The story begins in 1958 at Yorkville Vocational High School in Manhattan. Variously known as the Clickettes, Click-ettes or Cliquettes, this undeservedly obscure ‘girl group’ began their career on the Dice label in 1958 under the auspices of hit duo Johnnie and Joe, who owned the label.
According to biographer John Clemente, the original line-up of the Clickettes included lead singer Barbara English, alto Sylvia Hammond, and two sopranos, Trudy and Charlotte McCartney. But according to the group, Trudy sang soprano, Charlotte, baritone. A year after their Dice releases, half the group changed. The McCartney sisters remained in school, to be replaced by Jean Bolden and Barbara Saunders.
As written in the Rock & Blues News, the group released five singles for Dice, notably the double-sided hit “Because Of My Best Friend”/”To Be A Part of You”, which was in the top spot in Pittsburgh and Philly in 1959, and the New York City favorite, “Lovers’ Prayer”. The group left Dice for Guyden in 1960. This is when Barbara Saunders and Jean Bolden replaced the McCartney sisters.
The Clickettes were later taken over by Richard Barrett, lead singer of the Valentines and manager of the legendary Chantels, and it was he who produced and wrote the song, “Where Is He”, on Guyden. Although there were a fair number of Clickettes recordings released in the late ‘50’s and early ‘60’s, not all of them actually featured the girls. “Tonight And Forever”, for instance was probably actually recorded by a group called the Teen Clefs. Although such niceties rarely disturbed Dice administrator Zell Sanders.
In any event lead singer Barbara English and a number of ex-Clickettes continued to record into the early ‘60’s for labels like Roulette, Warwick and Elmor. Helen Powell of The Impacts (“Canadian Sunset” on RCA) replaced Sylvia in 196l. The group then recorded two singles for Roulette, including the local New York favorite, “We Need Them”, billed as Barbara English and the Fashions. The Fashions disbanded when Barbara went solo in 1963, and Helen joined the Chantels.
The Clickettes made their first United Group Harmony appearance in March 2000, and by the reaction of the crowd it won’t be their last. The Clickettes as of 2000 are Barbara English (original lead), Trudy McCartney-Cunningham and Sylvia Hammond-Akridge (original members). The other original, Charlotte, could not join them at the time so Lorraine Joyner of the Veneers and the Relatives was brought in later to round out the group. They entertained the audience to superb renditions of “Warm, Soft and Lovely”, “Why Oh Why”, “Grateful”, “Lovers’ Prayer”, “To Be a Part of You”and “Because of My Best Friend”.
The Clickettes only reunited at the end of 1999, but sounded like they’ve been singing together steadily for the last thirty. “They were truly remarkable and were praised by everyone”, as noted in the Rock & Blues News by Jerry Skokandich.
In 2001 the group lost one of the originals, Charlotte McCartney-Ford.
The year of 2006 found the Clickettes replacing Lorraine, with the youngest McCartney sister, Carlene Sabb. She was an easy fit, since she grew up listening to them rehearse. She also had a chance to do some rehearsing with the Teen Clefs during those years.
Barbara English and The Clickettes..."Lover's Prayer"
Barbara English and The Clickettes..."To Be A Part Of You"
Barbara English and The Clickettes on The Group Harmony Alley Radio Show
The history of the Butlers/Raw Soul is dense, but for all of us music nerds, that's normal. It is not totally clear what year the Butlers actually formed but they released their first single in 1963 on Liberty Records. That single was "She Tried To Kiss Me" and another single followed on Guyden entitled "Lovable Girl." After the Guyden single the Butlers took a break not recording another record until the single "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" was released on the Phila label in 1966. The group also backed Charles Earland and Jean Wells on one Phila single ("I Know She Loves Me").
As you might be noticing, the Butlers were doing a fair amount of recording but not achieving much success. The group's recordings sold regionally but never had the promotion to make an impact on the national scene. After the single with Phila, the Butlers moved to the Fairmount label (part of the Cameo-Parkway family) and released a handful of singles, some being reissued singles of the past. The Butlers were with Fairmount for 1966-67 and then moved to Sassy Records. Sassy released the group's greatest single (in my opinion) "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" b/w "If That's What You Wanted." A copy of that 45 sold for just under $500 last summer on eBay. Even though that isn't that much in the world of record collecting--it's still a hefty sum. The Butlers released another single on Sassy ("She's Gone" b/w "Love Is Good") that appears to be even
harder to come by then the "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" single.
The true history become a bit blurred here as the AMG biography states that the Butlers last record was released on C.R.S. in 1974 (". However, between 1971 and that single, Frankie Beverly formed a group called Raw Soul and released a number of singles. Some of the songs recorded by Beverly during this period are "While I'm Alone," "Open Up Your Heart," (both on the Gregor label) and "Color Blind." "Color Blind" was released by the Eldorado label and rerecorded by Maze. Beverly's big break came when Marvin Gaye asked Raw Soul to back him on a tour. Gaye helped Beverly/Raw Soul get a contract at Capitol. Beverly decided to take the group in a different direction, a name change occurred, and Maze was created.
The above isn't the most complete history of Beverly but hopefully someone will know a way to get in touch with the man or his management because a comprehensive pre-Maze history needs to be done on Frankie Beverly (his real name is Howard, by the way). Below you'll find every Frankie Beverly (pre-Maze) song available to me right now ("Color Blind" will be up soon).
If you have a song that is not included below, shoot it over to funkinsoulman (at) yahoo.com and it will go up in the next Frankie Beverly post (later this week--highlighting Maze). Also, if you have any more information please share your knowledge. The Butlers material has been comp-ed sporadically (usually imports) but the entire Maze catalog has been reissued and is available.
Enjoy. "She Kissed Me" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
"I Want To Feel I'm Wanted" (not sure which label or year) "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" (Phila, 1966) "Because Of My Heart" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
"Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" (Sassy, 1967)
"If That's What You Wanted" (Sassy, 1967)
Frankie Beverly is one of those cats that has lasting power. He started in the music business doing a tour with doo wop group the Silhouettes and then formed his own group called the Blenders. The Blenders never recorded a single, Beverly wouldn't appear on wax until forming the Butlers a few years later. Along with Beverly, the Butlers included Jack "Sonny" Nicholson, Joe Collins, John Fitch, and Talmadge Conway.
Beverly would later enjoy great success fronting Maze and Conway would become a
well-known penning Double Exposure's
"Ten Percent" and the Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay."
While Maze is a phenomenal group, Beverly's work before that group will always stand out as his best (imo).
The Butlers produced tunes that most Northern Soul fans would kill for and Raw Soul gave the funksters something to pursue. If, by chance, you know of a way to get in touch with Frankie Beverly or his management, please drop me an e-mail. It would be absolutely great to do an interview with him about his pre-Maze work. He's still playing out, most recently doing a New Year's Eve show in Atlanta.