Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Wannabe Week: The Sylvers
The Sylvers were another family group who saw a rise in their visibility and popularity after the success of the Jackson 5. Hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, they started out in the 1960s with the four oldest siblings, Olympia, Leon, Charmaine, and James, as the Little Angels and they worked as an opening act for artists such as Ray Charles and Johnny Mathis. In 1972 they added the next two brothers, Edmund and Ricky, to their line up and changed their group name and their sound.
Of all the imitators, the Sylvers came closest to giving the Jackson 5 a run for their money. Their talent and good looks (not to mention their amazing afros) helped them push the Jackson 5 from their regular spot on the cover of Right On! magazine, and there were countless stories with titles like "Will the Sylvers Replace the Jackson 5?" And a couple of things made them distinct as a teen group: they were all equally talented on lead vocals and they also wrote a lot of their own music. Here they are singing "I Wish I Could Talk to You," on their first Soul Train appearance, where you can hear Leon, Ricky, and Edmund on lead vocals.
Other than being another young and talented Black family group, there were a couple of other connections between the Jackson 5 and the Sylvers. In the early '70s Edmund Sylvers provided Marlon's speaking voice in the Jackson 5ive cartoon series on Saturday morning television. And their biggest hit, "Boogie Fever," was written and produced by Freddie Perren who had been a member of the J5's early production and song-writing team, The Corporation. By the time The Sylvers recorded it, they had added three more siblings to the group: sisters Pat and Angie, and little brother, Foster, who had had his own solo hit, "Misdemeanor," in 1973, sounding very much like a young Michael Jackson. In this live performance of of "Boogie Fever" from a 1976 Midnight Special, Foster comes in with the counter lead to Edmund's lead vocals.
Check out the bow at the end of this performance. I'll think you'll find it familiar.
Tomorrow: The DeFranco Family