Brother acts were still in vogue, The Jackson 5 setting the pace. So the emergence of Tavares was a natural.
Hailing from New Bedford, Massachusetts, Ralph (born December 10, 1941), Arthur (aka Pooch, born November 12, 1943), Antone (aka Chubby, born June 2, 1945), Feliciano, Jr. (aka Butch, born May 18, 1948), and Perry Lee (aka Tiny, born October 24, 1949), were doo-wop-trained by their oldest brother John. At the start there were six brothers in the group (first known as Chubby & The Realities), Victor Tavares rounding out the ranks.
They made their soulful debut as Chubby and The Turnpikes for Capitol in 1967; the Marvin Holtzman-produced I Know The Inside Story Vibrations lead singer Carlton Fisher was its co-writer, and it was arranged by Chicagoan Sonny Sanders. The smooth ballad Nothing But Promises, credited only to The Turnpikes, followed the next year (the group made it a practice to alternate lead vocals).
During an Italian tour, the group switched its name to Tavares because no one there knew what a turnpike was. The new moniker neatly paid tribute to their singing father Feliciano ‘Flash’ Tavares, who specialized in Cape Verdean music, as well as their own family surname. At a Chicago songwriter’s workshop headed by Jerry Butler in 1972, Tavares cut a demo of Check It Out. Their new manager Brian Panella used it to get the siblings back on Capitol, only this time they would serve up hits non-stop.
A fresh Check It Out produced by Johnny Bristol in L.A. made it to #5 R&B in 1973, followed by the Top Ten R&B entry That’s The Sound That Lonely Makes (also from their debut LP). A switch in producers to Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter preceded the release of Too Late (another Top Ten R&B hit) and their first R&B chart-topper, a cover of Hall & Oates’ She’s Gone. They were right back at #4 the next year with Remember What I Told You To Forget, scribed like Too Late by their producers.
It Only Takes A Minute, another Lambert/Potter copyright, marked the second time the siblings sat atop the R&B hit parade in September of ’75, only this time they at last crossed over to #10 pop. The brothers were immersed in the disco wave on this one, their fleet-footed choreography as slick as arranger/keyboardist Michael Omartian’s musical backing (the band included L.A. vets Dean Parks and Larry Carlton manning the guitars, bassist Wilton Felder, and drummer Ed Greene).
There were a raft of big Tavares hits on Capitol after that: Free Ride (a cover of The Edgar Winter Group’s rocker), the Freddie Perren-produced ’76 million seller Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel (Part 1), the R&B chart-topper Whodunit the next year, 1978’s Never Had A Love Like This Before, and Bad Times in ’79. Moving to RCA in 1982 seemed to precipitate their fade; they only had one Top Ten R&B entry, Deeper In Love. Ralph quit and Tiny went solo, leaving Chubby, Pooch, and Butch to uphold the Tavares name in concert.
- Bill Dahl -
Various - Sweet Soul Music 24 Scorching Classics From 1975