The Kodaks Biography

An R&B vocal group from Newark, New Jersey, USA, the original members were lead Pearl McKinnon, first tenor James Patrick, second tenor William Franklin, baritone Larry Davis and bass William Miller. The Kodaks were representative of the pre-teen lead sound, featuring a girlish and innocent, pre-pubescent male voice. When the pre-teen leads first became popular, it was assumed that they were all male, but research conducted in the 70s into the history of many such groups discovered that some were led by females, notably Pearl McKinnon of the Kodaks and Faith Taylor of the Sweet Teens. The Kodaks came together in 1957 and signed with Bobby Robinson’s Fury label. The first release paired a terrific jump, ‘Little Boy And Girl’, with the touching ballad ‘Teenager’s Dream’, and received significant local airplay. The second release, in the spring of 1958, the exhilarating ‘Oh Gee, Oh Gosh’, was their most sizeable hit, winning air time on the entire east coast and some in the Midwest. The b-side, ‘Make Believe World’, was especially appealing, with creatively harmonized choruses. At this time, Davis and Franklin left to form the Sonics, who would later record ‘This Broken Heart’. They were replaced with Richard Dixon and Harold Jenkins. Two more singles followed, the last one being the excellent jump ‘Runaround Baby’ (1958), but it did not attract the public who were evidently tiring of the Frankie Lymon sound. McKinnon left the group around 1959 and a reorganized Kodaks recorded some more singles for first J&S and then Wink before finally disbanding in 1961. Meanwhile, McKinnon became lead of a new group, Pearl And The Deltars, who released a fine single on Fury in 1961 that met with little success. McKinnon in the 70s was the amazing ‘Frankie Lymon’ lead in the reunited Teenagers group, and those who heard her Kodaks tracks in the 50s could easily understand how she managed the deception.

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