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Soul Brothers Six

Some Kind Of Wonderful

Soul Brothers Six

Some Kind Of Wonderful


The life-affirming Some Kind Of Wonderful underscores the sanctified upbringing of John Ellison, lead singer of The Soul Brothers Six. Born August 11, 1941 in tiny Montgomery, West Virginia, Ellison grew up poor amidst the rural coal fields. He got serious about music at age 13 on his brother's guitar. "One day I saw Chuck Berry on TV," he says. "He was my inspiration. After seeing him, that was all I wanted to do."


In 1959, Ellison moved to Rochester, New York, forming the three-piece Continentals with guitarist Joe Beard. "We played together for a few years. I didn't see it going anywhere, so I started playing with another group," says John. "We were called Satans Four. It was two blacks and two whites. And that lasted for maybe a year, year-and-a-half."  Their drummer Sam Armstrong was also in another self-contained band. "The Soul Brothers Six was originally called the Brothers Four, which was Sam and his three brothers. Sam told them about me, so I joined the group," he says. "There was myself playing guitar, then there was a brother named Moses Armstrong, he was a guitar player. Sam Armstrong on drums, Charles Armstrong, he played tambourine and conga drums. Von Elle Benjamin was the bass player. And Lester Peleman, he played tambourine, and he was also a singer."

With Ellison aboard, the Six cut a '65 single, I Don't Want To Cry, for the Rochester-based Fine logo. Walter Rayfield, who ran the Philly-based Lyndell label, became a fan. "He drove a mail truck, he delivered mail from Philadelphia to Rochester," says John. "He would always come to the club where we played, and he was very interested in us. He said he'd like to sign us up, because he really loved the sound we had." Ellison wrote both sides of their Lyndell 45 before authoring Some Kind Of Wonderful.

"I was dating this girl, and I just used a phrase-–I said, 'You know, you're some kind of wonderful!' And I told her, 'I'm gonna write a song about you," says Ellison. "In the car, between Rochester and Philadelphia, I wrote the song."  Philly deejay Ernie Fields stopped by a rehearsal. "He heard this song 'Some Kind Of Wonderful.' And he said, 'Man, that's a great song! Whose song is that?' I said, 'It's mine. I just wrote it.' He said, 'Well, we ought to record this. It's a hit!' So they took us in the studio the very next day." WHAT program director George Wilson brought the masters to Atlantic.

Some Kind Of Wonderful sounded so unabashedly sanctified that it only managed a #91 pop showing and inexplicably didn't crease the R&B hit parade at all. But The Fantastic Johnny C cut a sizzling cover on his '68 'Boogaloo Down Broadway' LP, and Grand Funk's thundering '74 remake was a #3 pop juggernaut. None of the Six's four Atlantic follow-ups hit, and the original lineup disbanded. Ellison put together a new Soul Brothers Six and made five early '70s singles for Phil-L.A. of Soul, some under his own name. In 1972, he relocated to Canada and continues to perform and record.


- Bill Dahl -

Various - Sweet Soul Music

Various - Sweet Soul Music 30 Scorching Classics From 1967

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SOUL BROTHERS SIX: Funky Funky Way Of Makin' Love
Art-Nr.: CDJAMIE4013

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(2001/JAMIE) 18 tracks 1970-74 Stereo

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