Saturday, July 13, 2013

July 13: Jay Bird Uzzell, lead vocalist for The Corsairs - "Smoky Places” - is 71-years-old today.

The Corsairs were an American doo wop ensemble from La Grange, North Carolina. The group consisted of the three Uzell brothers and their cousin, George Wooten. Their songs had a standard mid-tempo pop feel, yet with an edge provided by Jay Bird Uzzell’s wailing lead, burbling bass and strong chorusing.

At first they performed as The Gleems, and toured the East Coast. After the relocated from North Carolina to New Jersey in 1961 to be nearer to the New York recording business, independent producer Abner Spector heard them in a New Jersey club and signed on as their manager. Changing their name in 1961 to The Corsairs, they released their first single, "Time Waits" b/w "It Won't Be a Sin" on Smash Records.

Switching to Tuff Records, they released "Smoky Places,” which became a nationwide hit after being picked up for national distribution by Chess Records, hitting #10 R&B and #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962.

The follow-up, "I'll Take You Home,” peaked at #62, and they continued releasing singles until 1964, none of which managed to hit the charts.

"Smoky Places" was used in the 1994 movie, There Goes My Baby, and in the 2006 Sopranos episode "Mayham."


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