The Stylistics, with their charisma, style and harmony, evolved into one of the best-selling soul groups ever, as the Philadelphia-based quartet, recorded a remarkable 10 straight-top ten hits during the early 1970’s. Following the success of The O ‘Jays, The Spinners and The Delfonics, the City of Brotherly Love has just enough room for another highly successful soul group.
The story of The Stylistics is not only of success, it is one of early disappointment that eventually led to their meteoric rise. When The Monarchs and The Percussions, two moderately successful Philadelphia’ high school bands dissolved in the late 1960’s, it set the state for a merger that would impact soul music for years. In 1968, Russell Thompkins, Jr., Airrion Love and James Smith of The Monarchs, joined forces with James Dunn and Herbert Murrell of The Percussions, it was then that The Stylistics were born.
In 1971, the group collaborated with producer Thorn Bell, the ingenious’ creator of the “Philly Sound” to release their debut self-titled album. The Stylistics would capture the imagination of the nation and the hearts of its women with their first single. “You’re a Big Girl Now”, which immediately became a top-ten hit and went on to produce 12 consecutive top-ten hits from 1971 to 1974, culminating with their Grammy-Nominated hit, “You Make Me Feel Brand New.”
They released their final album under Bell, “Heavy”, in 1974, but their popularity would not end there. Their 1975 release, “The Best of The Stylistics”, eventually earned double-platinum honors, making it theirhighest selling album ever. As the years following their Bell/Creed collaboration passed, and their production underwent a facelift, The Stylistics would undergo even more changes when Dunn and Smith left the group in the early 80’s, replacing the duo with Van Fields and Harold Brown. Altogether, The Stylistics have appeared on over 40 albums – What started as the innocent union of two ex-high school bands, developed into one of the longest standing, most accomplished soulbands to grace the R&B scene. They continue to perform as only they can, bringing with them the sweet, soulful memories of year’s past.
Harold Melvin’s The Blue Notes reeled off a series of hits off of their 1973 self-titled album, including “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”, and “The Love I Lost”, which reached No. 3 and No. 7 on the Billboard pop charts respectively. Their success continued in 1975, with their To Be True album. In 1975 the group was joined by female vocalist Sharon Paige. The group then went on to release one of their most critically acclaimed albums, “Wake Up Everybody”. The band would release seven more albums, including four compilation albums, but more significant was their role as one of the three original featured bands on the 70 s Soul Jam tour in 1986. Harold Melvin passed away in 1997.
The group today consists of Donnell Gillespie, Rufus Thorn, Anthony Brooks, John Morris and features Sharon Paige, bringing that same array of groovy rhythms and soulful ballads that was the foundation for a young, ambitious Philadelphia soul band in 1954.
Heatwave, one of the most popular soul bands of the past few decades, with their inimitable blend of sweet soul grooves and great pop/soul/dance songs, was formed by the Wilder brothers, Johnnie and Keith, on their discharge from the US Army. The album ‘Gangsters Of The Groove – is a fourteen track album with four brand new songs produced and written by Heatwave. It has the sweet Ohio sound reminiscent in many ways of the great soul groups of the early 80’s such as The O’Jays, The Whispers and Levert, mixed with a melodic European influence.