Bobby McClure Biography

21 April 1942, Chicago, Illinois, USA, d. 13 November 1992, Los Angeles, California, USA. McClure’s family moved to East St. Louis when he was two years old, and he was singing in church by the time he was nine. A year later, he provided the unbroken high-tenor lead in the otherwise all-female Spirit Of Illinois gospel group, who went on to tour the ‘programs’ with better-known gospel quartets such as the Swan Silvertones, the Pilgrim Travellers and the Soul Stirrers, for whom McClure’s idol Sam Cooke was singing lead. By the late 50s, McClure was involved in R&B, and formed the doo-wop group Bobby And The Vocals. Subsequently, he sang with East St. Louis drummer Big Daddy Jenkins’ band, before replacing vocalist Bernard Mosley with Oliver Sain’s famous revue. Sain launched two other major blues/soul names, Little Milton and Fontella Bass. Bass and McClure duetted on his first recording, ‘Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing’, which was released in January 1965 on Checker, and made the US Top 30. In the mid-60s, McClure moved to Chicago to gig with the likes of Otis Clay and Little Milton, but by the early 70s he was back in East St. Louis singing for Sain, sometimes duetting with Shirley Brown, and recording for Sain’s Vanessa label as well as February 15 Records. He also cut for Sedgwick, Klondike, and Willie Mitchell’s by now predominantly soul-orientated Memphis-based Hi label, for whom he recorded four good, but unsuccessful, sides. By the 80s McClure was working as a correction officer in an Illinois penitentiary, but still recorded two singles for B-Mac, before quitting his job and moving to Los Angeles where he recorded for Jerry ‘ Swamp Dogg’ Williams and for ex-Stax man Al Bell’s Edge Records. Sadly, Bobby McClure was only 50 when he died from a stroke following a brain aneurysm.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.