Classic Soul – Legendary Escorts
The story began in 1968, behind the walls of Trenton State Prison, when a young Reginald Haynes started a singing group. Little did he know then that the group he named THE ESCORTS would become a legend in their own right.
Like countless artist before him, Reginald sang on street corners, local talent shows and occasionally, in various church choirs. Then suddenly, although still a teenager, he found himself behind prison walls because of what he terms, "a stupid and foolish act." There are various ways of doing time in prison, says Reginald. " You let the time do you and become involved with an element worse then the most hellish of acts, or you can decline your surroundings and become involved in doing the time and turning the negatives around you into something positive and playfully fruitful.
Following his first love, singing, Reginald sought out three other inmates who shared his view of prison life and his lust for singing. Out of this simple act grew what was later to be recorded as a history-making event. THE ESCORTS were born and a Cinderella story began to unfold.
Two years later, in 1970 THE ESCORTS were doing what they did best. Performing on stage at the infamous Rahway State Prison as prison officials, prison guards, visitors and hardcore inmates cheered, stomped, clapped. Little did they know that the late, great LINDA JONES (HYPNOTIZE), sister to one of their fellow inmates, was sitting in the audience accompanied by her producer/manager, George Kerr. Kerr who was a veteran from the stable of Barry Gordy,Jr. and the early mot own days was in his own words" shocked and amazed to find this type of raw, pulsating talent in prison. " After the show George Kerr approached Reginald and told him that he thought THE ESCORTS were stupendous. Then he said something that would change Reginald’s life forever and earn them both permanent residence in world history. Kerr said I want to do something that’s never been done in the history of the entertainment world. I want to record THE ESCORTS here in Rahway State Prison. Reginald was elated at the prospect of turning professional and so their journey into the entertainment history books began.
With Kerr working on the outside and Reginald and THE ESCORTS working on the inside they amassed a strong group of supporters and began to collectively hound prison officials for two years until finally; although faced with overwhelming criticism from prison wardens all over America, the warden of Rahway State Prison said yes. It took two agonizing years but finally the dream of doing something that had never been done would be realized, at last.
On April 23, 1973 THE ESCORTS recorded their first album" ALL WE NEED IS ANOTHER CHANCE. " As if the recording itself were not enough of a miracle THE ESCORTS recorded all vocals for all seven songs in less than nine (9) hours. The event received mass media coverage worldwide and was hailed with phenomenal applause and respect. Indeed the dream had come true; history was made.
According to Alithia Records and George Kerr they knew they had a hit because the albums and single releases were selling very well allover the world. The album was shipped in May 1973 and by mid June 1973 had already sold approximately 100.000 copies. The record buying public had given THE ESCORTS a resounding thumbs up that still continues to this day. THE ESCORTS records, tapes and CD’s are still selling and very much in demand today. " ALL WE NEED IS ANOTHER CHANCE" has been selling for some 26 years now with no ending in sight.
On June 20, 1973 Reginald Haynes was released from Rahway State Prison. He was anxious to start his life as the founder and lead vocalist of THE ESCORTS. Reginald began a non-stop tour across the country, from east coast to west coast promoting " ALL WE NEED IS ANOTHER CHANCE" and THE ESCORTS on radio, television and various print medias still he found time to visit hospitals, youth detention centers and mental hospitals where he became an image of hope to those who had lost hope. If he could come from the depths of hell and make it; maybe, they could make it to. His message was and is; Believe in GOD for GOD Believes in YOU.
In the spring of 1974 THE ESCORTS recorded a second album, " 3 DOWN & 4 TO GO. " The message of the album was that three members of the group were free and four more were still seeking freedom. Like its predecessor, this album was also recorded be
hind the walls of Rahway State Prison and was equally embraced by audiences screaming for more. Across the country, Reginald and the two newly released members of THE ESCORTS continued to mesmerize audiences starting with turn out performances at the world famous Apollo Theatre.
Then in 1975 Reginald decided to make a dramatic change in his career. Although THE ESCORTS were inter-nationally successful and listed as one of the top R&B groups, Reginald decided to develop a different side of his creativity. He embarked upon a solo career.
In the midst of promoting and developing his solo career, fate dealt Reginald a devastating blow. He was arrested for a crime he did not commit and in 1977 he was sent back to prison with a term of 14 to 19 years. Reginald began struggling with his worst nightmare; trying to prove his innocence while at the same time trying to maintain his sanity. His wife Oona’o after endless attempts at trying to regain his freedom, initiated The Citizens Defense Committee and wrote a book entitled"
I CALL HIM REGGIE, THEY CALL HIM #597461 " in order to bring attention to their plight. The book created controversy and the public reacted via hundreds and hundreds of people signed petitions requesting a new trial, free of the improprieties and outrageous irregularities of the trial and jury that found him guilty. The petitions were denied hence the long hard battle for his freedom which lasted some seven odd years. The battle finally ended in August 1983 but Reginald was not the same.
Having survived the holocaust of unjust imprisonment returning back to singing was the last thing on Reginald’s’ mind. He was content just to be free at last. But his family and friends and fans wouldn’t let him forget. Everywhere he went he was recognized and prodded to return to the stage. Reginald was unsure as to whether he was still able/capture his audiences attention so he performed locally and to his joy he was received with open arms and rave reviews from his fans. The" Prophet of Love and Song" was back and better than ever. He was offered a chance to record and produce his own album. In 1988 he recorded his first solo album" ON WINGS OF LOVE. " A collection of love songs dedicated to his wife. His solo career began to blossom, but he just couldn’t forget the group he gave life to; THE ESCORTS.
After being separated for many years George Kerr reentered Reginald’s life and his thoughts echoed Reginald’s; lets put the group back together. Time and the various tolls of life made
it impossible to revive the old ESCORTS. After much soul searching he decided to abandon his solo career and give new life to the group that was his brainchild 20 years ago. Reginald began the search for new ESCORTS. But this time he wanted top professionals who would be loyal to THE ESCORTS legacy, have the principals and abilities necessary to perpetuate and enhance the legacy and most importantly men who believed in and bowed down to the son of GOD. Reginald began holding auditions and soon found out that finding new ESCORTS would not be an easy task.
After weeks of auditions in walks this guy named William Billy Martin. He was a family man who had been singing all of his life. He had mastery of all notes from bass to falsetto and he could lead. But most importantly he loved GOD. As soon as Billy began to sing Reginald know he had found his first ESCORT.
A few weeks later Reginald was again blessed when into his life walked La’Grant Carlos Barris. La’Grant had always been a fan of THE ESCORTS and the prospect of joining the group was a dream come true. He had the heart of an ESCORT, which as good but when Reginald and Billy heard the sweetness of his tenor they knew the group was complete. Reginald thanked GOD for he knew he had chosen well with William Billy Martin and La’Grant Carlos Harris. He knew that once again and for all time there would be THE LEGENDARY ESCORTS.
In 1992 THE LEGENDARY ESCORTS got together with George Kerr and recorded what would turn out to be the last project they would record together. The name of the CD was" BACK TO LOVE" which proved beyond any doubt that THE LEGENDARY ESCORTS truly are: The Ambassadors Of Love. The smoothness, the silkiness and the sweet harmonizing which has always been THE LEGENDARY ESCORTS style was all there; still it was time to move on.
After much soul searching the guys decided that it was time to take what they called the Barry Gordy Motown two-step. It was time to remember all of the knowledge they had acquired from countless situations over the years and start their own record company, TLE Music Productions, Inc. The guys had talked about’ forming their own label for many years and in their mind now is the time, _LB Music Productions time.
Reginald "Prophet Haynes", William "Billy" Martin and La’Grant Carlos Harris have been criss-crossing the country from Boston’s Strand Theatre to the Performing Arts Center in Anchorage Alaska. The love and ovations consistently receive from new and old fans from all ethnic backgrounds, is indeed phenomenal. It probably has something to do with THE LEGENDARY ESCORTS philosophy; feed the people and the people will feed you; love the people and the people will love you, respect the people and the people will respect and support you.
THE LEGENDARY ESCORTS thank their fans and friends allover the world -for giving them so much love and support for over 25 years now and they ask you to continue to
PLEASE INCREASE THE PEACE, BECAUSE LOVE IS TRULY WHERE ITS AT.
Its THE LEGENDARY ESCORTS time……….