McPhatter, James Van Loan, William Joseph Lamonte and Raymond Johnson (former member of The Beavers))

The Dominoes (members Billy Ward, Clyde McPhatter, James Van Loan, William Joseph Lamonte and David McNeil (born 1932 --- died 7-January-2005 in New Haven, Connecticut --- cause: cancer --- a former member of The Larks on Apollo))

Federal 12068 - Deep Sea Blues* / Have Mercy Baby* - 1952 *Lead Clyde McPhatter.

Federal 12072 - That's What You're Doing To Me* / Love, Love, Love** - 1952 *lead Clyde McPhatter. **lead Bill Brown.
Federal 12105 - No Room* / I'd Be Satisfied** - 1952 *lead Johnny Oliver. **lead Clyde McPhatter.
Federal 12106 - I'm Lonely* / Your's Forever** - 1952 *lead Johnny Oliver. **lead Clyde McPhatter.
Federal 12114 - The Bells* / Pedal Pushin' Papa** - 1952 *lead Clyde McPhatter. **lead David McNeil.
Federal 12129 - Don't Leave Me This Way* / These Foolish Things* - 1953 *lead Clyde McPhatter.

Clyde McPhatter leaves group in 1953 and is replaced by Jackie "Sonny" Wilson.

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