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Biography

#1 The Show Stoppers were four-piece vocal soul group from Philadelphia. They are best remembered for their 1968 hit, "Ain't Nothin' But a House Party". Their line-up included Alex Burke and Laddie Burke, younger brothers of Solomon Burke, plus fellow brothers Timmy Smith and Earl Smith. They formed at Germantown High School in Philadelphia, and rehearsed under the guiding hand of the elder Burke.

#2 For a brief beautiful time, the number-one band in Rochester was the Show Stoppers. They were from Glens Falls but had the great bulk of their success in the Rochester area. Bat McGrath and Jay Capozzi were frontmen. Don Potter played guitar and sang like Ray Charles.

The bandmembers were babes in the woods when they first gigged at the 414 Club on Ridge Road in 1965. They learned fast about vice, adult loneliness, and how to keep playing even if there was a brawl going on. And they rocked the joint. In rapid order, they went from making $200 a week for six nights, four sets a night, to $1,000 a night.

Their manager wrote to John Hammond Sr., at CBS Records, and he came to Rochester to hear the band, loved them, and signed them to a deal. Hammond swooned, calling the Showstoppers the “American Rolling Stones.”

Using a blues producer, they cut “Turn on Your Lovelight.” Don Potter ranted and raved and preached and dripped soul, and created a 45 covered for years by the Grateful Dead. The flip side was a Bat McGrath project, an electric folk tune, a hippie song two years ahead of its time. The band returned to Rochester from New York convinced they were on the brink of superstardom.

The single sold well in Rochester, but not elsewhere. A second single sold nowhere. Fights started, and the band broke up. By 1967 it was over. There were splinter groups like the Brass Buttons, but Bat McGrath and Don Potter had their greatest (and ongoing) success as a folky acoustic duet.

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