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Tyrone Davis

Born in Greenville, Mississippi, on May 4, 1938, Tyrone Davis left his hometown at age fourteen. Eager to leave the Jim Crow South, he enlisted the help of his father, who sent him a bus ticket to Michigan. By age nineteen, Davis had settled in Chicago, where he became immersed in the city's flourishing blues scene. He was inspired by the music of blues greats Bobby "Blue" Bland and Little Milton. He visited blues clubs regularly and eventually befriended rhythm & blues legends Freddie King, Otis Rush and Mighty Joe Young. These musicians spotted Davis' talent and persuaded him to audition at local clubs. Throughout the 1950s, he performed in the small clubs that dotted the South Side of Chicago.

In the late 1960s, Davis began recording original blues tracks for the Four Brothers label. These early recordings received little notice until a disc jockey at a Texas radio station played the B-side of one of his singles on the air. "Can I Change My Mind?" catapulted Davis into the ranks of the Billboard charts, where it crossed over from the R& B charts to the pop charts. The song eventually sold more than 1 million copies and thrust Davis firmly into the limelight.

Since that first success, Davis has enjoyed a long and successful career as a musician. His phenomenal body of recordings includes more than fifty hit songs. These include "Turn Back the Hands of Time," "Turning Point" and the 1970s disco hit "Give It Up (Turn It Loose)." In 1976, Davis left Dakar Records, where he had recorded since "Can I Change My Mind?" and joined industry behemoth Columbia Records. While with Columbia, Davis made some of his most inspired recordings, which include ballads such as "In the Mood," "Close to You" and "Heart Failure." Some of his major albums have been Without You In My Life and It's All In The Game.

Davis has performed for thirty years and remains a vital force on the recording and touring circuit. His backup group, the Platinum Band, is among Chicago's most-respected ensembles. Together they scored yet another hit in 1991 with the song "Mom's Apple Pie."

A Billboard survey taken in the late 1980s placed Davis thirtieth on the All-Time Top R& B Charts. In 1998, Tyrone Davis was awarded the R& B Foundation's prestigious Pioneer Award for his lifetime of work.

Accession Number

A2000.018

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

6/15/2000

Last Name

Davis

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Tyrone

Birth City, State, Country

Greenville

HM ID

DAV02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

God bless you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/4/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pork

Death Date

2/9/2005

Short Description

R & B singer Tyrone Davis (1938 - 2005 ) was a musician based out of Chicago. His initial success came with the song "Can I Change My Mind?" in 1968 and Davis continued to top the charts for the next few decades. A Billboard survey taken in the late 1980s placed Tyrone Davis as number 30 on the All-Time Top R&B Charts. Davis passed away on February 9, 2005.

Employment

Four Brothers Records

Barney's Record Shop

Favorite Color

Black

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Tyrone Davis interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Tyrone Davis discusses being a valet for Freddie King

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Tyrone Davis leaves Greenville, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Tyrone Davis moves to Saginaw, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Tyrone Davis visits family in Greenville, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Tyrone Davis moves to Chicago, Illinois to sing

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Tyrone Davis discusses Barney's Records and Harold Burrage

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Tyrone Davis discusses his mentor's death

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Tyrone Davis discusses the death of his mentor

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Tyrone Davis records with Monk Higgins

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Tyrone Davis meets his manager, Wally Roker

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Tyrone Davis records "Baby, Can I Change My Mind?"

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Tyrone Davis receives encouragement from mother and Brunswick Records

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Tyrone Davis discusses first meeting with Brunswick Records

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Tyrone Davis discusses his treatment by Brunswick Records

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Tyrone Davis records "A Woman Needs to Be Loved"

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Tyrone Davis discusses recording without a contract

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Tyrone Davis discusses his recording contract

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Tyrone Davis remembers his first tour

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Tyrone Davis records 'You Can't Keep a Good Man Down' and 'Turn Back the Hands of Time'

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Tyrone Davis discusses his favorite song and radio stations

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Tyrone Davis describes radio stations as unfair

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Tyrone Davis discusses self-publishing

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Tyrone Davis discusses his admiration for Luther Vandross

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Tyrone Davis discusses influential songwriters

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Tyrone Davis decribes his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Tyrone Davis reflects on his life

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Tyrone Davis's favorites

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Photo -- Tyrone Davis Headshot for Malaco Records

Chuck Barksdale

Born on January 11, 1935 in Chicago, Chuck Barksdale is one of the original members of the R&B group the Dells. The Dells (originally known as the El-Rays) were formed in 1952 at Thornton High School in Harvey, Illinois, while the five members (Marvin Junior, Johnny Funches, Verne Allison, Michael McGill and Barksdale) were students.

The group's first hit came in 1956 with "Oh What a Night" which they also famously performed at the Apollo Theater in New York. Although the Dells were a doo-wop group they had continued success all the way through the 1990s. Between 1956 and 1992, the Dells chocked up a total of 46 hits on the Billboard and R&B singles charts, including such classics as "Oh, What a Night", "Stay In My Corner", "Always Together", and "Give Your Baby a Standing Ovation." After the success of "Oh What a Night", the Dells performed for two years as the opening act for Dinah Washington. The group also sang back up on Washington's record "Tears and Laughter." Next, the Dells joined Ray Charles and toured as his opening act.

The Dells also experienced their share of set backs. A tragic car accident in 1958 nearly broke the group up. Michael McGill was seriously injured and Johnny Funches never returned to the group. They reunited in 1960 with Johnny Carter taking over the role of lead singer. During the group's hiatus, Barksdale briefly sang with the Moonglows, a group that also included the late Marvin Gaye. Barksdale returned to the group later in the 1960's and has performed with the group for over fifty years. Much of the recent interest in the group can be attributed to Robert Townsend's 1991 film "The 5 Heartbeats" which is based on the music and the lives of the Dells. The group was inducted to both the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and they still perform to this day.

Accession Number

A2000.004

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

11/9/2000

Last Name

Barksdale

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Thornton Township High School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Archival Photo 2
Speakers Bureau Availability

Days

First Name

Chuck

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

BAR01

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - Negotiable

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Aruba

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/11/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish, Salad, Potatoes, Rolls

Short Description

R & B singer Chuck Barksdale (1935 - ) was an original member of the R & B group, the Dells, who had forty-six Billboard hits including 1956's "Oh What a Night."

Favorite Color

Blue, Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Chuck Barksdale interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Chuck Barksdale's favorite things

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Chuck Barksdale briefly describes his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Chuck Barksdale briefly describes his children

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Chuck Barksdale is grateful for the support of his father and mother as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Chuck Barksdale talks about his mother's musical talents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Chuck Barksdale describes his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Chuck Barksdale describes his father's personality and background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Chuck Barksdale describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Chuck Barksdale describes being involved in a racial profiling incident

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Chuck Barksdale talks about his childhood aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Chuck Barksdale talks about growing up in the Chicago area

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Chuck Barksdale talks about starting his R&B group, the Dells

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Chuck Barksdale explains his poor experience in high school

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Chuck Barksdale talks about his mentors in the music business

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Chuck Barksdale explains the origin of the Dells's name

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Chuck Barksdale talks about the unexpected longevity of the Dells

Tape: 1 Story: 18 - Chuck Barksdale talks about the Dells's first record contract

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Chuck Barksdale talks about how his mother inspired him

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Chuck Barksdale talks about the Dells's musical influences

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Chuck Barksdale discusses the Dells's most popular song

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Chuck Barksdale explains the shoddy management of Vee-Jay Records

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Chuck Barksdale explains the inspiration behind the Dells's most popular single

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Chuck Barksdale describes the Dells's experience with Vee-Jay Records

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Chuck Barksdale discusses the success of Motown Records

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Chuck Barksdale explains how the Dells persevered through an auto accident

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Chuck Barksdale talks about the Dells's musical versatility

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Chuck Barksdale talks about learning from Dinah Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Chuck Barksdale explains how the Dells have stayed togther through bad times

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Chuck Barksdale talks about competition with other R&B groups

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Chuck Barksdale briefly describes the talents of Johnny Carter

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Chuck Barksdale explains how the Dells coped with success

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Chuck Barksdale talks about temporarily leaving the Dells

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Chuck Barksdale discusses individual members of the Dells

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Chuck Barksdale describes the Dells's professional relationship

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Chuck Barksdale talks about the Dells's cohesion

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Chuck Barksdale talks about the origins of the movie about the Dells

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Chuck Barksdale discusses the success of the Dells's movie 'The Five Heartbeats'

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Chuck Barksdale discusses the negative aspects of 'The Five Heartbeats'

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Chuck Barksdale discusses the lasting success of the Dells's movie 'The Five Heartbeats'

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Chuck Barksdale discusses his feelings about Robert Townsend, director of 'The Five Heartbeats'

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Chuck Barksdale talks about his favorite performance with the Dells

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Chuck Barksdale describes some of the Dells's worst performances

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Chuck Barksdale briefly describes his relationship with Patti LaBelle

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Chuck Barksdale talks about the first songs recorded by the Dells

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Chuck Barksdale talks about the Dells's recording career at Vee-Jay Records

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Chuck Barksdale lists some of the songs the Dells recorded at Vee-Jay Records

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Chuck Barksdale talks about moving from Vee-Jay Records to Chess Records

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Chuck Barksdale talks about the Dells's success at Chess Records

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Chuck Barksdale discusses the legal and financial matters of the music industry

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Chuck Barksdale thanks the Dells's many fans

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Chuck Barksdale gives his advice for young people

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Chuck Barksdale talks about the importance of oral history

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Chuck Barksdale gives advice for aspiring musicians and entertainers

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Chuck Barksdale talks about how the Dells learned harmony from Kirk Stewart

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Chuck Barksdale talks about more of the Dells's mentors

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Chuck Barksdale sings for the camera

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Photo - The Dells dress up as sailors for an album cover [1994]

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Photo - Chuck Barksdale with the Dells [1994]

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Photo - Chuck Barksdale with the Dells [1996]

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Photo - Chuck Barksdale and the Dells pose for an album cover [2000]

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$2

DAStory

13$5

DATitle
Chuck Barksdale talks about starting his R&B group, the Dells
Chuck Barksdale explains the inspiration behind the Dells's most popular single
Transcript
But for the most part, the part as far as the Dells [Barksdale's R&B group] were concerned, we got together. I must have been nineteen years old at this time. I had just come out of the service. I had been in the [U.S.] Air Force and had come home and didn't have the slightest idea what I was going to do next. It's like the light bulb that goes off in the head. The light bulb went off--bingo. Here I go talking about it. I meet this guy named Michael McGill [singer] who happened to be still going to high school, and how we met--excuse me, can we go back again? But how we met, how Mickey, Michael McGill and I met is something I cannot really remember, exactly when and how we met, but the point is, is that his mother, God rest her soul, was a devout Jehovah's Witness, and she would not allow Mickey to have secular music in the home. But they had a woodshed, and if you knew anything about show business, you know that when you go into the woodshed, you go in there to practice. Unbeknownst to us, that's just what we were doing. Mickey had a record player in the woodshed, and he said "well, listen, you like vocal groups?" I said "yeah." We went into his woodshed, and he had all these records by the Ravens [R&B group], by the Clovers [R&B group], by the Five Keys [R&B group], by the Moonglows [R&B group], and whatever, and we would sit down and listen to these records and said "man, we got to get us a vocal group, man." I said, "Hey, you know anybody that can sing?" He says "I know a couple of guys, but I don't know if they can sing with us. See if they--just try them out. We got one guy named Marvin Junior, another guy named Verne, but he's a basketball player, and he's playing for the Thornton [Township High School, Harvey, Illinois] basketball team, and I don't know if he wants to sing or not," and so forth and so on. The next thing we know, we got a vocal group--couldn't sing a lick. When we met this disc jockey in Harvey, Illinois, we went over to the radio station [WBEE, Harvey, Illinois radio station] and asked him if he would play our record for us.$$You can name the disc jockey.$$And the disc jockey at that particular time happened to be Herbert Rogers Kent [Herb Kent, disc jockey, interviewer]. The year was 1903. No, no, no, no, (laughter) no, no. The year was 1953, and Herb gave us a lot of love. He gave us a lot of inspiration. At the same time he had lost his dog. He had a collie that had gotten away from him. I don't what his dog was. Anyway, we found the dog out in the field, and we brought the dog to Herb, and I think from that point on Herb and the Dells became very, very close. Moving on to what happened with the Dells, I think that the history speaks for itself.$'Oh, What A Night'--bookmark record. The original one, how did that get started?$$1955, late, at one point we [the Dells, Barksdale's R&B group] were in the midst of rehearsing. There were some young ladies that used to come by our rehearsals. And you know, when young ladies come around young men, you always have to show off a little bit, so forth and so on. But so the young ladies decided--one of them had gotten permission from their mother to invite the Dells over to their home for a dinner. Well, we went over, and we hung out with them that night, that evening. And the next day at rehearsal, we were talking and Marvin [Junior, singer] said to Johnny Funches [singer], who was one of the original writers and also one of the original Dells. He asked him, he said, he was just talking. He said "man, did we have a good time last night?" He said "oh, man, what a beautiful night," so and so and so and so. He said "man, oh, what a night." I said "hold it. There's a song in there somewhere." Well, I was like over there doing something, doodling on the piano, whatever, but the point is that Marvin and Johnny started writing 'Oh, What A Night.' And it happened because of a night prior to this, and I think it was just, it was just, you know how something is just supposed to happen? I just believe this with all my heart and soul. 'Oh, What A Night' has been like a term for the Dells. We can cut 'Stay in My Corner,' 'Give Your Baby a Standing Ovation,' 'A Heart Is a House For Love,' we could do all of them. The keynote, the song that everybody waits for is 'Oh, What A Night.'$$How many copies have you sold?$$That's a very good question. The first time out, 'Oh, What a Night' sold over two million, close to three. Second time out, we're still counting because they still keep putting out the reissues and the catalogs, and it's on the internet. It's on everything, and it's just selling, selling, selling it, and Marvin Junior keeps getting them checks (laughs).