Chairmen Of The Board Biography

Briefly known as the Gentlemen, this Detroit-based quartet was instigated by General Norman Johnson (23 May 1943, Norfolk, Virginia, USA). A former member of the Showmen, he left that group in 1968 intent on a solo path, but instead joined Danny Woods (b. 10 April 1944, Atlanta, Georgia, USA), Harrison Kennedy (b. Canada) and Eddie Curtis (b. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) in this budding venture. Signed to the newly formed Invictus Records, the group secured an international hit with their debut single, ‘Give Me Just A Little More Time’. His elated performance established the General’s emphatic delivery, which combined the emotional fire of the Four Tops’ Levi Stubbs with the idiomatic ‘trilling’ of Billy Stewart. Its follow-up, the vibrant ‘(You’ve Got Me) Dangling On A String’, was a more substantial hit in the UK than America, the first of several releases following this pattern. Such commercial contradictions did not detract from the excellence of ‘Everything’s Tuesday’, ‘Pay To The Piper’ (both 1971) and ‘I’m On My Way To A Better Place’ (1972) as the group furthered its impressive repertoire. Although Johnson provided the most recognizable voice, Woods and Kennedy also shared the lead spotlight, while the overall sound varied from assertive R&B to the melancholia of ‘Patches’, later a hit for Clarence Carter.

The group ceased recording in 1971, but singles continued to appear until 1976, while a final album, Skin I’m In (1974), was also compiled from old masters. Curtis left Invictus altogether but the remaining trio each issued solo albums. Johnson also worked with stablemates the Honey Cone and 100 Proof Aged In Soul, while he and Woods kept the Chairmen name afloat with live performances. The General subsequently signed with Arista Records, where he enjoyed a series of late 70s R&B hits before reuniting with Woods. ‘Loverboy’ (1984) reflected their enduring popularity on the American ‘beach’/vintage soul music scene, and was a minor hit in the UK three years later.

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

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