Friday, January 31, 2014

January 31: Marvin Junior, baritone with The Dells for 58 years - “Oh What a Night” – was born on this date in 1936….

(Marvin Junior, with microphone)

Marvin Junior, the robust baritone for the Dells, a Chicago doo-wop and rhythm-and-blues group that was formed when he and most of its other members were in high school in the early 1950s, died on June 5, 2013 at his home in Harvey, Ill from kidney and heart problems. He was 77-years-old when he passed away.

Marvin Junior was born on Jan. 31, 1936, in Harold, Ark. His family moved to Illinois when he was a boy. He grew up hoping to be the next Ray Charles. Instead, in 1952 he teamed up with friends from Thornton Township High School in Harvey to sing under an overpass in the Chicago suburb because "It had good acoustics." Then known as The El-Rays they released their first recording in 1954.

In 1955, the group renamed themselves the Dells and signed with Vee-Jay Records. Soon after, they had their first R&B hit with "Oh What a Night." The Dells performed together for 57 years, and recorded 27 albums. The group had minimal personnel changes. The group had five members: a trio of harmony singers (Verne Allison, Mickey McGill and Chuck Barksdale for a vast majority of the group's existence) and the baritone-falsetto counterpoint of Junior and Johnny Carter, a former member of the Flamingos, who replaced Funches in 1960.

Junior co- wrote the Dells' first hit, "Oh What a Nite." Originally released in 1956, it was rerecorded with a new arrangement in 1969 and released as "Oh, What a Night." Other hits follow; including "Stay in My Corner," which was originally released in 1965 and also rerecorded and released again in 1969. The reworked versions of both songs went to No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and reached the Top 10 on the pop chart.

Among the group’s other hits were "I Touched a Dream," "Give Your Baby a Standing Ovation" and "The Love We Had (Stays on My Mind)." The Dells served as consultants, and an inspiration, for The Five Heartbeats, Robert Townsend's 1991 film about a fictitious singing group. Townsend spent time touring with the Dells while doing research for the film.
"A Heart Is a House for Love,'' which the Dells recorded for the film's soundtrack, reached the Top 100.

The Dells were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Carter died in 2009, and the Dells have not performed since then.
For more about The Dells, visit their Website at –


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