My Day with Chuck Barksdale of the Mighty Dells (8/19/2007)
Sometimes when I am writing I often wonder if anyone is reading.
I mean, after all, in reality, who am I to think that anyone should be interested in anything that I might have to say about anything? In fact, the only true way of knowing with any sense of realism if anyone even bothers to read what I write, would be if someone replied with a response, right?
Usually whenever we write something on the internet, you just simply have to take it on faith that “someone else” is out there reading it, even when there is no written feedback.
So as a result I learned long ago to simply accept the fact that “someone else” is gonna read what I write, that is something that I have to believe in. Because if I don’t believe it, then for me there is no point in writing at all. I have to feel that the act of writing something down and sending it out is going to have an impact, even if it’s a small one. In short, I have to feel that I have a “fan” out there, “someone else” that I am communicating with, even if that communication is “one way.” Communication is a basic human need and in many ways, its one of the primary purposes that is filled by the internet.
Well I know that I have at least one “fan” out there. “Someone else” that I know is reading whatever I write, be it “profound”, “silly” or “stupid”.
And that person would be Mr. Chuck Barksdale, best known as the bass singer of the Dells, and this past Monday I got to spend the better part of 5 hours with Chuck in a hotel room just outside of Philadelphia.
It is said that when Lyndon Johnson was the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, he was able to get many things done, because of his physical size. It is said that Lyndon Johnson was able to actually change the votes of his fellow US Senators, by simply putting his hand on their shoulder as he talked with them, using his physical size as an intimidating factor within the context of the conversation. Chuck Barksdale is a big dude. He is “NBA power forward sized” and combined with his deep bass voice is an imposing and intimidating conversationalist, much as I would imagine that Lyndon Johnson was as a United States Senator.
To be in a hotel room with Chuck Barksdale for 5 hours means that you are going to be doing a whole lot more listening than you will talking.
And that is why he is the “spokesperson” for the Dells. Some people say that Soul-Patrol got the Dells into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. No doubt we played a role in that. However I always tell people that it was Chuck Barksdale who got the Dells into the ROCK N’ ROLL HALL OF FAME. I personally watched him lobby and schmoose the members of the ROCK N’ ROLL HALL OF FAME Nominating committee with the same kind of political skills that Lyndon Johnson must have used in the United States Senate.
At this point in time, I have now known Chuck Barksdale for about 10 years.
Of course I have really known Chuck Barksdale for almost 40 years and have been a fan of his for at least that long. That does because it was Chuck Barksdale who introduced not only me, but my entire generations to the music of the Dells back in 1969 when he said the words “Do You Remember A Night….” It is the bass voice of Chuck Barksdale that you hear at the beginning of the Dells AWESOME remake of their 1955 hit called “Oh What a Night”. This is one case where the “remake smokes the original” because they “modernized” the original with Chuck Barksdale’s “stoopid funky” spoken word intro and it became an even bigger hit than the original. I’m certain that I have listened to that song at least 1,000 times. And I listened to it what seems like 1,000 more times at the rehearsal for the Dells induction into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. And on that day as good as the song is, it never sounded better to my ears.
That’s how long I have been a fan of Chuck Barksdale.
A few years ago backstage at one of the Dells concerts, Chuck pulled me aside and told me…
“Bob, I just wanted to let you know, that although I may not post a written reply to you, I read EVERYTHING that you write. I also wanted to let you know that I am never going to write you a reply. It’s just much easier for me to call you on the phone, than for me to type out anything. So if I have a reply, I’m just going to call you, ok?”
So it turns out that Chuck Barksdale is a “fan” of mine and he reads what I write. Nothing could make me happier.
The stated reason why I was to meet Chuck in his hotel room, was because I was going there with my laptop computer & microphone, to record his “spoken word intro’s” for the two songs that the Dells are donating to the “Soul-Patrol Virtual Album 1.0.” So in other words, I am going to be recording the spoken word intro’s of the man who is the master of the spoken word intro. Chuck didn’t really have to do that. He could have recorded the intro and sent it to me. As intimate as the internet sometimes appears to be, it can also be cold and impersonal. But that’s not the kind of person that he is. Chuck wanted to personally give me the intro so that I could give it to Soul-Patrol. It’s totally personal and totally in line with the way that things are supposed to be.
We quickly got thru with the recording and then we just talked.
And we talked.
And we talked.
The time flew and I felt like I had just completed a college course called “How To Be Real Black Man” (When the rest of the world wants you to be a n*gger). It was an American history lesson for sure, as told to me the way that only a person who had actually been there could tell the story.
Talk about “connecting the dots”. Names like Dinah Washington, Sam Cooke, Sammy Davis Jr., Lola Falana, Miles Davis, Kenny Gamble, Harvey Fuqua, Louis Farrakhan, O’Jays, Blue Magic, Prince, Herman Lubinsky, Frank Sinatra and more all interwoven in a story that mostly can’t be repeated at this time.
It’s a story that probably can’t be written, till Chuck is no longer here to read it and then call me up with a reply. But it’s an American history lesson that he felt that I should know. And he was right because it should be written down, so that it can be passed along. And in the very best oral tradition of a true griot, Chuck laid the story out for me, so that I can tell it one day.
In addition to “the story”, the conversation was filled with advice and guidance for me on multiple levels. That’s because Chuck Barksdale is a “fan” of mine. I have learned over the years that when older people want to take the time to impart some of their wisdom to me, that is the time for me to keep my mouth shut and to listen. So I absorbed Chuck’s advice not simply because he was an older person giving me a shot of wisdom. You see it means just that much more coming from Chuck, because he really is a “fan” of mine. And he cares enough about me to want to impart that wisdom to me in person and alone.
Writing on the internet sometimes has the feeling of being alone in the forest. When you are alone in the forest, you can yell, but you can never really be sure if anyone else can hear you. And when you write on the internet, you can never be certain if anyone else is even paying attention.
I am fortunate. I know that whenever I write something on the internet, that there is always “someone else” who is ALWAYS reading what I write. That “someone else” is Chuck Barksdale.
And yes it is true; he is a “fan” of Bob Davis the writer.
But more importantly, Chuck Barksdale is a friend of mine and he wants the rest of yall to know that he is a friend of yours as well, even though, you will most likely never see it in writing from him….
Find out more about the Mighty, Mighty Dells at:
R.I.P. Marvin Junior – The Multi-Generational “Voice” of Black Culture
My very first encounter with the Dells was in 1969. I had just heard the song “Oh What a Night” on the radio in NYC. I was listening to the radio in my bedroom and of course I thought the song was off the hook. As the song was just about to end, my father walked in to the room and said:
Mr. Davis: What’s That you are listening to?
Young Earthjuice: It’s a brand new song.
Mr. Davis: That song isn’t new.
Young Earthjuice: Frankie Crocker just said that; “it’s the brand new release from the Dells.”
Mr. Davis: It may be a new release, but that song is old as dirt. It first came out when I was a teenager and the guy singing it has to be at least my age, if not older.
Sure enough, as I would later learn, via continuous listening to Frankie Crocker, the Dells had indeed originally released the song “Oh What a Night,” back in 1955. Frankie said that it had been a hit song and that the Dells were one of the few “doo wop” groups that were still around & kickin. He also said that the Dells lead singer Marvin Junior had co-written and sang on the original 1955 version of the song.
Years later when I met Marvin Junior, I told him that story. He told me that he has heard a variation of that same story many times from many different people. He said that every time he hears it that it made him smile because it means that the Dells are truly “multi-generational.”
And that they are. Marvin Junior might just be the single most influential “voice” in the history of Black music. His influence on male singers like Teddy Pendergrass, David Ruffin, Cee Lo Green and others are quite obvious. Other influences are just as powerful, but perhaps not quite so obvious. Take for example of friend Chuck D, front man of the legendary rap group Public Enemy. A few years ago, Chuck D. told me that when he first started, he intentionally set out to sound as much like Marvin Junior as possible. I didn’t quite believe him, so I decided to spend an afternoon listening to Public Enemy songs & Dells songs, back to back to back. The vocal similarities are astounding. Chuck really does sound like Marvin. Not exactly, but “almost,” in the same kind of way that Teddy P. & David Ruffin did.
So one way we can think about Marvin Junior is that his influence runs from “doo wop to hip hop.”
But more important would be to think about and consider, exactly why Marvin would have such a multi-generational influence?
Well I think that is also painfully obvious. Marvin’s voice is that of a proud and virile Black man. It is of someone who recognizes the struggle that he faces and faces it head on. It is a voice of teachers & preachers. It is a voice that all men who want to influence others would want to emulate. It is in fact the voice of leadership. Listen carefully to speeches of people like MLK, Jessie Jackson, Louis Farrakhan & others. Listen to the voices of some of your favorite Black politicians, DJ’s, actors, etc. Don’t many of them sound like they are emulating the voice of Marvin Junior?
All of this may just be too much to think about or to consider, after all wasn’t this man just a singer? Or even just a great singer?
Well perhaps you are correct?
Perhaps it is all too complex to think about?
Maybe I should just let it go?
After all, the whole topic of Rhythm & Blues itself is a pretty complex topic, and perhaps it’s complexity is best left alone and we should simply focus on the songs?
Marvin Junior wasn’t really what you would consider “computer literate.”
However he was quite interested in Soul-Patrol.com. He told me that he would have someone print out many of the things I had written, and whenever I would see him, we would have conversations about some of the topics I had written about.
Once backstage Marvin said to me; “Bob one of the reasons that I like you so much is because you understand that Rhythm & Blues is a complex thing.”
Of course I knew just where he was going, but I could tell that he wanted to let it all out, so I said to him…
How so Marvin?
Marvin said;“One of the reasons why some Americans prefer Blues over Rhythm and Blues, is because Blues is pretty simple. Blues is easy to play and it’s easy to relate to. Blues is straightforward, simple, and reflects a back to a time that is simple and uncomplicated. Rhythm and Blues on the other hand was born first of the complexities of the great migration of Blacks from the south, then the complexities of WW II and the integration movement of the 1950’s/1960’s. Rhythm and Blues is complex, it’s harder to play, harder to interpret, it’s complicated and carries with it implications for America that some Americans don’t want to deal with.”
Of course I smiled and when I did, I thought about all of the people from the major music publications who questioned why the Dells belonged in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. They told me that they thought the Dells weren’t significant enough, that they hadn’t accomplished enough, etc. I could look into their eyes and know what they were really thinking.
They were thinking; “the Dells are nothing but a broken down, bunch of dumb doo wop singers, who in no way shape or form belong in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.”
They never bothered to get to know Marvin Junior.
And that was their loss.
They just might have missed out on their opportunity to learn something about Rhythm and Blues, but also about the true origins of Rock n Roll, from one of it’s masters!
But then again, maybe that is what they were afraid of?
Back to that “leadership thing” for just a moment….
Whenever I was around Marvin and started talking about artists like Smokey Robinson or Lionel Ritchie, Marvin would always say the same thing…
“Bob, what I don’t understand is why when these guys decide to go solo, they don’t take the rest of the group with them? Seems to me that even as a solo artist, you still need background singers, why not keep the same background singers who made you successful in the first place? After all, these are the people who best know how to maximize your strengths & minimize your weaknesses…”
Now to be perfectly clear, speaking as someone who knows the Dells very well, I can tell you that the Dells don’t have a “leader.”
They are the shining example of “harmony” on multiple levels, which each member making a valuable contribution to the whole, if often unseen by the general public. Notice I didn’t say that they always agree on everything. But they always found a way to make “harmony” out of a disagreement. That’s the reason why the Dells have been together for so long, unlike many of their contemporaries.
But Marvin was their lead singer, on most of their songs. And he certainly could have become a “solo artist” had he wanted to. But instead he stands as a shining example of “leadership among equals.” And that my friend is something that we can all take inspiration from.
RIP – Marvin Junior
NOTE: Marvin Junior will have private services.
RIP Johnnie Carter (Dells & Flamingos)
Johnnie Carter passed away last week. It wasn’t a shock to me, because I had been aware that he had been ill for quite some time. Johnnie was truly one of the greatest singers of his generation and quite possibly the greatest 1st Tenor in the history of popular music. IMHO Johnnie Carter together with Marvin Junior comprise the very best “hi-lo combination’ in the history of Black music (yes even better than Ruffin/Kendricks.)
Unlike most of his peers from the world of Black Music that we could discuss here, Johnnie Carter did in fact recive his props from the music industry. He is one of just a handful of artists who has been inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame twice. That puts him in the company of artists such as Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, and Michael Jackson. In other words, be it by accident or by design he has been awarded the highest possible accolades that an artist can receive from the music industry. I just thought that you all needed to be aware of that simple fact!!!
However none of this is what I will remember most about Johnnie Carter. What I will remember most about Johnnie Carter is what the picture of him that you see above conveys. Johnnie Carter was one hell of a guy, who accepted me into the Dells family from day one. He always had a joke for you, sometime clean, but mostly dirty 🙂 He was a person who loved life to the fullest and who made it his business to make certain that you always walked away from him with a smile.
Yes indeed, Johnnie Carter was a great singer, but more importantly he was my friend and I will miss him more than any words that I could write could ever tell you…
Album Review: The Dells Sing Dionne Warwicke’s Greatest Hits
1. I’ll Never Fall In Love Again
2. Walk On By
3. This Guy’s In Love With You
4. Raindrops Keep Fallin On My Head
5. I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
6. Close To You
7. Trains & Boats & Planes
8. A House Is Not a Home
9. I Say a Little Prayer
11. Wives & Lovers
This album is a Chess records reissue, originally released in 1972, back when I was in 11th grade and wouldn’t have paid it any mind because this album doesn’t have anything to do with pushing any teenaged girls up against a basement wall in the dark.
However if you are a little older than an 11th grader, you will find quite a bit here to enjoy and savor with your significant other, who should also be a bit beyond the 11th grade as well.
If you are looking for outakes from the “70’s Soul Jam”, just keep on steppin. Because if you dare to stick THIS album into your CD player, ger ready instead for some “revolutionary pop music.”
There are those times when it becomes a requirement to listen to an album in the manner that an album was meant to be listened to. Especially when it comes to listening to a blast from the past, that embodies all that I thought that I knew, but in reality never really knew, until this particular moment in time.
An album in my opinion was meant to be listened to as if it was an event. Back in the day, the mere purchase of an album was cause in and of itself to be a celebration. It meant that you would at some point in time, shortly after making the purchase allocate a period of time to do nothing else but just listen to that album, preferably with headphones on. So when you listen to this album, don’t do what I did, instead create an event for yourself to experience all that is going on here, so that you don’t miss anything.
This is an album I had to listen to twice, before sitting down to compose this piece. That’s because the very first time I listened to it I made the mistake of listening to it in the car, during a family “daytrip”. You know, with the kids screaming, and the wife telling me that I missed the exit 10 miles ago.
This isn’t the type of an album that you can listen to in that fashion. You have to listen to this album for the very first time alone, and with headphones. If you don’t you might just miss the obvious.
It’s old fashioned.
It’s reflective of the timeframe that it was created in.
It’s a MONSTER JAM, however you need to be in the “bat cave” in order to listen to it.
But more importantly, you need to have a 1972 frame of mind when you are listening.
In 1972, I was in the 11th grade and of course I thought that I knew everything about everything.
And one of those things that I thought that I knew everything about was the Dells.
1. You get the voices of the Mighty Dells, at the peak of their powers.
2. You get the songwriting of Burt Bacharach and Hal David
3. You get the musical genius of Charles Stephany, producing.
So imagine the following…Earth, Wind & Fire (sorta) + the FUNK of the Pharaohs + Phil Upchurch + the Dells + Some of the greatest pop music songs of it’s generation.
Some of these songs are “dated” and sound “1960 ish”, however we also know that “dated/1960 ish”, just won 5 Grammy Awards (Amy Wienhouse.)
This is the type of music that in 1972, armed with my own infinite knowledge of the Dells and possessing all of the wisdom that a typical 11th grader would have had, would have written off very quickly.
However today at the age of 51, it sounds like innovative pop music, with a serious edge. And that is EXACTLY what it is…
Track #2 (“WALK ON BY”)is a masterpiece, starting with the Charles Stephany led orchestra (acoustic EWF if you will) in a symphonic mode, the “background Dells” (Chuck, Mickey and Vern) singing….”If You See Me Walking Down the Street….”, and then (first) Johnnie Carter and
(then) Marvin Junior singing as a duet singing “WALK ON BY”. Then it just turns into a vocal feast combining acapella backgrounds, solos, duets, trios, just a touch of funk and more. It’s almost as though the Dells are multiple groups, singing together, separately, in sequence, out of sequence and more. It’s pure magic!!!
The Dells version of “Walk on By”, just might be the best that I have ever heard them sing and more important that what I think, it seems that Charles Stephany agrees with me, because he seems to have tailored the instrumentation (including horns & strings) to compliment the Dells voices in a manner that neither you nor I have ever heard before.
Trust me, you have NEVER and NEVER will hear the Dells sing as well together as you will on this song! It alone is worth the price of admission.
However there is more….
– On “Close To You”, they sound like a 1950’s jazz vocal group (which they were when they backed Dinah Washington)
– On “A House is Not a Home”, you quickly forget that Luther Vandross ever sang the song
– “I Say A Little Prayer” is a showcase for Johnny Carter (the man who can sing anything)
– “Alfie” is done with Phil Upchurch leading the way on electric guitar and Johnny Carter on lead and absolutely tearing up those beautiful words, almost as a solo artist.
– “Wives & Lovers” is interesting, because we get to hear Chuck Barksdale on lead and wonder what the possibilities might have been…
So at the end of the day, you get the Dells presented as not a “doo wop” or “slow jam” group, but as multi dimensional “pop artists”, with an edge. I have heard the Dells in many situations and with many different types of material. And now after listening to this album it leaves me with more questions than answers.
There are moments of true brilliance here that need to be heard to be appreciated as the masterpieces that they are.
Yet at the same time it also feels like a bunch of brothas in the studio, who said…
“we could just kick their azz anytime we feel like it, so just for the heck of it, let’s just do it and record it…”
And sometimes in music, just like in basketball, you just have to kick their azz, simply because you can…
Find out more about this album at:
The Dells Sing Dionne Warwicke’s Greatest Hits
THE MIGHTY, MIGHTY DELLS ARE FINALLY IN THE ROCK N’ ROLL HALL OF FAME!!!
Hey Yall….The Mighty, Mighty Dells Have a NEW CD!!!
Here is a press release describing the relationship between our very own MIGHTY, MIGHTY DELLS and the “OPEN UP YOUR HEART FOUNDATION”.
It this relationship which is at the heart of the MIGHTY, MIGHTY DELLS new release…
PICK UP ON:
‘OPEN UP MY HEART’: The 911 Suite’
Open Up My Heart, Inc, a non-profit foundation founded by Nina Dawne-Williams, Esquire. The foundation will raise funds to assist the neediest victims (i.e., the janitors, couriers, temporary workers, cooks) of the 9/11 attacks. In a special donation, The Dells re-recorded “Open Up My Heart,” with new artists, and will contribute a portion of the sales from the CD, to this effort.
The Dells started their career in Harvey, Illinois, in 1953. Their first hit, “Oh What A Night” sold over one million records and became an immediate R&B hit. By 1967, — under the musical production team of Miller and Stepney — the Dells charted a string of R&B Billboard hits, including number one R&B hits: “Stay in My Corner,” and “Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation,” certified million seller, in 1973. The Dells have charted forty-four R&B hits that sailed to the top of the charts. These hits transformed the Dells as an opening act from a Chicago suburb to major concert headliners around the world.
In 1991, producer/director/writer Robert Townsend released the commercial and critically acclaimed hit film, “The Five Heartbeats.” The movie, based on the lives and careers of the Dells, produced another R&B Billboard hit: “A Heart Is A House for Love.” For 50 years, the Dells continue to set the standard for top-to-bottom male harmony.
The Dells immense contributions to the music industry and their popularity among R&B fans worldwide over the past 50 years have garnered them many prestigious awards, among them: The NAACP Image Award, the Soul of America Music Award, and inductees into the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Hall of Fame Award.
Dells 50th Anniversary Reception in Washington DC
Last night, Friday, April 5th,,2002, I had the privilege of attending a very special event in Washington DC!
It was a gala reception held at “Zanzibar on the Waterfront” honoring Soul-Patrol’s very own MIGHTY, MIGHTY DELLS to commemorate their 50th anniversary as a group and to celebrate the release of their BRAND NEW CD.This new CD is INDEPENDENTLY PRODUCED and some of the proceeds as you all know will be donated to the “Open Up Your Heart” foundation.
The new CD was produced to assist the thousands of “nameless” victims of the September 11 tragedy. Unlike other fundraising efforts, this effort is specifically designed to provide monetary help to thousands of domestic and unskilled workers, cafeteria helpers, hotel attendants and others who are now out of work or homeless as a result of the 9/11 attacks. The event was a wonderful tribute to the musical legacy of the Dells! The Dells were presented with an award from the Mayors office of Washington DC by the City Council and the mother of Washington Mayor, Anthony Williams.
There was also an auction of a giant sized replica of the article about the Dells, which appeared in last week’s Jet Magazine.
The auction raised $1,000.00 for the “Open up My Heart Foundation. Dells “bass man” (& Soul-Patroller) Chuck Barksdale gave a short speech to the crowd of about 200 in which he focused on both the history of the Dells and also the charity for which “Open up My Heart–The 9/11 Anthem” will be raising $$$$$$$$$ for.(note: Chuck also made special mention of Soul-Patrol and he took the time to thank all of YOU out there for “staying in the corner” of the MIGHTY, MIGHTY DELLS damn near since the day we have started…..all of yall please take a bow :-))Soon I will have the links for any of you out there who are interested in making your own contribution to this worthy cause by purchacing the CD, here online.Other notables in attendance that I met were Hollywood Agent Darnell Sutton, Ms Effi Barry (the ex: wife of the former mayor of Washington DC), The crew from “Teenrama Inc.” (a Washington DC based organization which teaches “Classic soul dancing” to young people in the DC area), Al Dale (longtime DC area R&B promoter), DC area Jazz group “Sketches”, DC area PR Guru Linda Greene, Nina-Dawne Williams, CEO and many others from the world of Washington DC politics, entertainment and sports. Soul-Patrollers in attendance (besides the Vern Allison, Johnnie Carter, Chuck Barksdale, Marvin Junior and Michael McGill of the Dells) were: Zielove
AAdamsRib , “Pookie” Hudson of the Spaniels and a few “lurkers.” I had a great time at this event and I thank those who were kind enough to invite Soul-Patrol.NP: “Open up My Heart–The 9/11 Anthem.”–Bob Davis
4/6/2002 An ‘Unbiased’ Overview of the Dells
This group has persevered since 1952, having a string of hit records starting with the Doo Wop classic “Oh What a Night” in 1956 right up to today’s Urban Contemporary scene with the hit song “A Heart Is A House For Love” in 1991. They have performed in every style from doo wop, soul, funk disco and urban contemporary, as is documented in the hit movie “The Five Heartbeats”! The Dells were the inspiration for the movie “The Five Heartbeats”, and they have had over 40 hits, with 24 crossing over to the pop charts!
Through it all, The Dells have made only one personnel change in their entire professional career. Although not always on a smooth road, The Dells managed a longevity realized by very few recording groups and they are still one of the premier vocal groups in the world today! A significant accomplishment in any genre! In addition to their own records, The Dells are a primary influence on such artists as the Chi-Lites, Delphonics, Dramatics, Al Green, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, The Persuaders, The Spinners, The Stylistics, Maurice White/EWF, Don Covay, The Floaters, Marvin Gaye, Manhattans, Teddy Pendergrass and others.A Few Of the MIGHTY, MIGHTY Dells Hit Songs Include:* “Oh What A Nite” (’56 #4 R&B)
* “Stay In My Corner” (’68 #1 R&B, #10 Pop)
* “Always Together” (’68 #3 R&B, #18 Pop)
* “I Can Sing A Rainbow / Love Is Blue” (’69 #5 R&B, #22 Pop) * “Oh, What A Night” (#1 R&B, #10 Pop)
* “Open Your Heart” (’70 #5 R&B)
* “The Love We Had (Stays On My Mind)” (’71 #8 R&B, #30 Pop)
* “Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation” (’73 #3 R&B, #34 Pop)
* “I Miss You” (’73 #8 R&B)The Dells are recipients of The Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s “Pioneer Hall Of Fame Award”, the 124th Annual NAACP’s Image Award”, the “Soul Of American Music Award”, the “Illinois NARAS Governors Award” the “Jackie Awards”, and many lifetime achievement awards from Governors and Mayors.
Soul Patrol and The Mighty Mighty Dells
(A ‘BIASED’ Overview)
This morning when I got up, I decided to watch a little TV. As I flipped thru the stations I ran across the movie “The Five Heartbeats” playing on HBO.
Of course I have seen this movie many times before, just as I am sure that most of you have. However when I watch the movie now it’s from a completely different perspective.
That’s because now I know the Dells!!!!!!By the way, the Dells are · Chuck Barksdale
· Vern Allison
· Mickey McGill
· Johnnie Carter
· Marvin JuniorIf you go into the SoulPowerSearch database and run a query on the Dells, you will find that there are 3,100 entries in there about them.
Don’t believe me?
Go to this link , enter Dells into the search box and you will see:
The MIGHTY, MIGHTY DELLS probably have been discussed here more than ANY single artist. When I first started Soul-Patrol, I NEVER would have imagined that would have happened. In fact I didn’t even have a web page about the Dells at that time.Is that because I don’t like the Dells?
I am a BIG fan of their music.
I grew up with it, and the music of the Dells was a big part of my “formative years”.
When I was a teenager during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s I (just as I’m sure many of the rest of you) had MANY a young lady “pushed up against a basement wall” GRINDING her into submission to songs like “Stay In My Corner”, “Oh What A Night”, “Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation”, etc. However I must confess that as the years went by I didn’t think much about the Dells. They really weren’t in the public eye much during the 1980’s and the 1990’s with the exception of the time period when the “Five Heartbeats” movie was out. When the Soul-Patrol Mailing list first started one of our first members was Marshall Thompson of the Chi-Lites.
Marshall introduced our friend “Mmdells” to the mailing list and he proceeded to TAKE US ALL TO SCHOOL WITH RESPECT TO THE HISTORY OF BLACK MUSIC.A few months later the list of inductees for the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame was announced and someone posted the list for that year. As always when such lists are posted on the Soul Patrol Mailing list, there was the usual controversy about who was excluded. Then someone asked if the Dells were in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame.
I checked and to my utter surprise I discovered that they had NOT been inducted. I figured they had been put into the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame MANY YEARS AGO.
Then one of our members “SBshowband” began to make many postings on the mailing list urging people to start a letter writing campaign to the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame, and the momentum started to build.This immediately created a flurry of activity.
That page received MEGA HITS from all over the internet and created tons of unexpected publicity for the Soul Patrol Mailing list.
Before we put that page up, our membership was around 600. Within two weeks our membership doubled to around 1200.
The page itself has generated many thousands of letters to the Rock N’ Roll hall of Fame, however in the end we haven’t yet achieved our goal of actually seeing the Dells enshrined into their rightful place into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame.All of you who participated in that effort are to be commended for your commitment and love of our music. You did so by NOT sitting still as one of OUR GREATEST artists was being DISRESPECTED by the very industry to which they had given so much.
The effort also represented an exercise in empowerment, as it showed how we could utilize the power of the internet to unify behind a singular cause, that we could all have influence by doing so. At a time when there is so LITTLE unity in the Black community as a whole, that was a reassuring thing, and we will do things like this again when the time is right :)Our inability to get the Dells in has been a source of frustration to me. At first I didn’t understand the reasons why they weren’t in, basted strictly on the merit of their accomplishments of FOURTY EIGHT YEARS in show business.However now I understand the reasons why and I’ll take this time right now to explain it to you.1. Getting into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame has NOTHING to do with merit, artistry or even longevity. It has EVERYTHING to do with POLITICS.
2. The Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame was created by people (Jann Wenner/Roling Stone Magazine) who have little interest in the actual history of the music, but do have a LARGE interest in satisfying their egos, getting their friends in (1970’s “Classic Rockers”) and making money from the VH-1 Telecast of the awards show.
3. A lot of Black people are under the mistaken notion that the reason the Dells aren’t in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame because of racism. That is NOT true. Over 60 percent of the inductees are Black. The Hall isn’t racist, it’s just stupid.
4. The Black artists that are in there are there either because of politics (Motown and Stax acts) or because they simply can’t be denied (Chuck Berry, Little Richard, James Brown, etc)
5. I take NOTHING away from the other Black artists that have been inducted. They all deserve to be there. I am just pointing out the fact that they have a “constituency”, which is powerful enough to get them in. The Dells don’t. All the Dells have is Soul Patrol.In the end that is somewhat fitting.
It could be argued that the Dells might just be the GREATEST artists in the history of Soul music. They have been around the longest, they have had hit records in every decade since 1950, they have had a movie made about them, they NEVER sold out to trends and they STILL put on a SLAMMIN live show.However, they don’t get recognized by the general media as such.
They didn’t:· Change their name to an unpronounceable symbol
· They didn’t die in a pool of their own vomit under mysterious circumstances in London
· They didn’t bleach their skin white, marry the daughter of Elvis, or molest (allegedly) any children
· They aren’t Gay
· They don’t go around murdering their musical rivals
· They don’t go around shooting up night clubs
· Their lyrics don’t defame Black women and families
· They didn’t sleep their way to the top
· They don’t appear on stage naked.
In short, they didn’t do any of the kind of things that normally get Black entertainers into the news, and thus aren’t a part of the general consciousness of the public!
All they have done is given us some of the very best music that we have heard over the past 48 years and continue to do so. I have met the Dells many times over the past 3 years. I have met them backstage at concerts, in nightclubs, hotel lobbies and awards shows.
They are always gentleman in public and regular brotha’s in private.
They have turned many people on to Soul Patrol and they have also opened many doors for us
They have nothing but love for EVERYONE here on Soul Patrol. In short the Dells are much like Soul Patrol itself.
They have been keeping it REAL, with VERY little recognition and have done so for the long haul.
That’s EXACTLY what Mike and I plan to do!!!!!!!–Bob DavisAlthough I might be bringing up something’s that’s already been covered here…How many of you know about The Dells’ history? More to the point…Was “The Five Heartbeats” really their biography??? Each time I see it, I keep thinking “The Tempts”!
Forget it…….no, not The Temps, it’s the Mighty Dells–mmdells
The Five Heartbeats and The Mighty Mighty Dells
The MIGHTY, MIGHTY Dells, w/cast of the Five Heartbeats!Dells lead singer, Marvin Junior hanging out with actor Micheal Wright at a recent press event at BB King’s in NYC