Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Jan. 15: Edward "Sonny" Bivins of The Manhattans - "Shining Star" - is 72-years-old today.

The Manhattans are a popular R&B vocal group with a string of hit records spanning four decades, their best-known million-selling songs being "Kiss and Say Goodbye" and "Shining Star" in 1976 and 1980, respectively.
The Manhattans, originally from Jersey City, New Jersey, formed in 1962 with members Edward "Sonny" Bivins - born in Macon, Georgia - George "Smitty" Smith, Winfred "Blue" Lovett, Kenny "Wally" Kelley and Richard "Ricky" Taylor. All five enlisted in the armed forces and came together as a group following their discharges from their respective branches.

The group's first single was "For the Very First Time," released in 1964 by Carnival Records. They continued recording with great success with songs written by various members of the group. In 1968, the group received the "Most Promising Group" award by NATRA.

In 1969, the group moved to the De Luxe record label of King Records. In 1970 George Smith fell down a flight of stairs and later took ill. Unable to perform, the group began to search for a new lead. Gerald Alston accepted and took over the lead spot. George Smith died of a brain tumor December 16, 1970.

The Manhattans continued recording throughout the 1970s with Alston singing lead vocals. They struck chart gold in 1976 with "Kiss and Say Goodbye," written by Blue Lovett. Featuring an impassioned vocal by Alston and a memorable opening rap by Lovett, the song quickly became a #1 chart topper on both the Billboard Pop and R&B charts. It also became only the second single ever to go platinum.

Taylor left in 1976 to concentrate on his conversion to Islam (but died in 1987 after a long illness). The group continued as a quartet and found further success in March of 1980 with the release of "Shining Star," which reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and #4 on the R&B Chart. Produced and co-written by established Chicago producer Leo Graham, it received a Grammy award the following spring.

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The ManhattansThe Manhattans - Greatest Hits [Sony Special Products]

The group celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1985 with the release of Too Hot To Stop It. It included the Bivins/Smith-penned "We Were Made As One," originally recorded in 1966 but covered in an a cappella, doo wop style to emphasize the group's doo-wop roots. The album was also dedicated to George Smith.

The Manhattans continue to tour and record. The current line-up of the group is Sonny Bivins, Lee Williams, Alvin Pazant, Harsey Hemphill, and Charles Hardy. They released the CD Manhattans Now in 1994, and in recent years the group has been featured in the play, Girl, He Ain't Worth It.

For more about Sonny Bivens and The Manhattans, visit their Website at -






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