Friday, May 31, 2013


It is a sad loss in music this week as Clarence Burke Jr., the lead vocalist of The Five Stairsteps and Marvin Junior, the singer of The Dells passed away this week.

Burke Jr., who died the day after his 64th birthday on May 26th, was the voice behind his group's biggest hit, "O-o-h Child" which went to number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1970. The Five Stairsteps was formed in Chicago in 1965 and made up of Burke's three brothers (James, Dennis and Keni) and sister (Alohe)who were all teenagers at the time. They were given the group's name by their mother as her children's descending heights reminded her of stairs After winning a talent contest, they met Curtis Mayfield of The Impressions and The Five Stairsteps were signed to his record label. The group first hit the r&b chart with "You Waited Too Long" that reached number sixteen in 1966. Other recordings followed and The Five Stairsteps became a popular live act. Although "O-o-h Child" would go on to sell well over a million copies, the group was never able to duplicate that huge success and disbanded in 1976.

"O-o-h Child" - The Five Stairsteps (1970)

Marvin Junior who was a founding member and lead vocalist of The Dells passed away on May 29th. Junior, Verne Allison, Johnny Funches Chuck Barksdale and Mickey and Lucius McGill were high school buddies who began singing together as a doo-wop act called The El-Rays in 1952. By 1955, they renamed themselves The Dells and were signed to Vee-Jay Records. They had their first charting song with "Oh What A Night" in 1956 which reached number five on the r&b chart and sold a million copies. After a tragic car accident that left McGill severely injured in 1958, The Dells decided to temporarily disband to allow him to time recover. By 1961, The Dells were back together and more hits followed with such songs as "Always Together", "Stay In My Corner" and a re-recorded version of "Oh What A Night" in 1969 that this time went straight to the top of the r&b chart and sold another million copies.

"Always Together" - The Dells (1968)


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