JAMES MADDOX

Born 31 October 1936, Chicago, Illinois This piece is not really about James Maddox, but about the El Dorados, a Chicago R&B vocal group formed in 1952 as the Five Stars. Lead singer of the group was Pirkle Lee Moses, Jr. and the other members were James Maddox (baritone and bass), Louis Bradley (tenor), Jewel Jones (second tenor and baritone) and Robert Glasper (bass). When the Five Stars became a sextet, the group name was changed to the El Dorados, named after the El Dorado Cadillac. They were signed to Vee-Jay Records in 1954, after winning a contest held by the label. Their first release ("My Lovin' Baby") came in September 1954, followed by one of many answer records to "Work With Me Annie", called "Annie's Answer", which featured the voice of Hazel McCollum. It was not until their fourth release, "At My Front Door", that the El Dorados scored a hit and a classic at that. Matt Morgan's favourite writer, Jay Warner, says in his "Billboard book of American singing groups" : "By the end of 1955 it was number 17 as a pop best seller and number one R&B, hanging on for 18 weeks". All Music Guide, copied by several other Internet sources, has translated this as "At My Front Door" topping the R&B charts for eighteen consecutive weeks, which indeed would have been a memorable achievement (only Joe Liggins's "The Honeydripper" stayed on top that long). In reality, the song was at # 1 for only one week, spending a total of 18 weeks on the Billboard R&B lists. Also known as "Crazy Little Mama", the song was covered by Pat Boone (the "Pied Piper of pasteurized pop", as Jay Warner calls him), whose version went to # 7 on the pop charts The group's only other chart record was the mid-tempo "I'll Be Forever Loving You" (# 8 R&B 1956). The group reorganized in 1958, when Pirkle Lee Moses was abandoned by the other members and recruited a new group from another Vee Jay group, the Kool Gents, whose lead, Dee Clark, had just deserted them. The new El Dorados besides Moses were Doug Brown, John McCall, and Teddy Long, but not having clicked with further releases, this group broke up in 1959. The remaining members of the El Dorados (Jones, Maddox, Bradley and new lead Marvin Smith) named themselves the Four El Dorados and recorded for Academy Records. Pirkle Lee Moses formed a new group, the Major Minors, which in 1969 once again became the El Dorados. He died in December 2000. Despite the El Dorados' meagre chart success most of their records have been cherished by doo-wop fans, who find the group not only one of the more soulful sounding of the '50s doo-wop ensembles but equally adept at both ballads (notably "I Began To Realize") and jumps (typically "Bim Bam Boom"). The group took, perhaps unconsciously, a music that most observers consider nothing more than a commercial entertainment and created a profound and genuine folk art. CD : At My Front Door ... Crazy Little Mama : The Very Best of the El Dorados. Collectables, 2000. 25 tracks. Website: http://home.att.net/~marvy42/Eldorados/eldo.html

 
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