By Dianne Washington
Happy Heavenly Birthday Brenda!
Brenda & the Tabulations were an American R&B group formed in 1966 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, originally composed of Brenda Payton, Eddie L. Jackson, Maurice Coates and Jerry Jones.
The group had a distinctive, almost doo wop sound, especially at the start, featuring Payton’s sweet occasionally rough-edged vocals with background male harmonies. The line-up changed around 1971 with the original three men departing. Two female backing singers (Pat Mercer and Deborah Martin) were brought in to support Payton.
The group had a series of hit singles in the late 1960s and early 1970s, mainly in the US soul charts and on small independent labels, Dionn and Top & Bottom, operated by the group’s manager, Gilda Woods. However, two were big US pop hits; their first release, “Dry Your Eyes” (Pop #20, R&B #2) on Dionn in 1967; and then later in 1971, “Right On The Tip Of My Tongue”, (Pop #23, R&B #5). The first was written by Payton with group member Maurice Coates and produced by Bob Finiz and the latter written and produced by Van McCoy.
The group signed for major label, Epic/Columbia in 1972 but despite continuing to work with producer Van McCoy, the four singles released were relatively unsuccessful, with only “One Girl Too Late” managing to chart.
The group released three albums, Dry Your Eyes on Dionn (1967), Brenda and the Tabulations on Top & Bottom (1970) and I Keep Coming Back For More on Chocolate City/Casablanca (1977), although by the time of the last album, Brenda was a solo act while keeping the group name.
Brenda & the Tabulations are one of many recording artists referenced in the song “Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)” by the studio group, Reunion.
Brenda Payton, who was born on October 24, 1945, died on June 14, 1992, aged 46 of breast cancer. Eddie L. Jackson died on May 3, 2010, from a brain aneurysm, at the age of 63.
The group’s music saw a revival in awareness in 2011, when “The Wash” from the Dry Your Eyes album was licensed by Unilever for use in an Axe body wash commercial.