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The Sheppards

Glitter In Your Eyes

Producer Bill 'Bunky' Sheppard believed so strongly in The Sheppards that he named the group after himself. He'd engineered a merger of two Chicago groups, The Bel Aires and The Ballads, creating a lineup boasting two striking lead singers (tenor Murrie Eskridge and deeper-voiced Mill Edwards) alongside tenors James Isaac and O.C. Perkins, baritone Jimmy Allen, and teenaged guitarist Kermit Chandler. Bunky had monikered a previous Sheppards group after himself that cut mid-'50s singles for Theron and United, but only Isaac was involved.

The considerably longer-lasting second Sheppards debuted on Dempsey Nelson's Apex Records (Bunky was the label's secretary) with the gorgeous ballad Island Of Love, which is on our 1959 disc. Five more Apex releases by the group ensued in rapid succession. Bunky eventually went his own way, establishing offices with Carl Davis on Chicago's West Side. They believed in giving their little labels personal names. "Pam is my first child. Her name is Pamela," explained the lateDavis. "So I had Pam Productions, and Bunky had Wes: William E. Sheppard. Then we had Nat, which was our bookkeeper Nathaniel. So we had the three labels."

They placed The Sheppards on Wes, Bunky helming their remarkably atmospheric ballad Glitter In Your Eyes. Penned by Perkins and guitarist Chandler (reportedly all of 13 when he originally joined the group), the track opens with Kermit's axe leaking eerie vibrato over dramatic cymbal strokes before Murrie jumps in with a supercharged lead on a real spine-chiller (Edwards deftly fronted the flip, the mid-tempo Every Now And Then). Vee-Jay picked up Glitter In Your Eyes in December of 1961 for national consumption, but it failed to chart.

The Sheppards never did score a hit record, but it wasn't for lack of effort as they transitioned into the soul era. More 45s for Vee-Jay and its Abner subsidiary and Columbia's OKeh logo preceded Edwards' exit to mount a short-lived solo career (he had a '66 platter on Constellation, another of Bunky's labels, as Mill Evans) before joining The Esquires as bass and intoning the recurring title phrase on their '67 smash Get On Up for Sheppard's Bunky imprint. The Sheppards made more sides for ABC-Paramount, Mirwood, Sharp, and Bunky. At new decade's dawn, The Sheppards called it a day. Chandler died February 22, 1981 at age 37.

Various Street Corner Symphonies 1961 Vol.13

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