Who was/is The Flairs ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
I Had A Love
Even sharp-eared judges of talent like the Bihari brothers, the owners of Modern Records in Los Angeles, may not have fully realized just how much young talent was packed into The Flairs. Three future stars resided in their ranks, though the looseness inherent to the L.A. vocal group scene ensured that a fair amount of unknowns would eventually roll through too.
It all began in 1952 with an outfit called The Debonaires, whose members included lead tenor Cornell Gunter, first tenor Beverly Thompson, tenor Thomas 'Pete' Fox, baritone Obie Jessie, and bass Richard Berry. All except Thompson attended Jefferson High School, located near the charismatic John Dolphin's record store, Dolphin's of Hollywood. The quintet dropped by the shop that December and landed a deal to make their debut platter, coupling a Gunter-fronted I Had A Love and the Berry showcase Tell Me You Love Me, for Dolphin's Recorded in Hollywood label. John released the single the next month, calling them The Hollywood Blue Jays.
When that effort sank without trace, the group tried their luck with better-established Modern in the summer of 1953. A&R man Joe Bihari, youngest of the brothers, convinced the group to rename themselves after the imprint they'd be cutting for, Flair Records. First up that July was a more professional redo of the breathtaking ballad I Had A Love, penned by Jessie and led by Gunter (Berry led the rowdy B-side, She Wants To Rock). 'Billboard' chose both sides as a 'Buy o' the Week' in early September, but the single didn't break nationally.
The Flairs issued a half-dozen followups on Flair stretching into 1955, but the in-demand Berry left to pursue other opportunities, including writing and cutting the original Louie Louie in 1957 for the Flip label. Young Jessie, as he was known by then, had his own '55 West Coast hit for Modern with Mary Lou, and Fox joined The Cadets (aka The Jacks), leaving Gunter the only original Flair when Buck Ram took over their managerial reins and got them a deal in 1956 with ABC-Paramount. The Flairs were still in business under Ram's supervision when Cornell left in '57. He'd join The Coasters the next year, participating on most of their big sellers.
Various - Street Corner Symphonies Vol.05, 1953 The Complete Story Of Doo Wop
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