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The Ad-Libs

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The Ad Libs were one of the few ’60s group with a female lead and male back-up and their sound prefigured the jazz-styled doo wop of several later groups like The Manhattan Transfer.

John Taylor was a saxophone player who had worked with various big band groups as far back as the 30s. By the early ’60s he had quit playing and had a career as a teacher. It was during this time that he came across the Creators, a Hudson County, New Jersey streetcorner quintet. The Creators consisted of Hugh Harris, James Wright, John Alan, Danny Harris, and Chris Coles. By mid 1963 the Creators had released their first record on TR label without any chart success. A single “I’ll Stay Home” a year later on Phillips met the same fate.

In 1964 the Creators re-formed in Newark, New Jersey with Harris and Austin teaming up with Norman Donegan and Dave Watt. They added Mary Ann Thomas and renamed themselves the Ad Libs.

Taylor’s jazz and big band flavored songwriting along with the Ad Libs’ natural harmonic sound and modified boogie woogie rhythm created “The Boy From New York City.”

Taylor took the demo tape to Red Bird Records’ owners Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The Ad Libs were signed to their Blue Cat affiliate and “The Boy From New York City” was released in December, 1964 and by March 1965 had reached #8 on the Pop chart and #6 on the R&B charts. In May 1965 the follow-up “He Ain’t No Angel” barely made the Pop 100. The next single “On the Corner” saw little activity, and after one more unsuccessful release the group was dropped by Blue Cat.

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