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The Moonglows

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Cleveland, United States (1951 – present)

The Moonglows were an influential American R&B and doo-wop group based in Cleveland, Ohio. The original group was composed of Bobby Lester, Harvey Fuqua, Pete Graves and Prentiss Barnes, along with guitarist Billy Johnson. Originally known as The Crazy Sounds, they were renamed by Cleveland DJ Alan Freed, who was known on the air as Moondog, and who decided to heavily promote the group. Marvin Gaye joined the group in 1958, and they later disbanded in 1960.

In early 1951, the Moonglows, mostly featuring Fuqua on lead vocals, began recording, first for Freed’s Champagne record label and then for Chicago’s Chance Records, achieving local success in the midwest with a bluesy sound. By mid 1954, the group had become more polished (as evidenced by their Lester-led cover of Doris Day’s “Secret Love”), and signed with the bigger Chess Records label. Their first Chess record was also their first R&B hit, the Fuqua-penned “Sincerely” (1954), with a lead vocal by Lester (and covered for the pop market by The McGuire Sisters). “Sincerely” was followed by a series of original R&B hits in 1955 and 1956, including “Most of All”, “In My Diary” (later recorded by The Spinners), “When I’m With You” (all led by Lester) and the uptempo “See Saw” (featuring Fuqua). 1957 saw the release of the Fuqua led “Please Send Me Someone to Love” (originally by Percy Mayfield in 1950).

Through this period, the group perfected their patented, breathy, “blow harmony,” which inspired countless 1950s doo-wop groups and 1960s soul groups, and even the 1970s The Chi-Lites.

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