The Dells

Biography

The Dells are an R&B and crossover musical group. Their successful recordings spanned more than four decades. Formed in 1952 after attending high school together, the Dells' repertoire has included doo-wop, jazz, soul, disco and contemporary rhythm and blues. Unlike many of their contemporaries, the group's lineup did not change much from 1960 and consisted, until 2009, of falsetto leader Johnny Carter (died August 21, 2009), baritone lead singer Marvin Junior and background singers Mickey McGill, Verne Allison and Chuck Barksdale.

In 1956, they recorded their first hit, "Oh What a Night" (a song co-written by Johnny Funches, who also sang lead on the recording), which hit the Top 5 of the R&B singles chart. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold certification.

In 1967, the Dells issued the album, “There Is,” which included their first R&B chart-topper in years with the title track, which showcased the sharp baritone of Marvin Junior and the harmonies with the four other Dells. The song was also their first top 20 pop hit.

Subsequent R&B hits included "Wear It On Our Face", "Always Together", "I Can Sing A Rainbow/Love Is Blue", and their first #1 R&B hit and first Top Ten pop hit, 1968's "Stay in My Corner", which reached #10 on the pop chart and showcased both Carter and Marvin in lead vocals. It was not until 1969, however, that the group suddenly became R&B stars with their revival of their first hit, "Oh What a Night", re-produced under a classic soul format. The song was their second #1 hit on the R&B charts and their second Top Ten pop single while becoming a signature song. The track sold over one million copies for the second time. Subsequent hits included "Open Up My Heart", "Oh What A Day", and "On The Dock Of The Bay".

In 1971, the Dells' "The Love We Had Stays on My Mind" became another Top Ten hit on the R&B charts, also reaching the pop Top 30. 1973's "Give Your Baby a Standing Ovation" was their third certified gold record.

1980's "I Touched a Dream" returned the group to the Top 40 on the R&B charts. The Dells were confined mostly to the oldies market afterwards until they were asked to be creative consultants to Robert Townsend's acclaimed 1991 musical, “The Five Heartbeats,” which was loosely based on the lives of the Dells. The group recorded a composition titled "A Heart Is a House for Love".

The success of the song issued on the movie's soundtrack---it reached number thirteen on the R&B singles chart---gave the Dells a jolt and helped to make them just the second group to chart singles in four consecutive decades after The Isley Brothers. The success resulted in the group being signed to the Philadelphia International label where they recorded the album “I Salute You.” In recent years, the Dells have kept a constant touring schedule still occasionally releasing albums including their latest, 2003's “HOTT.” In 2004, the group was inducted to both the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

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