She was born Bessie White in North Carolina, and later raised in Brooklyn, New York. By the mid-1950s, she began singing with a quartet called Three Guys and a Doll. While a member of the group, she met and married singer Larry Banks. She performed and recorded as Toni Banks during the mid-’50s, including the single “You’re Still in My Heart”, on which she was backed by the Four Fellows.
Taking back the name Bessie Banks, she recorded as a solo singer in the first half of the 1960s, starting with “Do It Now” in 1963 on the Spokane Records label. In 1964, Larry and Bessie decided to make a new push to establish her with a song that Larry had written specifically for the purpose of breaking her nationally: “Go Now.” Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller produced the recording, which appeared on their Blue Cat label, the R&B/soul imprint of Red Bird.
The success of the Moody Blues’ cover version overshadowed her later career. In subsequent years, she recorded singles for the Verve and Volt labels, and continued to release records into the mid-1970s, including “The Best Is Yet To Come”.
Larry Banks also recorded under his own name, and both recorded with and produced his second wife Joan, who recorded as Jaibi.
Edited by PappaWheelie on 13 Oct 2006, 22:21
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