Sunday, May 8, 2011

Gene Chandler

One of the leading exponents of the 60s Chicago soul scene, Gene Chandler was born Eugene Dixon on July 6,1937 in Chicago,Illinois. In 1957 he became lead singer of a group called The Dukays. The group
signed with Vee Jay Records with the singer recording with the group as Eugene Dixon and solo as Gene Chandler. The song "Duke Of Earl" was recorded by the Du Kays but was released in 1961 by Vee Jay credited solely to Gene Chandler. It sold a million copies in just one month and spent three weeks at the #1 spot on the Billboard charts.

Chandler adopted the stage persona of The Duke Of Earl complete with top hat, monocle and cape. He appeared singing the hit in full costume in the movie Don't Knock The Twist, starring Chubby Checker in 1962. His stage performances became popular and he next collaborated with Curtis Mayfield On the moderate hit, "Rainbow '65". While the song sold modestly on it's first recording, Chandler recorded the song three more times during his career, scoring hit each time.

Over the next five years, Chandler had more hits including "Good Times", "What Now", "Nothing Can Stop Me" (another Mayfield composition) and others. This string of hits enabled him to escape his "Duke" typecasting and become an established soul star.

Chandler left Vee Jay and signed with Brunswick, Chess, and Constellation Records with recordings alternating among the three. he continued in this style until 1970. At this time his sound changed,keeping up with the times . He recorded "Groovy Situation" which went to #12 on the pop charts and #8 on the
r'n' b charts, making it his second major hit since "Duke Of Earl",not to mention a masterful bass guitar track played by one Richard Evans.

Another notable recording by Chandler is the very courageous attempt at covering James Brown's "There Was A Time". While comparing it to the original is just plain silly, on its own merits he did pretty good for a normal human.

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