Crown Heights Affair Biography

This US disco group, formed in New York City in the early 70s, was initially known as the Neu Day Express. They took their new name from a district of their native Brooklyn. The group comprised Neu Day Express members Philip Thomas (vocals), William Anderson (guitar/vocals), Arnold ‘Muki’ Wilson (bass/vocals) and Raymond Rock (drums/percussion/vocals), alongside James ‘Ajax’ Baynard (trumpet/vocals), Stan Johnson (keyboards), Darryl Gibbs (saxophone) and Julius Dilligard Jnr. (vocals). The group was initially signed by RCA Records, for whom they recorded a self-titled album in 1974 and enjoyed regional hit singles with ‘Super Rod’ and ‘Leave The Kids Alone’.

A number of personnel changes then ensued, with brothers Bert Reid (Bertram Charles Reid Jnr., 25 October 1956, New York, USA, d. 12 December 2004, New York, USA; tenor saxophone/vocals) and Raymond Reid (trombone/vocals) replacing Gibbs and Dilligard, and Johnson and Baynard making way for Howie Young and Tyrone Demmons respectively. The new look group switched labels to De-Lite Records, then home of Kool And The Gang, and recorded their second studio album. Under the guidance of producers, writers and managers Freida Nerangis and Britt Britton, Crown Heights Affair leapt to the forefront of commercial funk, recording four hit R&B/pop singles from their first two De-Lite albums - ‘Dreaming A Dream’, ‘Every Beat Of My Heart’, ‘Foxy Lady’ and ‘Dancin’’.

De-Lite’s subsequent worldwide pact with PolyGram Records found the unit breaking internationally, with ‘Galaxy Of Love’ hitting the UK Top 30 and ‘I’m Gonna Love You Forever’ the Top 50 in 1978. Trumpeter James Baynard had by this point returned to the line-up in place of Demmons, while for 1979’s Dance Lady Dance, Skip Boardley was brought in to share lead vocals with Philip Thomas. The influence of new producer Bert DeCoteaux and the emerging songwriting abilities within the band consolidated their position in 1980, with ‘You Gave Me Love’ reaching the UK Top 10. The single featured on the album Sure Shot, recorded without keyboard player Howie Young. While this represented the peak of their chart success, Crown Heights Affair continued to churn out competent singles and albums for much of the next decade. Bert Reid departed to pursue a production career before the release of 1982’s Think Positive, which featured the group’s last US R&B hit, ‘Somebody Tell Me What To Do’. Reid’s brother Raymond and William Anderson also emerged as in-demand independent producers in the early 80s, which ultimately led to their departure from Crown Heights Affair in 1986. Bert Reid died of lung cancer in December 2004.

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

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