This five-member vocal group consisted of two sets of identical twins (Alfred and Alvin Pelham, Keith and Kirk Gardner), and the "plus one," (Ricky Spicer).
They grew up and received their education on the north side of Cleveland, Ohio; all attended Patrick Henry Jr. High where they formed the group. Tony Wilson, who became their road manager, discovered the lads and brought them to the attention of Bobby Massey (at the time a member of the O'Jays). Massey was producing records for Chuck Brown's Saru label. Realizing their potential, he quickly sold Brown on them, who signed them to his Astroscope label in 1970.
Massey rushed the youngsters, all in their early teens, to the studios and cut six exciting sides. Massey shopped the sides to Sylvia Robinson, owner of All Platinum Records (later Sugar Hill). Previously, Robinson recorded with Mickey Baker as Mickey & Sylvia scoring big with "Love Is Strange"; she entered the top ten again with "Pillow Talk" on All Platinum. Robinson loved them and agreed to distribute the sides nationally. The first release, "You Send Me," would turn out to be the group's best-selling single.
Its success enabled the guys to tour with the All Platinum/Stang record gang, up and down the East Coast and parts of the Midwest. The shows consisted of the Moments, the Whatnauts, Linda Jones, Lonnie Youngblood, and others. According to Ricky Spicer, the late Harry Ray (Moments, Ray, Goodman & Brown) was like a big brother to him on the tours. An album, 2 + 2 + 1 = Ponderosa Twins Plus One, was released. The six sides produced in Cleveland were augmented by six sides produced by Michael Burton, a writer and producer for All Platinum records. Their second release, "I Remember You" backed with "Bound," was a two-sided hit. Both sides did well, almost equaling their previous success.
The guys' schedule consisted of traveling, recording, and rehearsing. School became secondary; they thought they would be the next Jackson 5. And with good reason: they had an exciting stage act, were mature beyond their years, and knew how to use sex to sell their songs despite their youth. "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" (the Frankie Lymon tune) became their third and shortest release; the recording, produced by longtime Parliament/Funkadelic member Calvin Simon, was barely two minutes long.
A couple more releases and the group's career was over. Dismayed by the lack of royalties and money from their live shows, the guys felt used and became totally disillusioned with the music business. And by 1975 it was all over. Life after music hasn't been smooth sailing for some of the members either. One of the Pelham twins experienced mental problems; one of the Gardner twins has been incarcerated in an Ohio penitentiary since 1980 for committing a variety of offenses; and Ricky Spicer, the smallest member, the squeaky-voiced lead, does construction work in the greater Cleveland area.
P-Vine Records in Japan reissued the 2 + 2 + 1 = Ponderosa Twins Plus One compilation on vinyl. A couple of the group's cuts can be found on a compilation CD with other All Platinum/Stang record artists. As a bonus, P-Vine included the twins' third release and its flip "You Got to Take the Bitter With the Sweet" on the reissue. It can be ordered through some Internet sites. An original copy of the album sells for more than 50 dollars. ~ Andrew Hamilton, All Music Guide
THE PONDEROSA TWINS PLUS ONE...WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE
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.