Who was/is The Regals ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

The Regals

Got The Water Boiling

Modern harmony was at the root of The Regals' approach. That stemmed from their love for jazz. There were myriad personnel changes along the way, but three members were there in 1950 at the beginning in Cleveland: tenor/baritones Jerry Holeman and Aaron 'Tex' Cornelius and baritone/bass Albert 'Diz' Russell, who played a little trumpet and wore a beret like Dizzy Gillespie. They were soon joined by tenor William Jarvis.

They were known as The Modern Sounds before Willa Mae Parks replaced Jarvis and the group changed its billing to Four Kings and a Queen (falsetto/baritone Rex Middleton was the other King). They tore up the St. Louis jazz circuit and made an unissued October 1952 session for Chicago's United logo. Middleton and Parks left the next year, tenor Jimmy Brunsen joined, and the group moved to New York, billed as The Four Jays. Apollo Theatre boss Bobby Schiffman took over their management. Brunsen was replaced by Billy 'Junior' Adams, and Schiffman introduced them to pianist Paul Griffin. They renamed themselves again, this time after the Regal Shoe Store on 125th Street, the same thoroughfare that hosted the Apollo.

The Regals made their debut single on Aladdin in 1954, twinning Run Pretty Baby and May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You. Schiffman brought The Regals tenor Harold 'Sonny' Wright, but recording with The Diamonds must have soured him on Atlantic: Wright refused to enter the studio with The Regals when they cut four

Songs at Atlantic's 234 W. 56th Street offices on February 14, 1955 with Jesse Stone at the A&R helm.  Russell fronted the rocking Got The Water Boiling, which he'd written with Cornelius; Adams grabbed the spotlight on the flip, I'm So Lonely. The single didn't chart, and the other two tunes The Regals did were vaulted. But The Cadillacs were listening. Their '55 hit Speedo was partially modeled on Got The Water Boiling. Down in Memphis, Billy Riley revived Got The Water Boiling for Sun.

Even before The Cadillacs hired him to hone their choreography, famous hoofer Cholly Atkins worked with The Regals on their fancy footwork. Orioles lead tenor Sonny Til must have been impressed when he saw The Regals play the Apollo; he asked them to be his new Orioles. All but Wright accepted the offer, their modern harmony approach changing The Orioles' sound. The new lineup graced the Orioles' last Jubilee session in October of '55 and their three 1956-57 singles for Chicago's Vee-Jay imprint. By the dawn of the '60s, with Til's profile at low ebb, it was over.

- Bill Dahl -

Various Vol.7, Street Corner Symphonies 1955

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