Sunday, February 20, 2005

It wasn't a hit.

The first time I heard The Sheppards was in 1980. I walked into the Paradise Records on Hixson Pike in Chattanooga and somebody had just put the 1980 Solid Smoke compilation on. I liked it but I was sixteen years old and looking for Who albums not reissues of forgotten records by twenty-year-old vocal groups.

I never heard or saw another copy of The Sheppards until I found a copy of the Collectibles reissue in the used bins at Sunburst Records in 1999. It was $1.99 but even if it was ten times that I still would have bought it. The sound that I wasn't looking for had been stuck in my brain for almost twenty years. Specifically this song. Good thing they had a name that was easy for me to remember.

The Sheppards started in 1959 when two Chicago vocal groups (The Ballads and The Bel-Aires) merged into one band. They signed to Apex Records, a label run by Bill 'Bunky' Sheppard who must've gotten naming rights thrown in on the deal. In addition to being Gene Chandler's manager Sheppard had produced records, including one by the Bel-Aires in 1958.

The Sheppards first record was "Island Of Love". This song just missed the top 100 in 1959. The b-side was pretty good too.

There were records released over the next few years but it was the 1961 song "Tragic" that got The Sheppards on American Bandstand. It wasn't a hit.

And there were a few more records after "Tragic" but The Sheppards still didn't have any hits. Not even OKeh Records could get the group a popular record.

The Sheppards broke up in 1969. They were in between Doo-wop and Soul. More people should know who they were.

I found a website that says there was a group called the Cavaliers that had future Sheppards and someone named Andre Williams. This Andre Williams? Did they record anything? Anybody know for sure?


Blogger theoldroadhog said...

"Tragic"! I LOVE that song, how did wou know? Good choice.

20/2/05 11:40 AM  

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