Donnie Elbert Biography

25 May 1936, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, d. 31 January 1989. Elbert’s prolific career began in the 50s as a member of the Vibraharps. His first solo hit, ‘What Can I Do?’, was released in 1957, but the singer’s career was interrupted by a spell in the US Army. Discharged in 1961, recordings for Parkway Records and Checker then followed, before Elbert the labels, Gateway/Upstate, co-founded by Robert Schachner in 1964. His reputation was secured by ‘Run Little Girl’ and ‘A Little Piece Of Leather’, compulsive performances highlighting Elbert’s irrepressible falsetto. The latter single became a standard in UK soul clubs when it was released on the Sue label and on the strength of this popularity Elbert went to the UK where he married and settled. The singer pursued his career with several releases, including an album of Otis Redding cover versions, Tribute To A King. Elbert returned to the USA in 1970 although his pounding version of the Supremes’ ‘Where Did Our Love Go?’ (1972) was recorded in London. A hit on both sides of the Atlantic, it was followed in 1972 by ‘I Can’t Help Myself’, another reworking of a Tamla/ Motown Records classic. Elbert’s last UK chart entry came with a new, but inferior, version of ‘A Little Bit Of Leather’ (1972), although he continued to appear in the US R&B listings up until 1977. Elbert later moved to Canada where he became an A&R director with PolyGram Records.

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

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