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​(1998/Regency) 30 songs more

The Lamplighters: Bo Peep

​(1998/Regency) 30 songs

Article properties: The Lamplighters: Bo Peep

Lamplighters, The - Bo Peep CD 1
01 Bo Peep (45 version) The Lamplighters
02 Everything's Allright The Lamplighters
03 Five Minutes Longer The Lamplighters
04 It Ain't Right The Lamplighters
05 Goody, Goody, Good Things The Lamplighters
06 No Other One (unreleased) The Lamplighters
07 The Kissing Bug The Lamplighters
08 Watussi Wussi Wu The Lamplighters
09 My Confession The Lamplighters
10 Save Me Some Kisses The Lamplighters
11 Those Golden Bells The Lamplighters
12 I'm Your, Anyhow The Lamplighters
13 Sindy The Lamplighters
14 Lavern (unreleased) The Lamplighters
15 Sugar Ways The Lamplighters
16 Come On The Lamplighters
17 Sweet Sweetheart The Lamplighters
18 Our Love Is Here To Stay The Lamplighters
19 Lock My Heart The Lamplighters
20 What Will I Gain The Lamplighters
21 Shufflin' The Lamplighters
22 Six Mounths, Three Weeks, Two Day, One Hour The Lamplighters
23 Look What You've Done To Me The Lamplighters
24 All My Love The Lamplighters
25 Tapun, Tapun (unreleased) The Lamplighters
26 Have Love, Will Travel The Lamplighters
27 Gig-A-Lene The Lamplighters
28 Here's A Heart The Lamplighters
29 Bobby, My Love The Lamplighters
30 Sunshine The Lamplighters
The Lamplighters I Used To Cry Mercy, Mercy There wasn't anything overly polished about... more
"The Lamplighters"

The Lamplighters

I Used To Cry Mercy, Mercy

There wasn't anything overly polished about The Lamplighters. The L.A. quartet did their share of ballads, but rockers were their forte.

Like so many Los Angeles R&B tales, their saga began at the Barrelhouse, the Watts nightspot operated by Johnny Otis and Bardu Ali. Tenors Leon Hughes and Willie Ray Rockwell had put in time with The Hollywood Four Flames before teaming with bass Matthew Nelson to form a trio in 1951. They lost a Barrelhouse talent contest to tenor Thurston Harris, born July 11, 1930 (or 1931) in Indianapolis, Indiana, who brought the house down singing The '5' Royales' Help Me Somebody. Instead of licking their wounds, they brought ex-gospel singer Harris into the fold and started gigging as a quartet.

Hughes had been supplanted by Al Frazier prior to the group signing a pact with Federal Records. A&R man Ralph Bass brought them into Hollywood's Radio Recorders in the summer of '53 to cut their debut single, Turn Me Loose. Someone at Federal's parent label, King Records, named the group The Lamplighters.  Lead tenor Harris often displayed a Clyde McPhatter influence on their lengthy string of Federal releases, though Rockwell wrote and fronted their encore Be-Bop Wino.

Thurston sang lead on Smootchie as well as their fourth Federal outing in March of '54, the rollicking I Used To Cry Mercy, Mercy, written by the prolific Rudolph Toombs (his name appears throughout this series). The hard-charging jump had strong gospel overtones, Harris belting with intensity before a moaning sax jumps in for a bluesy ride. The group's labelmates, The Midnighters, worked this stylistic side of the street too, and they got a lot more attention. The quartet did a fine ballad on the B-side, Tell Me You Care, that Harris penned.

The Lamplighters made more solid jumps - Ride Jockey Ride, Five Minutes Longer, Goody Good Things, I Wanna Know, Love, Rock And Thrill - that brought them into 1955, though personnel changes removed Rockwell and Nelson. Harris quit for a time too. Frazier put together a new lineup and cut for Federal as The Tenderfoots. Thurston returned and The Lamplighters were revived to cut Don't Make It So Good, a frantic Bo Peep, and Everything's All Right before Harris split for good in 1956. Frazier and two replacement Lamplighters, Carl White and John 'Sonny' Harris, added bass Rocky Wilson, Jr. and formed The Sharps, who did the yelps on a lot of Duane Eddy hits when they weren't cutting sides themselves for Jamie, Chess and Combo. They later morphed into The Rivingtons.

Thurston got off to a grand start as a solo act at Aladdin Records, covering Bobby Day and The Satellites' Little Bitty Pretty One and greatly outselling the original in late '57 (The Sharps backed him). Harris scored '58 hits with the rocking Do What You Did and another bouncy Day cover, Over And Over. He died of a heart attack on April 14, 1990. 

- Bill Dahl -

Various Vol.6, Street Corner Symphonies 1954

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